In an antique land The cover proclaims IAAL “History in the guise of a traveller’s tale,” and the multi-generic book moves back and forth between Ghosh’s. Once upon a time an Indian writer named Amitav Ghosh set out to find an Indian slave, name unknown, who some seven hundred years before had traveled to. Such is the underlying motif of IN AN ANTIQUE LAND, Amitav Ghosh’s fascinating study which blends a historical detective story with his own experiences as a.

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So many people came to mourn with us Secrecy was essential if the plan was to succeed.

In an Antique Land

In fact, the na detailed plan for the conquest of Egypt was conceived not by a soldier but by a philosopher, Karl Liebniz, as early as But soon enough, Ustaz Mustafa came back to talk to me again.

It was true that the most vulnerable people — pregnant women, young children, the sick, the elderly, and so on — were exempted by religious law, but even for those of sound body the fast must have been very hard: A mix of antiquity, the interaction of several faiths and contemporary travels and the author researching records of a 12th century slave.

Their army routed the Egyptians in a battle near Fustat and the inhabitants of the city soon sued for peace. Views Read Edit View history.

Ben Yiju’s documents were mostly written in an unusual, hybrid language: It was therefore a matter of bitter chagrin to him that he had not been the first person in the village to buy a television set. It was Alexandria that was Egypt’s most important city at amiav time of the Arab invasion; founded by Alexander the Great in bc it had served as am country’s capital for almost a thousand years. I began to wonder why I had not accepted Ustaz Mustafa’s invitation to visit the mosque and watch him at his prayers; he had meant well, after all, had only wanted to introduce me to the most important element of his imaginative life.

Shaikh Musa chased a brood of chickens off an old sheepskin, sending them scuttling under his bed, and we seated ourselves on the floor and played with Ahmed’s two young sons while waiting for the rest of the family. In lznd the character of al-Qahira was to change entirely and it was to become a frantic, crowded district, the bustling nucleus of the conurbation of Cairo.


He also had a little clipped moustache, and the moment I saw it I knew it was the kind of moustache that Jabir was sure to aspire to once his feathery adolescent whiskers ih matured.

The people who used it would often try to introduce Arabic classicisms into their written language, with varying degrees of success.

Amitav Ghosh – “In An Antique Land”

Ghosh has a fantastically open and honest voice. That changes about half-way through the book, however, when he begins to push back from becoming a stereotyped expatriate, and describes an incredibly vivid and complicated scene from his personal history in old East Palestine in At the end of the visit it was clear to me that there was only one way forward now, and that was to go to the Geniza documents themselves, directly to Ben Yiju’s own papers.

I began to wonder how Lataifa would have looked if I had had the privilege of floating through it, protected by the delegated power of technology, of looking out untroubled through a sheet of clear glass.

The cover proclaims IAAL “History in the guise of a traveller’s tale,” and the multi-generic book moves back and forth between Ghosh’s experience living in small villages and towns in the Nile Delta and his reconstruction of a Jewish trader and his slave’s lives in the eleventh century from documents from the Cairo Geniza.

Like the other letter, this one too is addressed to Abraham Ben Yiju, in Mangalore, but in the thirty-one years that have passed between the publication of lad one and the other, the Slave has slipped backwards in time, like an awkward package on a conveyor belt.

The room was dark; all the windows were shut and the lamp had not been lit.

Shaikh Musa spoke of him often, and with something more than the usual warmth of a father remembering a son long absent. There was little Abu-‘Ali could do to rid his house of him; constrained as he was by the obligations of kinship, he had to choke daily on the gall of hearing about the soccer matches that his son and Jabir watched on the TV set in the house next door. Combining shrewd observations with painstaking historical research, Ghosh serves up skeptics and holy men, merchants and sorcerers.


You mentioned, my master, that you were longing for me.

Not the least because, it shows us how the living experience of real religion differs from, and is perhaps superior to, the textualized routines of formal religions. They invited us to sit with them and began to ask me questions about the soil and the crops in India. Yet, despite their generally modest circumstances, a majority of the men were endowed with a respectable level of education, and some were among the most learned scholars qntique their time.

Woven into those modern experiences are stories of the medieval composition of the Holy Land.

The two of them were of ghosu same age after all, in their mid- fifties; they had grown up together, and Shaikh Musa probably knew him as well as anyone in the hamlet.

Today the building is once again rejuvenated, its exterior scrubbed and well-tended. Life took over, what can I say The currents there are notoriously treacherous; they have earned the Straits a dismal name, Bab al-Mandab, ‘the Gateway of Lamentation’.

At the time, at least one European was moved to bewilderment by the unfamiliar mores of the region; a response more honest perhaps than the trust in historical inevitability that has supplanted it since.

In an Antique Land by Amitav Ghosh | : Books

He hugged his sleeping son hard against his chest and said, ‘They don’t think of Our Lord at all, do they? This is not your average history history book, but lends some interesting insight into a bygone era just the same. The two stories are knitted together quite deliberately, with the author switching from one tale to the other at points where there are obvious parallels between the two.

We walked in silence for a while, and then he said: Jabir paused to think.