Advertisement
Friday, Dec 03, 2021
Outlook.com
Review

History’s Forgotten Nuts

For a book set during the times of Rajendra Chola, Empire teems with the most ghastly anachronisms. Yet it tells an engaging story with some verve.

History’s Forgotten Nuts
History’s Forgotten Nuts
outlookindia.com
2017-09-30T12:55:09+05:30

The first major Chola novel ever to have appeared was Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan in Tamil in the 1950s. Kalki was a student of both Tamil history and literature and so could weave skilfu­lly a popular novel which became a primer on Chola history. Later, Tamil literature had Sandilyan, who too wrote historical novels which, though risque, had some basic period detail and information. Both these authors—and there were several others—could at the very least make the reader feel that they were reading about Tamils in a Tamil setting. Unfortunately, Empire has nothing to do with either the Tamil country or the Tamil people.

What is a historical novel? Encyclo­paedia Britannica defines it thus: “A historical novel is a novel that has as its setting a period of history and that att­empts to convey the spirit, manners, and social conditions of a past age with realistic detail and fidelity (which is, in some cases, only apparent fidelity) to historical fact”. Take, for example, Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.  She takes up Thomas Cromwell, the chief minister of Henry VIII who oversaw the king’s break with Rome and who was not at all a popular figure during his lifetime, and weaves an extraordinary tale. Mantel, according to a reviewer in The Guardian, “works up a 16th-century world in which only a joker would call for cherries in April or lettuce in December, and where hearing an unlicensed preacher is an illicit thrill on a par with risking syphilis”.

Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Read More from Outlook

World Disability Day 2021: Brooking No Challenge, The Extraordinary Tale Of Avani Lekhara

World Disability Day 2021: Brooking No Challenge, The Extraordinary Tale Of Avani Lekhara

The farmers’ movement reaffirms that peasants are makers of their own rebellion and constitutive of their own consciousness.

World Disability Day: 14-Year-Old Assam Boy Develops App To Convert Sign Language To Text

World Disability Day: 14-Year-Old Assam Boy Develops App To Convert Sign Language To Text

Assam school student Tejas Shukla has developed an application that can help deaf persons communicate by translating sign language to text and vice versa.

Mumbai Test, Day 1 LIVE: Iyer Departs, Agarwal Nears Ton

Mumbai Test, Day 1 LIVE: Iyer Departs, Agarwal Nears Ton

New Zealand clinched a morale-boosting draw in the first Test in Kanpur. Can India win the two-match series in Mumbai?

Kashmir: Ghulam Nabi Azad Emerges As Key Player In J&K With Or Without Congress

Kashmir: Ghulam Nabi Azad Emerges As Key Player In J&K With Or Without Congress

Crowds at Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad's recent rallies show that he will be a key player in elections in Jammu and Kashmir, when they happen.

Advertisement