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Father India Paperback – November 17, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarpPeren; New edition edition (November 17, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060931019
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060931018
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,337,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A bold thesis, stylishly argued.a book that is challenging and enjoyable." -- The Washington Times

"A bold thesis, stylishly argued.a book that is challenging and enjoyable." -- The Washington Times

"A groundbreaking work. It changes our understanding of India's role in the spiritual and intellectual rebuilding of a Europe shattered by the Great War." -- Bharati Mukherjee, San Francisco Chronicle

"Father India is a perceptive emotional audit..Paine is acutely sensitive. His portraits illuminate the folly inherent in the genius of his subjects and, at the same time, the genius that transforms their folly." -- Wilson Quarterly

"I admire Father India immensely. Jeffery Paine has taken a superb theme, the impingement of India upon the West, and has written a cogent, ramifying meditation on politics, religion, and the exigencies of personality. Like a good conversationalist, Paine intervenes but never obtrudes. It is a continuous pleasure to see such variety of experience justly and perceptively pondered: The strangeness of India is not cooed over--there is no gush--but it is allowed to persist, it is not domesticated or otherwise tamed." -- Denis Donoghue, University Professor and Henry James Professor of English and American Letters, New York University

"Intelligent and lively..Cultural history with flair. Its prose is stylish, its anecdotes fascinating." -- Newsday

"Jeffery Paine's Father India is a work of extraordinary scope and quality....Imaginative and unusual....Its pages breathe with the perceptive intelligence of a very good writer and a masterly critic." -- John Lukacs, author of A Thread of Years

"With wit and relish, Father India demonstrates both the fascination--and the folly--of seeking to solve the problems of one civilization by adopting solutions suggested by another. Its deftly drawn subjects range from Lord Curzon to E. M. Forster, V. S. Naipaul to Mahatma Gandhi, but their common experience attests to something all western lovers of India know--that no other place on earth has the same power to compel and confuse, delight and mystify." -- Geoffrey Ward, author of The Civil War

About the Author

Jeffery Paine is associated with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and is former literary editor of the Wilson Quarterly. The author of Father India and Re-enchantment, he has written for most major national publications, and has served as a judge on the Pulitzer Prize committee and as vice president of the National Book Critics Circle. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Customer Reviews

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sanjay Agarwal on October 20, 2005
Jeffrey Paine has written an amazing book, which is both sophisticated in its analysis and insightful in its perspective. Yet, the narrative is racy and easy to read - possibly because of his background in journalism.

Paine traces the careers and Indian adventure of eight well-known persons who were either Westerners or were Indians influenced by the West to begin with, but later became deeply influenced by India. Yet in the process, they also influenced India itself. The list includes Lord Curzon, Mahatma Gandhi, E. M. Forster, Shri Aurobindo, Mira Behn (Madeleine Slade), Mother (Mirra Richard), Carl Jung, V. S. Naipaul and Annie Besant, all well-known figures in India and outside.

In the process he weaves a magical yet sophisticated tapestry showing why India exercised a near-fatal charm for these people and how it changed them. He also adds a lot of tid-bits about their personal lives, and idiosyncracies, their struggles, their failures and their successes. Surprisingly, and without noticing it, by the time you finish the book, you would have developed a pretty good perspective on how India has affected and deeply influenced Western world through these people. A remarkable intellectual feat indeed.

His handling of each character in the drama is confident and skillful. He has a definite format to follow, and this adds rigour to a book, which could have become a maudling, sentimental journey otherwise. The connections he makes with other contemporary characters and happenings are simply astounding and marvellous.

However, he becomes less sure of himself as he comes closer to the present, possibly because the processes are still going on, and the advantage of hindsight is not available.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By ANAND SIVASHANKAR on April 5, 2000
The book delves into the feelings, emotions and travails as felt by some of the administrators, writers,social activists and reformers who have ';experienced ' India at close quarters.Curzon, Annie Besant,EM Forster, Chris Isherwood and finally Gandhi's experiences are chronicled in detail.The book tries to provide the reader with an understanding of India that is gleaned from the spiritual and pyschological processes of these visitors and tries to enunciate a depth of feeling. These 'outsiders'twist and turn at every corner in India and the reasons for their doing si might infuse an Indian to think more deeply , and accord the foreigner with a more intimate view of the seething cauldron that answers to the name of India.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 21, 2003
I admit I may have been mildly intoxicated before I read this book - intoxicated on Western Buddhism and New Age philosophies that legitimize themselves by associating themselves with Indian religions. This book sobered me up. Paine indicates that much of what many of us have mistaken for pure distilled India is really a hybrid mutation of India and its European interpreters and visitors. I honestly feel I came away with a much better understanding of characters like Madame Blavatsky, Krishnamurti, and Ghandi. There is also a great deal of material addressing individuals who adopted a homosexual lifestyle including E.M. Forster and Christopher Isherwood. I might wonder if Jeffery Paine is himself practicing homosexuality given the amount of time spent on the topic. (In fact, if he isn't, it would be a bit annoying.) The representation of this group seems a bit disproportionate but it may indeed be the case that a disproportionate amount of the Europeans experimenting with India in the early 1900s were of this group - well at least the ones that got famous. (In which case I shouldn't be so annoyed).
Certainly India has played a part in our present culture albeit in a roundabout and almost covert way. Paine's book suggests that it was more as a catalyst than a direct effect. A place to which people embarked on holy quests and often did not find what they expected. If you have read a few new age books that swear allegiance to Indian philosophy and religion and are feeling a bit tipsy, or if you have an interest in the psychological history of the waning British empire and India as the British empire waned, I highly recommend this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 23, 2000
I never would have thought of the theme of this book, but once immersed in it, found it totally engrossing. India has been the great seed bed for many Western thinkers. This is an exciting way of seeing the relationship between India and the U.S...and a well-documented account of it with fascinating stories.
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