Essays, Criticism, Non-Fiction
Two weeks ago, Iwent for a walk with my daughter to the Birla temple….
(This is an extract. For the full article, first published in the Times Literary Supplement, see Clearing a Space.)
Early Last week, Dr, Jyotindra Jain, Director of the Crafts Museum at Delhi, gave a quite enthralling….
When Jejuri was Published in 1976, Iwas fourteen years old….
(This is an extract. For the full article see Clearing a Space.)
It’s now more than a month since Iwas drenched, Like others, in the deluge….
I Went to a Protsstant school in Bombay but the creation myth we were taught in the classroom…
(This is an extract. For the full article…View More)
“This extraordinary and wide-ranging collection, through a series of highly-focussed aperçus, puts in question the key terms of self-understanding of much modern literature … a treasure trove of acute and thought-provoking perceptions.” Charles Taylor, McGill University
“Amit Chaudhuri’s collected essays and reviews constitute an intellectual autobiography of the first importance.” Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Global Distinguished Professor of English at NYU
“Amit Chaudhuri’s career as a novelist has proceeded in tandem with an ongoing engagement as a robust critic and thinker and musician. In these essays breadth of knowledge and the fluency of thought are held in perfect balance. ‘Clearing a Space’ is a compendious, quietly passionate, rigorous and unfailingly eloquent collection.” Geoff Dyer
“In this thought-provoking and compelling set of essays Amit Chaudhuri teases out the implications of polarities that may seem fixed and suggests new ways of exploring the narratives of Indian modernity. He asks hard questions of himself as well as others, and he engages us as readers with the warmth and acuity of his observations across a wonderful range of writing.” Gillian Beer
“The essays of Amit Chaudhuri are really a wonderful key to the understanding of the vitality and specificity of Indian modernity … a fascinating contribution to the understanding of this great civilization and its modern transformations. They are worth the serious attention of scholars in the social sciences as well as the humanities.” Shmuel Eisenstadt, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
“Whether making music or writing prose, Amit Chaudhuri offers a distinctive spiritual history of modernity. These collected meditations – which are as elegantly fastidious as they are intellectually adventurous – confirm him as one of our most provocative and consistently interesting artists.” Pankaj Mishra
D H Lawrence and ‘Difference’
“Elegantly and gracefully [shows] how Lawrence is one of the most radical, risk-taking poets ever…. Here is one of those classic works, like Frank O’Connor’s The Lonely Voice or Sean O’Faolain’s The Short Story, in which a gifted writer takes us deep into the heart of the creative process.” Tom Paulin, from the Foreword.
“In some superbly original chapters, crafted with the attunement to verbal detail of a practising poet, [Chaudhuri] shows that Lawrence’s poems are less framed and finished products than fragments of a larger discourse…. Genuinely groundbreaking and exciting…. This is a poet’s criticism, shrewd and deft, full of inside knowledge and technical know-how…. D. H. Lawrence and ‘Difference’ is probably the single best study of Lawrence’s poetry to date.” Terry Eagleton, London Review of Books.
“D.H. Lawrence and ‘Difference’ succeeds in making us appreciate how much more there is to Lawrence than we know or think we know…. Chaudhuri is excellent on Lawrence’s encounter with non-European cultures, as in Mornings in Mexico, but also on simplistic attempts to recuperate him as the noble savage of modernism.” David Wheatley, Irish Times.
“Through the sheer cumulative force of its carefully nuanced readings, Amit Chaudhuri’s argument is wholly convincing. Here is a Lawrence who consistently challenged logocentrism rather than embodying it, and for whom the idea of a reader or writer with completely clean hands is a dangerous delusion, aesthetically and politically.” Times Literary Supplement.
“An important contribution to Lawrence studies: it enriches our understanding of particular poems by Lawrence, but more ambitiously it forces us to rethink the way in which we ‘read’ Lawrence’s poetry more generally. I cannot overemphasise the fact that I see Chaudhuri’s work to be a genuinely original and impressive contribution to the field, both adding to and transforming Lawrence studies.” Anne Fernihough, Girton College, Cambridge.
“A very readable, stylish, and utterly unique study…. The book brings together with extraordinary flair the most unlikely triad of Lawrence, Derrida, and Chaudhuri.” Peter D. McDonald, St Hugh’s College, Oxford.
Calcutta:- Two Years in the City
‘Like its structure, the book’s meticulous phrasing and seductive charm echo the allure of a self-concious city whose history is not to be found in libraries. Already a poet, musician, critic and novelist, in Calcutta Amit Chaudhuri bravely – and brilliantly – embraces new form that is, in many ways, the expression of the city itself.’ –John Keay Literary Review
‘While his portrait of Calcutta reads like the work of an erudite traveler, Chaudhuri (The Immortals, 2009) is a resident, and to him, Calcutta is “one of the great cities of modernity.” A renowned novelist and essayist as well as a musician, he is also a professor of contemporary literature at the University of East Anglia, where W. G. Sebald also taught. Though Calcutta is nuanced, atmospheric, and deeply preoccupied with the past, it is not Sebaldian; Chaudhuri is lively, not melancholy. Amid anecdotes and information, he interviews natives and immigrants from every sector of society, including Indians returning from the West who find that they are not necessarily at home because they have changed, as has Calcutta—irrevocably. Who knew that Calcutta/Kolkata, the major city in the province of Bengal, had a democratically elected Communist government for decades? The Communists were responsible for making Calcutta “India’s most tolerant, multicultural, multireligious metropolis.” There are many reasons to read Calcutta. Perhaps the best is to see a global citizen’s view of the effects of globalization on a complicated, well-loved city. –Michael Autrey, Booklist
“Engrossing and impressive.” —Anita Desai, The New York Review of Books
“Fascinating. . . . Chaudhuri explores ideas of modernity and globalization in this essayistic appreciation. . . . [His] insider-outsider status allows him to probe the city’s eccentricities with both affection and unease.” The New Yorker
“[A] lovely account. . . . [Marked by] the strength of Mr. Chaudhuri’s prose and the acuity of his observations. . . . [His] very personal story is a welcome contribution to the literature of the city. It also recalls another author who first set foot in Calcutta in 1962: V.S. Naipaul.” The Wall Street Journal
“Equal parts memoir, literary history, sad-eyed sitcom. . . . [Calcutta is] rich in presence and sings a beautiful tune all of its own. . . . All the richer for presenting the city as a series of unexpected memory tugs.” The Guardian (London)
“Chaudhuri’s writing has a strangely mesmeric quality, using the quotidian to draw the reader into the author’s mental world, his own way of looking. . . . His prose displays an ability amounting to brilliance for finding the right words to catch an emotion, a thought, a personality.” Financial Times
“Simply stunning. . . . Calcutta should be mandatory reading not only for those unfamiliar with the place but for those who imagine they know it well. . . . Blending reportage, meditation, history and critique, it draws a fascinating portrait.” The Independent (London)
“A complex patchwork of topics, scenes and even genres. It’s a crazy-quilt of a book that shows the author’s ear for reproducing speech and his knack for sketching not only personalities but also smells and, especially, tastes.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“India’s great cities have been the subject of many outstanding travel books and now it is the turn of Calcutta. [Chaudhuri’s] stories are spun out of a mix of history and family memoir, but the joy here lies in his digressions, his wanderings through the city, his remembrances and conjectures.” The Sunday Times (London)
“Chaudhuri approaches his chronicle of the city of his birth with a practised eye.” London Review of Books
“A splendid read; an introduction to a city, or confirmation of it; a meditation on expression and on [the author’s] own development as a writer. . . . Chaudhuri’s prose is delicious, his humour wry.” Australian Book Review
“Beguiling. . . . Chaudhuri makes [Calcutta] sound like just the place to be.” The Spectator (London)
“Concussed by the noise of the new and beguiled by echoes of the past, Chaudhuri maintains his novelist’s eye and ear for Calcutta’s character and citizens. He combines the serendipity of the flâneur with the sensitivity of the social historian.” The Times (London)
“Chaudhuri is a writer, academic and musician. He uses his consciousness of all three in his narratives. He’s curious, he’s edgy . . . he’s incisive, reflective and sometimes poetic.” TheTribune (India)
“Chaudhuri’s Calcutta has a different scope and intention to Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City (about Mumbai) and to William Dalrymple’s City of Djinns (about Delhi), but like those books, it succeeds brilliantly in making sense of a place few of us can know.” The Observer (England)
“Unique and fascinating. . . . [Chaudhuri’s] masterful prose style lingers on the tiny, quotidian details and draws out their significance.” Scottish Herald
“[Chaudhuri’s] most personal and perambulatory book to date. . . . [Calcutta] is a modernist canvas that mirrors the complexity and diversity of the metropolis itself and is in turn mirrored by Chaudhuri’s idiosyncratic style, blending autobiography, literary reportage, and personal essay.” World Literature Today