Bengal Nights

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Overview

Set in 1930s Calcutta, this is a roman á clef of remarkable intimacy. Originally published in Romanian in 1933, this semiautobiographical novel by the world renowned scholar Mircea Eliade details the passionate awakenings of Alain, an ambitious young French engineer flush with colonial pride and prejudice and full of a European fascination with the mysterious subcontinent.

Offered the hospitality of a senior Indian colleague, Alain grasps at the chance to discover the authentic ...

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Overview

Set in 1930s Calcutta, this is a roman á clef of remarkable intimacy. Originally published in Romanian in 1933, this semiautobiographical novel by the world renowned scholar Mircea Eliade details the passionate awakenings of Alain, an ambitious young French engineer flush with colonial pride and prejudice and full of a European fascination with the mysterious subcontinent.

Offered the hospitality of a senior Indian colleague, Alain grasps at the chance to discover the authentic India firsthand. He soon finds himself enchanted by his host's daughter, the lovely and inscrutable Maitreyi, a precocious young poet and former student of Tagore. What follows is a charming, tentative flirtation that soon, against all the proprieties and precepts of Indian society, blossoms into a love affair both impossible and ultimately tragic. This erotic passion plays itself out in Alain's thoughts long after its bitter conclusion. In hindsight he sets down the story, quoting from the diaries of his disordered days, and trying to make sense of the sad affair.

A vibrantly poetic love story, Bengal Nights is also a cruel account of the wreckage left in the wake of a young man's self discovery. At once horrifying and deeply moving, Eliade's story repeats the patterns of European engagement with India even as it exposes and condemns them. Invaluable for the insight it offers into Eliade's life and thought, it is a work of great intellectual and emotional power.

"Bengal Nights is forceful and harshly poignant, written with a great love of India informed by clear-eyed understanding. But do not open it if you prefer to remain unmoved by your reading matter. It is enough to make stones weep." — Literary Review

Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) was the Sewell L. Avery Distinguished Service Professor in the Divinity School and the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. Many of his scholarly works, as well as his two-volume autobiography and four-volume journal, are published by the University of Chicago Press. Translated into French in 1950, Bengal Nights was an immediate critical success. The film, Les Nuits Bengali, appeared in 1987.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Read together with Maitreyi Devi's It Does Not Die (see below) these two moving novels--one written in 1933, the other more than 40 years later in response to the first--by two world-renowned intellectuals retell the story of their real love affair from two widely divergent perspectives. Eliade (1907-1986), best known as a theologian ( The Sacred and the Profane ), tells his version of the romance with Devi in a thinly disguised autobiographical novel. The narrator, Alain, a young French engineer, gradually enters a mystical realm of artistic energy, eroticism and timelessness when he meets and falls in love with the daughter of a senior colleague with whom he is staying in Calcutta. Alain sees in Maitreyi (whose name Eliade uses in the novel) what the West has stereotypically seen in the East: a mysterious pool of spirituality, irrationality and sensuousness. And, similarly typical of such visions, the relationship is doomed from the start for the very reasons that it remains so compelling. (Apr . )
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226204192
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2012
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 903,198
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Mircea Eliade (1907–1986) was the Sewell L. Avery Distinguished Service Professor at the Divinity School and professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. He was one of the most influential scholars of religion of the 20th century and one of the world’s foremost interpreters of religious symbolism and myth. Eliade was the author of many works of scholarship and fiction, including A History of Religious Ideas and ten novels.
 

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 26, 2012

    Amazing book by an amazing romanian writer!

    Amazing book by an amazing romanian writer!

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