04 December, 2020

A Ulysses Adrift

Eminent writers on the world's only Bengali Englishman

A Ulysses Adrift

IN an incandescent review of Sadhan Kumar Ghose's My English Journey, quite appropriately titled Gosh!, Malcom Muggeridge had written in The New Statesman in 1962 that the last Englishman would be found on the shores of India. It is a remarkable irony that perhaps the last quintessential Bengali bhadralok is alive and well in Oxford, England, at 100! He is none other than Nirad C. Chaudhuri, incorrigible anglophile, dissector of societies and mores, oracle of civilisational decline, biographer, writer of exquisite prose, and Great Polymath. 

Niradbabu is not the world's last Englishman—as Ian Jack, the editor of Granta, considers him to be. He, according to Shrabani Basu, Ananda Bazaar Patrika's London correspondent, calls himself "a Bengali and an Englishman". Harish Trivedi, professor of English at Delhi University, also got it wrong when he describes Niradbabu as the "last Bengali babu". 'Babu' applies to lower middle class bhadralok engaged in clerical jobs. Middle, upper middle and upper...



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