A complex, layered novel steeped in etymology and irony. Medieval Islamic culture, India and Her trade with Egypt and Arabia, the Jewish diaspora and a discovery of medieval documents in a synagogue in the Old Town in Cairo and our modern fracture lines. Books have been a source of knowledge for many centuries. This is my first Amitav Ghosh book and I really didn't know it was non fiction until I was 30 pages into it. Ghosh has a fantastically open and honest voice. History comes alive as we walk the great ports of that age; we watch these men toil and trade far away from home. But it is a gentle, beautiful book.
He also finds that he cares more about the village people as friends than as subjects. Of his work this book appealed to me most, due to half-remembered reviews describing it as a melange of genres, of nationalities, of languages, cultures, professions, and eras. Combining shrewd observations with painstaking historical research, Ghosh serves up skeptics and holy men, merchants and sorcerers. Bookpile but whatever instinct that was, it was a good one! One of the Muslim men tell Ghosh that Hindus are very clever people, they burn their dead so that they do not have to face Allah on the day of judgment. In the 12th century, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus worked in tandem as traders and merchants, with the only reprisals being angry remonstrances rather than armed violence. Bookseller: , Washington, United States. At the time, at least one European was moved to bewilderment by the unfamiliar mores of the region; a response more honest perhaps than the trust in historical inevitability that has supplanted it since.
Most thought-provoking was his visit at the end of the book to the tomb of a Muslim saint, who, it transpired, was also a Jewish Rabbi. Or rather, there are just so many theses present---and they are all coherent and graspable despite their number because this book is a piece of rock carved from the mountain of Reality, perhaps sculpted and polished, but evoking the whole within the part, like a fractal or a hologram. The fascinating revelations about Jewish life in medieval Egypt and the Maghreb , the close relationship between the Muslims and Jews, destroyed only in the last century, are intertwined with Ghosh's own story, a perception of Egyptian villagers through Indian eyes, and, even more interesting, their perception of the Indian catapulted into their midst. At ThriftBooks, our motto is: Read More, Spend Less. Ghosh's vast knowledge and the amout of research he has put into this book is mind blowing.
They just seek to confirm the stories prejudices they have heard about the strange 'others,' In this case, 'the others' are Hindus. This is how I like my history written. A mix of antiquity, the interaction of several faiths and contemporary travels and the author researching records of a 12th century slave. I bought In An Antique Land from a small bookshop in Mussoorie, a lovely town in Northern India. Firstly when I start in reading I was so feared because this is the first time to read in English so I fear to misunderstand or don't get the main idea for this novel ,so I began it in slowly steps but suddenly I felt in love with this novel I really appreciate this kind of travelers novel I think it have a lot of information , knowledge ,experience, history ,tradition and excitement. It was the best kind of training a novelist could have and it has stood me in good stead over the years. There is atleast one book written on every single topic under the sun.
Ghosh relates to us his experiences as a young anthropologist in rural Egypt, and sets it against the life of a Jew merchant from Ifriqiya modern Tunisia and his Tulu slave, about whom we only know from archival records and letters, miraculously preserved thanks to an old Jewish custom. At ThriftBooks, our motto is: Read More, Spend Less. This book was slow-moving in places but ultimately unforgettable. I read it while travelling in Northern India Dec 2012-Jan 2013. The book is called 'In an Antique Land' and there is the sense that in the mindset of these people, you get a glimpse into an ancient civilisation that is stayed unchanged over millennia. When I need inspiration, both as a reader and as a writer, I will dip into this book again and again. Some of these figures are real, some only imagine, but all emerge as vividly as the characters in a great novel.
A wonderful interweaving of past and present. The meat was provided by Ghosh through painstaking research and logical supposition both in Egypt and in India. But despite the differences Ghosh was able to present the portrait of Egyptian country side and the upheavals that it underwent over the next two decades after the Irak Iran war when Egyptians started to leave the villages to seek a better future abroad. As a reader, I feel transplanted in the Egyptian countryside. Phil in Social Anthropology in Oxford and a historical account of the slave which is perhaps a resultant product of his anthropological enquiry. Plagiarize at your own risk. When Ghosh travels through the Malabar in search of the slave Bomma's past, he comes across an old Muslim spirit in a Hindu temple, a relic of a more tolerant, intermingled time.
Sometimes you don't weave back at all. His curiosity piqued - even ill-defined, the slave's presence in the records of medieval history was completely out of the ordinary - Ghosh journeyed to Egypt in 1980 to try to fill in the details of the slave's life. He returns almost a decade later in the hope of catching up with old friends to find that many of the young men who had befriended him have left to work in Iraq or other Gulf states, and the resulting influx of Gulf money has changed these small communities irreversibly. Ghosh discovered the Ben Yiju story by examining documents from the massive haul found In the early 1980s Amitav Ghosh was living in rural Egypt, engaged in field world for his social anthropology doctorate. I found this a difficult read. A number of times while reading this book I had to remind myself that the story told therein was non-fiction. The manuscripts and fragments were mostly ignored but in 1896 two sisters brought fragments of manuscripts to England and showed them to Solomon Schechter of Cambridge University.
The journey took him to a small village in Egypt, where medieval customs coexist with twentieth-century desires and discontents. Let us see how that works out for us! You get a sense of the warmth and engagement that he as a person must give out, which bridged the otherwise huge gap between this cultivated Indian PhD student and people who are almost out of time. Some of these figures are real, some only imagined, but all emerge as vividly as the characters in a great novel. The meat was provided by Ghosh through painstaking research and logical supposition both in Egypt and in India. Pages are intact and are not marred by notes or highlighting, but may contain a neat previous owner name. I was keen to really learn a great deal about the relationship among the countries that enjoyed centuries of trade across the Indian ocean, especially modern-day India, Yemen, and Egypt. His story throws a spotlight on a medieval time—the 12th century—while Christians were waging war on Muslims and massacring Jews—when a continent away, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus were partners in trade, plying the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Gulf with ships and parts of Africa and Asia with camel caravans laden with all manner of merchandise.
Bookseller: , Washington, United States Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 1994. I liked the Egyptian history and hearing stories about their fellaheen customs. All pages are intact, and the cover is intact. The point was to provide a kind of contrapuntal narrative, but I never felt like they cohered very well. I started out expecting some really good medeival tales from Ben Yiju and the slave but it was Ghosh's own experiences in Egypt that proved more intriguing and better to me. Both in India and Egypt, he learns about older indigenous cults that eventually get absorbed and subsumed into more dominant cultural systems. So what we see in the book is how he navigates these places, whom he meets, what sort of conversations he has and so forth.