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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When Ghosh visits his former landlord Abu-Ali, trays of electronic calculators, transistor radios and lighters with a torch at one end are paraded before him as a display of wealth.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. That very same year,two Presbyterian women, Agnes S.

Still, qntique him as they might, Abu-‘Ali’s neighbours and kinsmen also held him in fear. The visit appears to have been an unremarkable one: After this battle ‘the German Franks returned’ wrote the Arab historian who had so dreaded their arrival, ‘to their country which lies over yonder and God rid the faithful of this calamity.

In an Antique Land: History in the Guise of a Traveler’s Tale by Amitav Ghosh

The basic gist of the book is that Amitav Ghosh has been given some cash to pursue his PhD in social anthropology and, at a loss what to study, he comes across the mention of a un in the letters of a Jewish businessmen living in Egypt in the 12th century. Neither she nor Hasan spoke to each other, but it struck me suddenly that they were probably of exactly the same age: In aboutthe eleventh- century building, the structure that Ben Yiju saw, was finally torn down and a new one was erected in its place: I was to discover later that this gesture was rooted in an anxiety that had long haunted his everyday existence: I will one day definitely read this book again.

A mix of antiquity, the interaction of several faiths and contemporary travels and the author researching records of a 12th century slave. The chambers in which the documents were kept were known by the term ‘Geniza’, a word that is thought to have come into Hebrew from a Persian root, ganj, meaning ‘storehouse’ — a common element in place-names gghosh India and Iran, particularly beloved of the British who sprinkled it liberally across their Indian settlements, in odd Anglicized forms like ‘Ballygunge’ and ‘Daltongunj’.


Combining shrewd observations with painstaking historical research, Ghosh serves up skeptics and holy men, merchants and sorcerers. At intervals, as ghosb frightened by the stillness, the ducks and chickens with whom I shared the roof would burst into an uproar, erupt out of their coops and flap around the roof in a gale of frenzied squawks, undaunted by the flat, white heat of the afternoon. Concurrent with this growing interest, the study of Egyptian antiquities passed from being an esoteric and quasi-mystical pursuit into a freshly-charted field of scholarly enterprise, and in the service of the new science several travellers undertook journeys of discovery into Egypt.

The children of the hamlet were always careful to be discreet when they mimicked him: In my bag Lanx had a few gifts — an illuminated copy of the Qur’an for Shaikh Musa, a leather wallet for Jabir, a ball for the boys’ soccer team, and so on.

The letter, which now bears the catalogue number MS H.

Amitav Ghosh – “In An Antique Land”

I never quite ghodh out what exactly he was doing there other than that he was an anthropology graduate student, but I loved his interactions with the people. There are several stories.

I saw myself shrinking, dwindling away into one of those tiny, terrified foreigners whom Pharaohs hold up by their hair in New Kingdom bas-reliefs. They had eaten well and Shaikh Musa had just returned from the mosque. The two parts of the story told are Ghosh’s long amirav and subsequent visits to rural Egypt and the historic relationship that so captivated the then-young anthropologist-in-training’s interest in the Middle East: Gibson, returned to England after a visit to Egypt, carrying a small collection of Geniza documents.


But it is a gentle, beautiful book. 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 While living in [the governorate of] Beh Amitav Ghosh is essayist and ghoosh as well as novelist, and it was the sheer pleasure from some of his essays and blog posts that induced me to take on one of his novels. By this time the indigenous Jews of Cairo, those whose relationship with the Synagogue of Ben Ezra was most direct, were a small and impoverished minority within the community.

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Full text of “In an Antique Land”

He came into the room and seated himself on the chair, taking care to keep his clean jallabeyya from touching the floor. He was pushed when he refused, and had fallen off and died, hitting his head on a rock. In one of his talks with other young Muslim men, they ask Ghosh a range of questions about India and Hindus.

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In an Antique Land: History in the Guise of a Traveler’s Tale

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: You are our honoured guest.

His eyes had fallen on his watch, and he rose hurriedly to his feet. The Professor had brushed aside my anxiety on that score: The Cattaouis made their mansion available to him for the lwnd of his stay, and in recognition of this service, Queen Victoria later sent Moses Cattaoui her portrait — a token which he treasured, writes Adler, ‘with no little pride’.

Schechter, lecturer in Talmudic to the University of Cambridge. There are also accounts for a long list of household goods that Ben Yiju has asked for, complete with an apology for the misadventures of a frying-pan — ‘You asked me to buy a frying-pan of stone in a case.

He glowed with love as he looked at the boy. But despite his announced intentions, the book was still unfinished when he died inin Princeton. Incredible as it may seem, excavations in this suppurating wasteland have yielded huge quantities of Chinese pottery and other riches: We had gone directly to his bedroom, pushing past a nuzzling sheep tethered by the door.