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BOOKS ABOUT INDIA* G. S. BRETT THE limits o.f this ~eview of books abo~t India were defined by the materIal whIch was made avatlable. The, problem of selection, which would have been serious, w~s thus eliminated. ,There remained only the que~tion of the plan which should be follo'wedin order to produce the best results with the greatest economy of space and time. After much consideration and perplexity it seemed best to concentrate attention on three works which had special claims both on account of their size and because they represented distinct types of approach to the subject which we comprehensively denote by the word India. Accordingly, the survey begins with the work of Mr Shridharani, continues with the volumes by W. R~ Smith and the co-operating au'thors of Modern India and the Wc.rt, and concludes by directing atte~tion to a group. of publications which could only be treated in a m'ore sum1l1ary manner. If the order of treatment or proportion of emphasis is open to criticism, these remarks may serve to explain and justify' the procedure adopted. The book by Mr Shridharani has many merits. It has an intro- 'duction by a novelist (Louis Bromfield) and this is a good. index of its character. -It is primarily an autobiography and by describing scenes from his life in India the author succeeds in giving an intimate and instructive view of India from inside. The excellence of the writing deserves mention. The words flow easily with remarkable aptness: apparently Indian writers, when they succeed, have .that acute sense for words which is the result of using a foreign language. The necessity of selecting the right phrase with an effort *My India) My America, by KRISHNALAL SHRIDHARANl. New York, Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1941. Nationalism and Reform in India, by WILLIAM Roy SMITH. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1938. Modern India and the'West: A Study of the In/eractions of their Civilizations. Oxford University Press, 1941. TJu Unity of India, by ]AWAHARLAL NEHRU. ' London, Lindsay Drumrnond~ 1942. Glimpses of World His/ory, by ]AWAHARLAL NEHRU. New York, John Day Co, 1942. India To-day: The Background of the Indian Nalionalisl Movement . Toronto, Ryerson Press, 1941. The Indian States and Indian Federation, by Sir GEOFFREY DE MONTMORENCY. Cambridge University Press, 1942. The Cripps Mission, by R. COUTLAND. Oxford University Press, 1942. What Does Gandhi Want? by T. A. RAMAN. Oxford University Press, 1942. 210 BOOKS ABOUT INDIA 211 of attention calls forth a degree of careful expression not often exercised by writers of such books as this. Mr Shridharani does not conceal his likes and dislikes, 'but his partiality is not excessive; He loses no opportunity to indicate the defects of British rule and in general create the impression that India is the victim of a government which is far from benevolent. His attitude toward America suggests that he was impressed chiefly by the extent to which Americans are ignorant of Indian life and thought: by his · .account . of several ludicrous incidents and constant .misunderstandings he confirms the common opinion that for many Americans India is primarily a land of mystery and magic. To counteract this limitation Shridharani gives an illuminating account of many aspects of Indian life: he achieves his best results in the two chapters on "Mother India," old and modern, which offer a spirited reply to the inferences that have been drawn from Katharine Mayo's Mother India. ' The intellectual life of India is treated-less adequately and with too much effort to underline possible anticipat~ons of modern science. The contributions to science made by the Hindus in'early times are important and deserve to be better known, but nothing is gained by such ambiguous statements as that '''the Hindu physicists had propounded the atomic theory ·of matter and under- .stood conservation of .energy"before the end of the sixteenth century. Shridharani explains the reasons why "the Hindu mind lost its scientific force" in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but when he comes to the "period of Enlightenment in India in the middle of the nineteen'th century" he is characteristically evasive. 'Because the British would "brook no interference...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 210-220
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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