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. In An Antique Land is written by the anthropologist, Amitav Ghosh and the publishers marketed it as ‘..a subversive history in the guise of a.

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In an Antique Land

Then, placing both hands on the diesel motor, I fell to my knees and shut my eyes. His origins lay in a region that was known as Ifriqiya in the Arabic-speaking world of the Middle Ages — an area centred around what is now Tunisia. He is one of the few who can come up with subtly remarkable criticism of the west: I knew nothing then about the Slave of MS H. He came back the next evening, his Quran in his hands, and said: 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.

While living in [the governorate of] Beh Amitav Ghosh is essayist and blogger 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.

Ghosh discovered the Ben Yiju story by examining documents from the massive haul found In the early s Amitav Ghosh was living in rural Egypt, engaged in field world for his social anthropology doctorate. I waved, but to my surprise they neither smiled nor waved back.

That year Mabrouk’s father had done exceptionally well from gnosh vegetable plot. Now it was Masr, which had antque the Geniza for almost a millennium, that was left with no trace of its riches: Later, when he rose to leave, he stopped at the door and declared: Some of them ran towards me as soon as I climbed out of the truck.


Everyone had tried to dissuade him — his wife, his brothers including Shaikh Musa and most of his cousins and relatives.

Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. It was on the roof of a house in Lataifa, a tiny village in Egypt. Jabir’s voice followed me: A few months later ln returned himself — laden, as Elkan Adler was to put it, ‘with the spoils of the Egyptians’.

His interest in the Geniza had begun antiqu a visit to Budapest in and had continued through the rest of his life. Scanning through the relevant parts of Goitein’s oeuvre, I discovered that his interest lay, on lland whole, in the broad sweep of history, so that the references to individuals, such as Ben Yiju, were scattered randomly through his writings like the windblown trail of a paperchase.

Her stock of ducks, chickens, pigeons and geese had been moved to a pen, at the far end of the roof, and the coop had been turned into a makeshift room for my benefit, with a bed, a desk and a chair. A large crowd had gathered around me; much larger than the crowds in any of the other stalls.

I told the dealer in Damanhour, I said, “Make sure you give me one that works well, we have an Indian living in our hamlet and he’ll be able to tell whether we’ve got a good one or not’ ” I hesitated, mumbling a few words of protest, but he nudged me eagerly forward.

Climate Change and the Unthinkable I was soon sure that the woman in the black dress was Hasan’s wife. The next story of finding Jewish manuscripts in Genizah or storerooms in the synagogue in Cairo and elsewhere. The greatest achievement of the Ben Ezra congregation, however, was the product of largely fortuitous circumstances.

Amitav Ghosh : In An Antique Land

That’s like burning up money. The kids who used to pester him have ,and grown up and many are working in Iraq to send money back home.

But it swings open easily enough, with a push, and a dusty path curls away from it, between the mounds of refuse, towards a stretch of reed-filled marshland in the distance.


Ahmed took it from him, mumbling a word of thanks, and a moment later he left the room. The old Geniza was probably left standing for a while, after the rest of the structure was torn down, but it must have perished later.

But then, providentially, I earned a brief respite; he and his cousins spotted a row of swings on the edge of the square and went running off to join the queue. This is the most fascinating and formidable part of the book. Not least because it demonstrates the power of the archive; the ability of the West to loot and hoard the documents that would give identity and meaning to alternative visions within the 3rd world.

So that when he writes about the those other people, the merchants and slaves from years ago, whose correspondence he is researching, the vast gap in time is bridged by the ancientness and continuity of the Egyptian civilisation, and those people from a thousand years ago suddenly seem as real and alive to you as the fellaheen of today.

Carried along by the movements of that cycle of trade many of them travelled regularly between three continents — men whose surnames often read like the chapter headings ghlsh an epic, linked them to sleepy oases and dusty Saharan market towns, places like El Faiyum and Tlemcen. We were then well into Ramadan, and I was one of the handful of people in the hamlet who were not fasting.

The Geniza did, in fact, contain innumerable Scriptural and rabbinic documents of great importance, Biblical manuscripts in particular. Come with us — it’s very important. But no sooner had its teeth touched the plough than it was frozen to the ground; that was how it was found next morning, with its teeth stuck in the thongs.