Taj Mahal

( 2 )

Overview

An enduring monument of haunting beauty, the Taj Mahal seems a symbol of stability itself. The familiar view of the glowing marble mausoleum from the gateway entrance offers the very picture of permanence. And yet this extraordinary edifice presents a shifting image to observers across time and cultures. The meaning of the Taj Mahal, the perceptions and responses it prompts, ideas about the building and the history that shape them: these form the subject of Giles Tillotson’s book. More than a richly illustrated ...

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Overview

An enduring monument of haunting beauty, the Taj Mahal seems a symbol of stability itself. The familiar view of the glowing marble mausoleum from the gateway entrance offers the very picture of permanence. And yet this extraordinary edifice presents a shifting image to observers across time and cultures. The meaning of the Taj Mahal, the perceptions and responses it prompts, ideas about the building and the history that shape them: these form the subject of Giles Tillotson’s book. More than a richly illustrated history—though it is that as well—this book is an eloquent meditation on the place of the Taj Mahal in the cultural imagination of India and the wider world.

Since its completion in 1648, the mausoleum commissioned by the fifth Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, has come to symbolize many things: the undying love of a man for his wife, the perfection of Mughal architecture, the ideal synthesis of various strands of subcontinental aesthetics, even an icon of modern India itself. Exploring different perspectives brought to the magnificent structure—by a Mughal court poet, an English Romantic traveler, a colonial administrator, an architectural historian, or a contemporary Bollywood filmmaker—this book is an incomparable guide through the varied and changing ideas inspired by the Taj Mahal, from its construction to our day. In Tillotson’s expert hands, the story of a seventeenth-century structure in the city of Agra reveals itself as a story about our own place and time.

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Editorial Reviews

Sunday Times

For all its fame, remarkably little has been written on the Taj Majal, and Giles Tillotson's slim and balanced book is, without question, the best short introduction yet produced...This is a much-needed and eminently readable book that is likely to remain a standard work for many years to come.
— William Dalrymple

The Independent

[Tillotson's] accessible and enjoyable style will engage a broader readership. Like every author in [Harvard's] "Wonders of the World" series, Tillotson considers not only architectural history but also cultural heritage and resonance—picturesque 18th-century aquatints of the Taj, early 20th-century restorations by Lord Curzon, literary responses such as Rabindranath Tagore's poem ("a teardrop on the cheek of time"), and the famous photo of Princess Diana posing alone in front of the "monument to love" shortly before her marriage break-up...Tillotson airs the many myths and legends with relish; then slays most of them with facts and reason, and a generous helping of illustrations.
— Andrew Robinson

Daily Telegraph

The Taj Mahal is one of the most instantly recognizable buildings in the world, endlessly painted and photographed, and currently welcoming an average of 8,000 visitors a day. Giles Tillotson's sprightly account of its structure and history, the stories that have accumulated around it and the impression it has made on tourists down the centuries is a welcome addition to [Harvard's] "Wonders of the World" series. These books are not only architectural monographs; they are equally concerned with what buildings mean, and few structures have meant more different things to people than the Taj Mahal...Witty and authoritative, this book achieves the remarkable feat of making us look again at a building we might otherwise think altogether too familiar.
— Peter Parker

Sunil Khilnani
This wry, brisk book is a delightful and fascinating excavation of the Taj Mahal's many layers of meanings. Giles Tillotson deploys his formidable knowledge of India's artistic and cultural history to create a kaleidoscopic interpretation of the Taj...[he] unravels the fables and myths incited by this sublime creation, and yet succeeds in keeping its unworldly aura intact.
Sunday Times - William Dalrymple
For all its fame, remarkably little has been written on the Taj Majal, and Giles Tillotson's slim and balanced book is, without question, the best short introduction yet produced...This is a much-needed and eminently readable book that is likely to remain a standard work for many years to come.
The Independent - Andrew Robinson
[Tillotson's] accessible and enjoyable style will engage a broader readership. Like every author in [Harvard's] "Wonders of the World" series, Tillotson considers not only architectural history but also cultural heritage and resonance--picturesque 18th-century aquatints of the Taj, early 20th-century restorations by Lord Curzon, literary responses such as Rabindranath Tagore's poem ("a teardrop on the cheek of time"), and the famous photo of Princess Diana posing alone in front of the "monument to love" shortly before her marriage break-up...Tillotson airs the many myths and legends with relish; then slays most of them with facts and reason, and a generous helping of illustrations.
Daily Telegraph - Peter Parker
The Taj Mahal is one of the most instantly recognizable buildings in the world, endlessly painted and photographed, and currently welcoming an average of 8,000 visitors a day. Giles Tillotson's sprightly account of its structure and history, the stories that have accumulated around it and the impression it has made on tourists down the centuries is a welcome addition to [Harvard's] "Wonders of the World" series. These books are not only architectural monographs; they are equally concerned with what buildings mean, and few structures have meant more different things to people than the Taj Mahal...Witty and authoritative, this book achieves the remarkable feat of making us look again at a building we might otherwise think altogether too familiar.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674066281
  • Publisher: Harvard
  • Publication date: 11/12/2012
  • Series: Wonders of the World Series , #42
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 723,649
  • Product dimensions: 4.30 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Giles Tillotson is an art historian specializing in South Asia and the author of many books including Jaipur Nama: Tales from the Pink City.
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Table of Contents

Introduction Orientation 1

Ch. 1 The Players 16

Ch. 2 The Design 45

Ch. 3 Everybody's Taj 85

Ch. 4 How to Make Your Own 116

Ch. 5 To Have and to Hold 149

Making a Visit? 173

Further Reading 178

List of Illustrations 188

Index 191

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2014

    I am a highschool sophomore and I had to read this book for a re

    I am a highschool sophomore and I had to read this book for a reasearch project. In my honest opinion I found
    this book interesting. Although this book helped me answer some of the questions in my research project, there 
    is a lot of unnecessary information about the different myths behind the building of the Taj Mahal. However,
    Giles Tillotson revealed the different meanings of the monument itself. He explains that the Taj Mahal is not only a 
    symbol of love but a symbol of stability and pride for India. I didn't enjoy the extra information at the end of the book when
    he writes about the Bollywood movie that was made about two con artists. Giles includes the history and the depth behind the design of the Taj Mahal. Most importantly, he reveals the remarkable love story between Shah Jahan and his beloved second wife Mumtaz Mahal. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2014

    I am a highschool sophomore and I had to read this book for a re

    I am a highschool sophomore and I had to read this book for a reasearch project. In my honest opinion I found this book interesting. Although this book helped me answer some of the questions in my research project, there is a lot of unnecessary information about the different myths behind the building of the Taj Mahal. However, Giles Tillotson revealed the different meanings of the monument itself. He explains that the Taj Mahal is not only a symbol of love but a symbol of stability and pride for India. I didn't enjoy the extra information at the end of the book when he writes about the Bollywood movie that was made about two con artists. Giles includes the history and the depth behind the design of the Taj Mahal. Most importantly, he reveals the remarkable love story between Shah Jahan and his beloved second wife Mumtaz Mahal.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

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