Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Art of Fiction by David Lodge

The Art of Fiction is a book of literary criticism by the British novelist David Lodge.
The chapters of the book first appeared in 1991-1992 as weekly columns in The Independent on Sunday and were eventually gathered into book form and published in 1992.
The essays as they appear in the book have in many cases been expanded from their original format.
Lodge focuses each chapter upon one aspect of the art of fiction, comprising some fifty topics. 
Every chapter also begins with a passage from classic or modern literature that Lodge feels embodies the technique or topic at hand. 
Some of the topics Lodge analyzes are Beginning (the first chapter), The Intrusive Author, The Epistolary Novel, Magic Realism, Irony and Metafiction. 
Among the authors he quotes in order to illustrate his points are Jane Austen, J. D. Salinger, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, Martin Amis, F. Scott Fitzgerald and even himself.

[Source: Wikipedia ]

Goodreads Rating - 3.9 out of 5 (1097 Ratings, 88 Reviews)

My Review:
Borrowed this book from the library with all good intentions of developing a better sense of appreciation of English Fiction.
Not a very interesting book, though it is not too boring.
The reason I was able to  finish this book was the chapters were rather short and I kept reading chapter after chapter with a hope that the next one would be more interesting.  
But sadly that was not to be.
A OK sort of book as far as I am concerned. 
Maybe it will appeal more to students of English Literature.


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Saturday, January 17, 2015

River of Smoke - Amitav Ghosh

River Of Smoke is the second novel in the The Ibis Saga trilogy, which revolves around the opium trade, that led to the Opium Wars in China.
In September 1838 a storm blows up on the Indian Ocean and the Ibis, a ship carrying a consignment of convicts and indentured laborers from Calcutta to Mauritius, is caught up in the whirlwind.
When the seas settle, five men have disappeared - two lascars, two convicts and one of the passengers. 
Did the same storm upend the fortunes of those aboard the Anahita, an opium carrier heading towards Canton? 
And what fate befell those aboard the Redruth, a sturdy two-masted brig heading East out of Cornwall? 
Was it the storm that altered their course or were the destinies of these passengers at the mercy of even more powerful forces?
On the grand scale of an historical epic, River of Smoke follows its storm-tossed characters to the crowded harbors of China. 
There, despite efforts of the emperor to stop them, ships from Europe and India exchange their cargoes of opium for boxes tea, silk, porcelain and silver. 
Among them are Bahram Modi, a wealthy Parsi opium merchant out of Bombay, his estranged half-Chinese son Ah Fatt, the orphaned Paulette and a motley collection of others whose pursuit of romance, riches and a legendary rare flower have thrown together. 
All struggle to cope with their losses – and for some, unimaginable freedoms – in the alleys and crowded waterways of 19th century Canton. 
As transporting and mesmerizing as an opiate induced dream, River of Smoke will soon be heralded as a masterpiece of twenty-first century literature.

Goodreads Rating - 3.84 out of 5 (3559 Ratings, 497 Reviews)

My Review:
I had read the prequel to this book - Sea of Poppies a couple of years back and liked it immensely. 
This book  though very well written and interesting is rather tame with much less action and happenings as compared to the prequel. 
Nevertheless I enjoyed it and look forward to the final part of the Ibis trilogy viz; Flood of Fire, due for release this year.


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Monday, January 12, 2015

Paintings from Mughal India - Andrew Topsfield

One of the great kingdoms of human history, the Mughal Empire is now lost to the relentless sweep of time. 
But the wealth of treasures left behind offers a lasting testament to the sumptuousness of its culture. 
Among the most notable of these treasures are the lush miniature paintings showing the splendor of Mughal imperial life.
Andrew Topsfield examines these paintings that bear the influence of Indian, Islamic, and Persian styles and portray a variety of subjects, from hunting, royal banquets, and other scenes of imperial life to legends, battles, and mythic deities. 
Among the paintings featured in the book’s vibrant reproductions are illustrations from the celebrated Baharistan manuscript of 1595 and works created between the reign of Akbar and the fall of Shah Jahan in 1658—an era considered to be the height of Mughal art.
A fascinating and gorgeously illustrated study, Paintings from Mughal India will be an invaluable resource for all art scholars and anyone interested in the legacy of the Mughal Empire.

A unique style of court painting, combining Persian, Indian and European elements, developed in India under the Mughal emperors in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 
Originally an art of book illustration, it soon gave rise to highly naturalistic portraiture and scenes of court life, among other subjects. 
These elegant and expressive works reflect the splendour of the Mughal empire, as well as the enthusiasm of the emperors from Akbar (1556-1605) onwards for stories of adventure and romance, for the recording of great imperial assemblies, or the meticulous depiction of the flora and fauna of India. 
Among the highlights of the book are the illustrations to Akbar's magnificent Baharistan manuscript of 1595, and the court scenes from the reigns of Shah Jahan (1627-58) or the pleasure-loving Muhammad Shah (1719-48).
This book reproduces many of the finest Mughal and Deccani paintings preserved in the Bodleian Library's rich and historic collection, largely formed between 1640 and 1900. 

These pictures range in date from around 1560 to 1800, when British influence was becoming dominant in India.
Each image is presented as a full page colour plate with facing text describing its subject and significance, while the introduction situates the works within the general context of the period and its art.
[Source: As described in the book cover]

Goodreads Rating - 4.0 out of 5 (4 Ratings)

My Review:
A great sampling of Mughal Paintings. The texts accompanying the paintings were also very informative.
A book for every art lover !