29 October 2014

MODERN TIMES


Much has changed in the world of South Asian history-writing since Sumit Sarkar’s renowned classic, Modern India (1983). “The passage of thirty years having rendered that work thoroughly dated, the futility of any attempt to revise it became increasingly clear to me, especially as over this period my own historical perspectives took new and unexpected directions”, says the author. The present work is an entirely fresh view of the same period.

Focusing on three huge areas — Economy, Environment, and Culture — Professor Sarkar offers his magisterial perspective on these.

Scientific discourses, laws, forest administration, peasants and adivasis, irrigation, and conflicts over land-use are examined, as are agrarian relations, commercialization, indebtedness, and famine. Trade, finance, and industry are other major focus areas.

Modern urban India is scrutinized via the literature on its big cities. Sociabilities, caste configurations, and public culture (theatre, cinema, and sports) are discussed, as are literature, dance, music, and painting.

In conclusion, says Professor Sarkar, “I have within each chapter incorporated the relevant historiographical developments, changes, and debates. Separate bibliographical sections will I hope facilitate the work of teachers and students.”

After Professor Sarkar's serious illness nobody had imagined he would be able to complete this monumental work. What went into the writing of it could make another book. The first copies were presented to him over a ceremonial dosa and a cup of tea -- that is the way he wanted it.

Tanika Sarkar (left) and Sumit Sarkar examining the first copy of MODERN TIMES. (photo by anuradha roy)

SUMIT SARKAR is among the most influential and widely admired historians of modern India. His several books include The Swadeshi Movement in Bengal, Modern India 1885–1947, Writing Social History, and Beyond Nationalist Frames. Following a distinguished teaching career, he retired as Professor of History, Delhi University. He lives in New Delhi and is working on his next book.



PAPERBACK| Rs 595|456 pp| world rights|BUY

20 October 2014

JUST PUBLISHED: THE INVENTION OF PRIVATE LIFE

Sudipta Kaviraj has long been internationally recognized as a political analyst and thinker. In this book he shows that he is also one of the most acute writers on the interconnections of literature and politics. The essays here lie at the intersection of three disciplines: the study of literature, social theory, and intellectual history.

Kaviraj argues that serious reflections on modernity’s predicaments and bafflements lie in literature. Modernity introduced new literary forms—such as the novel and the autobiography—to Indian writers. These became reflections on the nature of modernity. Some of the questions central to modern European social theory also grew into significant themes within Indian literary reflection.

What was the nature of the self—did modernity alter this nature? What was the character of power under conditions of modern history? How is the power of the modern state felt by individuals? How does modern politics affect the personality of a sensitive individual? Is love possible between intensely self-conscious people? How do individuals cope with the transience of affections, the fragility of social ties? Kaviraj’s essays show modern Indian literature as reflections on modern times, particularly of their experiential interior.


SUDIPTA KAVIRAJ is professor of Indian politics and intellectual history at Columbia University. He has also taught for many years at SOAS, London University, and at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He has been a fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford, and a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as at the University of Chicago.

HARDBACK| 376 PP| Rs 895| Published by Permanent Black for South Asia| Copublished with Columbia University Press| BUY (in South Asia only)  Buy (outside South Asia)|