A PASSAGE TO ENGLAND BY NIRAD C CHAUDHURI PDF

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book. Chaudhuri was a well-known Bengali intellectual, a writer, editor and literary journalist who had worked for the independence activist Sarat Chandra Bose in the thirties, but later became rather critical of the politics of post-independence India, an attitude that often left him marginalised and - probably unfairly - branded as "pro-British" in later life. He moved to the UK in the 70s. Chaudhuri was educated in Kolkata at a time when the curriculum was heavily weighted towards British literature and history: he probably knew the works of Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Spenser and Sidney much more intimately than most of his contemporaries who had been through the British school system, not to mention being on familiar terms with Horace, Virgil and Racine. He quotes Hardy or Grey's Elegy at the drop of a cowpat, and takes his ideas of country-house tourism from Elizabeth Bennet's holiday in Derbyshire.

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Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book. Chaudhuri was a well-known Bengali intellectual, a writer, editor and literary journalist who had worked for the independence activist Sarat Chandra Bose in the thirties, but later became rather critical of the politics of post-independence India, an attitude that often left him marginalised and - probably unfairly - branded as "pro-British" in later life.

He moved to the UK in the 70s. Chaudhuri was educated in Kolkata at a time when the curriculum was heavily weighted towards British literature and history: he probably knew the works of Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Spenser and Sidney much more intimately than most of his contemporaries who had been through the British school system, not to mention being on familiar terms with Horace, Virgil and Racine.

He quotes Hardy or Grey's Elegy at the drop of a cowpat, and takes his ideas of country-house tourism from Elizabeth Bennet's holiday in Derbyshire. But he obviously also knows what he's talking about when it comes to Hindu culture and history. He's clearly not a socialist of any kind, and seems to take a perverse pleasure in caricaturing himself as something like a s embodiment of Kipling's Babu. You would imagine that it must have been quite a shock for someone like that to arrive in England for the first time in as the guest of the British Council and the BBC, and find himself in the world of the Welfare State, British Railways and the National Trust not to mention Angry Young Men and Anthony Eden.

But he robustly resists any temptation to be disenchanted by what he finds. He's on holiday and he's determined to have a good time. And he takes a huge pleasure in discovering that the English are still just as enthusiastic about their cultural heritage as he is, even if they don't always know very much about it. He notices non-obvious things about England that are strikingly different from India - how silent the British are, and how few of them you see out in the open; how much more difficult it is to judge social status from the way people dress, talk and act; how the softer light makes the effect of depth stand out more in what you see; how coy the English are about anything to do with making money and how open they are about sex.

But he doesn't complain - in fact, he criticises Indians who go to England and then moan about how no-one spoke to them on the Underground - he enjoys digging into the differences. In an odd way, the book that this most reminded me of is A. MacDonnell's semi-fictional account of s England as seen by a young man from the wilds of Aberdeenshire, [England, their England].

Chaudhuri isn't quite so funny or so sentimental, but he's essentially putting forward the same conclusion, that although the English differ in surprising and sometimes disconcerting ways from what you would expect having only met them in books, those practicalities aren't enough seriously to upset the myth of Englishness that everyone subjected to a colonial education has been fed from an early age.

Chaudhuri has confirmed unbeknownst to himself that he really an englishman in the body of an Indian. While he rants and raves about the various ills plaguing his own country, he goes on to heap praises on the English and their way of life not realizing that they were really unwelcome and uninvited guests in the first place who had long overstayed their welcome. The reputation of international bandits that they had brought upon themselves, carted away a lot of our country's immense wealth to enrich themselves.

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A Passage to England

Chaudhuri authored numerous works in English and Bengali. His oeuvre provides a magisterial appraisal of the histories and cultures of India, especially in the context of British colonialism in the 19th and 20th centuries. Chaudhuri is best known for The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian , published in Over the course of his literary career, he received numerous accolades for his writing. His parents were liberal middle-class Hindus who belonged to the Brahmo Samaj movement.

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A PASSAGE TO ENGLAND

A convinced homebody, he set out at the age of fifty-seven to spend eight weeks in Europe, five of these in London. Despite the wry association of the title with Forster's classic on India, this reverse, of the man up from the provinces to see the England, is more kin to our own Washington Irving. The author is constantly surprised, first because he was admonished not to expect England to live up to its literature -- for he was apt to see life through literature -- and then found that England indeed confirmed rather than destroyed the dream. He was surprised at the absence of people en masse, at the absence indeed of women he could consider beautiful, at the appearance of Churchill in the House of Commons, at the effect of a climate that revealed to him for the first time the third dimension and of the weather that he found quite predictable, though his hosts seemed never to accustom themselves to it. He is alert to national dangers -- to the leveling effect of the Welfare State, a state of British conscience rather than economics, he thinks, and to a present interest in culture that actually balks civilization. In the chinks between encounters come thoughts on Indian versus English outlooks on love, on life and death

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Nirad C. Chaudhuri

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