The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian

Nirad C. Chaudhuri, Author Addison Wesley Publishing Company $16.95 (506p) ISBN 978-0-201-15576-1
Intensely rational, Chaudhuri, a Bengali and author of Thy Hand, Great Anarch! , describes his native country with the intent that ``one part of this world may still retain some curiosity about the combination of man and geography which has worn out the British Empire.'' The autobiography yields a dense, absorbing account of Hindu boyhood (he was born in 1897) in a small village in what is now Bangladesh. Careful observations illuminate a waning culture: ``A Hindu . . . accepts the first wail of birth as the leitmotiv of existence and manages . . . to lead a mock-turtle's life during the whole of it.'' Chaudhuri concludes with intricate analyses of the intellectual history of India before independence, seen in the context of its political and social history (from the Dravidians through the Raj); its religion--the ``reformed'' Hinduism of Swami Vivekananda; and Bengali literature. Chaudhuri's judgments, often surprising, are those of a world citizen; his scholarliness is humbling. (Sept. )
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
Paperback - 560 pages - 978-0-940322-82-0
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