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Twilight in Delhi (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – 8 Aug 1994
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A perfect novel, the more valuable for its unique subject.
It is beautifully written and very moving...At the end one has a poignant feeling that poetry and daily life have got parted, and will never come together again.--E.M. Forster
A marvelous novel, where a world being extinguished by modernity is illuminated in a parting gaze that possesses both clarity and warmth.--Siddhartha Deb
Depicts the attempt to decay an entire culture and way of life. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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The introduction to the book also refers to the enslavement of Africans by western countries - I wasn't quite sure how this fitted into a book about life in India - yet for some reason the author ignores the heavy involvement of Muslim traders in African slavery which predated European activity by several hundred years. Of course the other inconsistency is that the Mughals and before them the Turkic and Afghan tribes, from whom the Muslims in India derive their religion, were themselves invaders who defeated the Indian rulers in the 16th and 17th centuries and 'colonised' much of India. The authors unwritten contention would seem to be that Mughal/Muslim civilisation was superior to that of the British/Christians. The simple fact of the matter is that just as the Mughal empire disintegrated in the face of Indian nationalism so did that of the British. Perhaps that says it all.
Set against the political backdrop of George V's coronation durbar in 1911, the general decay of Old Delhi after the decline of the Moghul courts - even the son of the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah is reduced to begging on the streets - and the marginalizing effect on Old Delhi's Muslim population is vividly portrayed. The sense of futility at their predicament and the general resentment of the British is palpable and more revealing than any historical account can ever be. From this resentment grows the independence movement that finally ejects the British in 1948.
While this is not a literary work of art, in just 200 pages we get a picture of life in Delhi as the British prepare to shift their capital from Calcutta. But its other theme is the transient nature of Empire rule whether by the Moghuls or the British. The British barely lasted 40 years beyond 1911, but the beginnings of their end had roots that began much earlier in the minds of the dispossessed citizens as this novel shows.