Twilight in Delhi

Twilight in Delhi

by Ahmed Ali
     
 

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Set in nineteenth-century India between two revolutionary moments of change, Twilight in Delhi brings history alive, depicting most movingly the loss of an entire culture and way of life. As Bonamy Dobree said, "It releases us into a different and quite complete world. Mr. Ahmed Ali makes us hear and smell Delhi...hear the flutter of pigeons’ wings, the cries

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Overview

Set in nineteenth-century India between two revolutionary moments of change, Twilight in Delhi brings history alive, depicting most movingly the loss of an entire culture and way of life. As Bonamy Dobree said, "It releases us into a different and quite complete world. Mr. Ahmed Ali makes us hear and smell Delhi...hear the flutter of pigeons’ wings, the cries of itinerant vendors, the calls to prayer, the howls of mourners, the chants of qawwals, smell jasmine and sewage, frying ghee and burning wood." The detail, as E.M. Forster said, is "new and fascinating," poetic and brutal, delightful and callous. First published by the Hogarth Press in 1940. Twilight in Delhi was widely acclaimed by critics and hailed in India as a major literary event. Long since considered a landmark novel, it is now available in the U.S. as a New Directions Classic. Twilight in Delhi has also been translated into French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Urdu.

Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“A perfect novel, the more valuable for its unique subject.”
E.M. Forster
“It is beautifully written and very moving...At the end one has a poignant feeling that poetry and daily life have got parted, and will never come together again.”
Siddhartha Deb
“A marvelous novel, where a world being extinguished by modernity is illuminated in a parting gaze that possesses both clarity and warmth.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As literature, Ali's first novel is reasonably interesting, a sort of awkwardly written, Delhi-based Buddenbrooks . As history and cultural record, though, it is fascinating. Originally published in Britain in 1940 and making its first appearance in the U.S., Twilight concerns the upper-class Muslim merchant Mir Nihal and his extended family. Mir Nihal and his wife were young children during the 1857 Mutiny and the resultant brutality on both sides. Now, in 1911, two of their sons work in government offices and the third one wears English shirts and shoes--a sure sign of Delhi's imminent demise. Even the present crop of anti-British activists are beyond Mir Nihal's ken--``He was one of those who had believed in fighting with naked swords in their hands. The young only agitated.'' Mir Nihal's intense nationalism often seems ahistorical in retrospect--Hindu feeling ran just as strongly against Muslim ``occupiers'' once the hated English left. The real residual power of the mogul golden age is not political (the surviving descendants of Bahadur Shah are all beggars and cripples) but cultural, and Ali's book is first and foremost a tender record of traditional family ceremonies, of kite battles and the old aristocratic hobby of pigeon flying. The cries of the pigeon flyers are the ubi sunt accompanying Ali's portrayal of the parallel decline of Mir Nihal's family and of mogul Delhi. (June)
Edwin Muir
"The writing produces a curiously pictoral effect, yet is itself as clear as water. The end, where innocense is drowned by experience, is intensely moving." -- The Listener

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811212670
Publisher:
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date:
06/28/1994
Series:
Paperbook Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
313,041
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)

What People are saying about this

Forrester
"It is beautifully written and very moving....at the end one has a poignant feeling that poetry and daily life have got parted, and will never come together again."

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