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Showing posts from 2014

Letter from a Reader

Gentlemen, I have just completed reading the  captioned book by Bill Aitken. (Paperback,2011). I just wish to convey to you my pleasure and gratitude for publishing such a nice book, in such a nice manner.   Though termed a paperback, it is so well printed and  and so securely bound, sewn at the section, instead of being glued. This is such a thoughtful  step, as the glue does not hold for long in our climate, and does not even allow us to open the book fully, without fear. This is such a book as one would not like to read  and throw, or even forget. The book in the present binding will easily last 30 years- which is great for the environment! Both the subject and author have been properly honoured by the quality of your publication. And you have honoured us readers, by  both the high quality and low price! It is almost like a gift! The illustrations are very good. ( I have other books of Bill Aitken published by others, including some well-known international names,

Fifteen Years, 275 Great Books

--> PERMANENT BLACK Now Fifteen Years Old (1 April 2000 -- ) On All Fools’ Day 2015, Permanent Black will be fifteen years old. Tumultuous festivities are likely within the swarming intelligentsia of Ranikhet, the new academic hub of international thought processing in the lower Himalaya, which is where we are based for much of the year. Somewhere between 275 and 280 Permanent Black titles will have been published by then, of which 150 will have also appeared in paperback editions, and another 75 in electronic format. Over these years our personnel strength has increased by twenty-five per cent: one year into our life we were, in 2001, joined by our first assistant, Biscoot (stray road-Asian); fourteen years on there has been a second retruit, Barauni (stray hill-Bhutia; ‘Barauni’ being the local pronunciation of Brownie), who has also been welcomed in at the level of assistant. His promotion to managerial rank will depend on how invitingly he barks in pote
TALKING TO A POET Arvind Krishna Mehrotra on how translated works speak in the voice of the translator and, conversely, how the poet often speaks in the voice of the writer he is translating. And on the logic behind The Illustrated History of Indian Literature in English (Permanent Black, 2003) Watch the interview here.


ROMILA THAPAR , whose monograph, THE PAST BEFORE US, was published last year by Permanent Black (and copublished by Harvard University Press), will be eighty-three on 30 November 2014.  We are happy to announce that her book has recently been made available in paperback. While wishing her Many Happy Returns of the Day and many more productive years as historian and activist, we'd like to show thousands of her admirers across the world two extremely rare pictures. Neither of these photos has ever been made public, and Permanent Black is privileged in having been allowed permission by Professor Thapar to show them on its blog. The first, showing Romila Thapar chairing a talk by Bertrand Russell, dates to 1955 in London. The second, showing her chatting with J.K. Rowling, dates to fifty years later, when it so happened that the University of Edinburgh bestowed an honorary doctorate each on one woman who made her name by arriving at conclusions from potsherds, and anothe


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


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?


--> Ratna Raman chances upon an Unrecorded Vocabularian-Phonetic Rebellion Hitherto Unknown Even to the Postmodern Phase of Subatern Studies History How Subalterns Squashed the Tea Estate Burra Sahibs From Bagdogra Airport it is a lovely afternoon ride to the Dooteriah tea estate. The tree plantations start almost as soon as we get off the main highway and both sides of the road are thickly carpeted, with dense green tea bushes. Tea leaves plucked from bushes growing at a higher altitude are more flavourful, Babua, the man at the wheel, informs us while the car begins its smooth, gradual ascent into the hills. The journey is beautiful and we unwind on the way to the tea estate, drinking in the colours of the sky and the earth. At the start of the tea estate the smooth road is replaced by badly rutted, narrow roads that were originally horse carriage routes through which the tea estate managers travelled up and down. Now cars and jeeps travel on them jost

Scholars and Scholarly Publishers: New Developments

--> Changes in the climate of relations between academic authors and their publishers A SHORT VERSION OF THIS PIECE IS ALSO AVAILABLE Six years ago the vice chancellor at Delhi University was told he could soon be arrested. Someone in Dera Bassi near Chandigarh had filed a case against him: an essay by the scholar A.K. Ramanujan in an OUP book titled Three Hundred Ramayanas had hurt the religious sentiments of the plaintiff. Ramanujan was showing Hinduism as made up of a variety of traditions. The plaintiff found this offensive because he knew it to be a fact that there was one true Hinduism: the one he had been taught in Dera Bassi. The case was filed by a proxy. The man behind it is believed to have been an RSS schoolteacher, Dina Nath Batra, known for his interest in a new kind of Mahabharata to dismantle the Nehruvian worldview and replace it with the Savarkarian and Golwalkarian. Central to his effort was a rejection of the empiricist assumptions on which


To mark the publication of Akeel Bilgrami’s major recent book, Secularism, Identity, and Enchantment (Permanent Black, 2014, details below), we requested the political theorist, Uday Singh Mehta, UDAY MEHTA   to converse with Akeel Bilgrami on issues raised by his book and related matters. Uday Singh Mehta is the author of the pathbreaking Liberalism and Empire: Nineteenth Century British Liberal Thought (1999 ), which won the J. David Greenstone Book Award 2001 for the best book in history and theory .   It turned out to be a scintillating, deeply thoughtful discussi on. AKEEL BILGRAMI Q1 I think of you, especially in the essays that constitute this book, as doing a rather particular kind of philosophy. It is a very distinguished tradition of practitioners, including the late Richard Rorty, Bernard Williams, and Alasdair MacIntyre in the Anglo-American tradition; Michel Foucault, in the French tradition, Adorno and Walter Benjamin in the German tr