29 July, 2021

Two Lives, Too Long

A quiet fascinating story, unfolding in a historically turbulent time, but a bit endless

Two Lives, Too Long
There are many lovable things about Vikram Seth. He writes about people who do not dazzle. And he does not dazzle the reader with his narration. In fact, it is with some effort one realises that there is a kind of disciplined literary style which Seth has succeeded in making almost unobservable. This is not possible, say, in poetry. Even Vikram Seth wouldn’t be able to obliterate the un-naturalness of that genre. The most he could do perhaps is to make it unobtrusive. Of course, he has always been interesting and witty. If people took months to read A Suitable Boy, it was because the author had fashioned an infective leisure for the reader as well. In that sense, Two Lives is an extension of all the prose Vikram Seth has created in his 25-odd writing years.

Two Lives is a long and leisurely account of the life and pursuits of Vikram Seth’s great-uncle and, even more importantly, his German wife. Vikram came to know them closely when he went to England in 1969 to study. He was 17 and his great-uncle, Shanti Behari Seth, and aunt, Henny Gerda...

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