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on 1 January 2012
This book works on two very different levels. Firstly, it describes life in a princely state in India, roughly in the last 30 years of the British Raj. Although a third of the population of India lived in princely states, most descriptions are of British-administered India. Forster was an intelligent observer, independently-minded for his time if not completely unprejudiced (he obviously has problems with Hindu beliefs). He was also a very witty and erudite writer: without "The Hill of Devi", this aspect of India would have lost a very fine reporter. Secondly however, it describes the human tragedy of the Maharajah of Dewas, Senior who Forster clearly held in high affection. Trapped as the ruler with limited powers of a small state which his background and education did not equip him to manage, he struggled and failed to meet the expectations of the British Raj and its officials, fell-out with rulers of other princely states and some of his own family, and had a disastrous marriage. The Maharajah could be portrayed as improvident, selfish and an anachronism, but Forster so much emphasises his humanity and the tragedy of his virtual expulsion from Dewas and death in exile that it is difficult to feel anything but sympathy and pity.
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on 17 May 2013
E M Forster went to India to work as a private secretary to the Maharajah of the state of Dewas in central India. His account of court life is fascinating - all the more so in that he 'went native' and took part in events and ceremonies which few Europeans had observed.
His tone is sometimes sardonic but always affectionate.

This book is also describes the start of a steady decline which lead - ultimately - to the end of the State of Dewas.

An interesting parallel would be Giuseppe di Lampedusa's 'The Leopard' - in Sicily.
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on 4 September 2012
If you are at all interested in India this book is excellent reading (in my opinion!). EM Forster gives an account of his visits there during 1912-1913 and 1921. This book seems to contain notes from which he wrote A Passage to India. Gives a very interesting and amusing account of certain parts of life (mostly that of Maharajas etc so far) in India during that time. Also would highly recommend the seller, as the book arrived within one or two days at most, in condition as stated, and with a really sweet little handwritten postcard enclosed thanking me for my custom. Lovely!
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on 15 March 2016
The 'Raj' in the Princely States, at a time when who you knew in the UK allowed one to choose what you did- if you wished to 'work'
but not be considered a worker [or in India a 'boxwallah'.]
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on 5 December 2014
Extremely interesting to read about pre-Independence India and everyday life in the princely states.
A big thank you to Forster for behaving like a normal human being and not like a 'sahib'.
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on 30 August 2013
Fascinating historical detail that I feel would have been more readable as a continuous narrative rather than a series of letters that sometimes seemed a bit disconnected.
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on 5 October 2014
Had to wait a bit long till the book made it to Europe...
But then it met all my great expectations!
Second hand fabulous condition - well done!
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