23 June, 2021

Heat And Mush

A French sob story dehydrated by incredible, stilted dialogue

Heat And Mush
THIS is a work weighed down and defeated by its own pretensions. It claims to be an example of the French historical novel, a Gallic variation of what is otherwise known as faction. Perhaps it is, but if so it is an unsuccessful one. The theory behind it is that truth is much more than a collection of facts and that this extra non-factual truth is achieved by an intuitive and inventive use of the author's imagination. Alas, in this case the imagination has flagged and the evocative truth for which the author has tried so hard remains elusive.

What we have is a French sob story dehydrated by incredible, stilted dialogue with Nehru emerging as a weak, confused figure with a tendency to start sobbing whenever anything goes wrong. In one scene he "collapsed on his bed, his body racked by sobs". In others he continues to sob, lament and whine. "I am suffering too much, Dickie. If it is this to govern, if I have to become indifferent, I am incapable of it. Oh! If only that attempt on my life had been successful." This is his reaction to post-Partition riots and...

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