Friday, January 12, 2007


There has been ample hype about Mr. Dalrymple’s style of writing history in a precise yet simplified manner which is easily understood and retains the interest of the lay person. He is the author of hugely successful Historical books, the latest being The White Mughal.

I haven’t had the time to read the book, but I did latch on to an article by him in The Hindu, December 31st, titled – Masterpieces in Bronze. From the brief glimpse of his writing style, I infer that the hype is quite close to being true. This is what my opinion of his style would be:

Mr. Dalrymple’s appeal lies in his simplification of history, in a manner that does not exclude any details nor does it sensationalize any particular event or person. Throughout the narrative, Dalrymple splashes the pages with his irrepressible wit. In this manner, he succeeds in making history attractive to all & sundry.

“William Dalrymple's captivating book is not only great reading, it contributes very substantially too our understanding of the remarkable history of The Mughal empire in its dying days …It is rare indeed that a work of such consummate scholarship and insight could also be so accessible and such fun to read.” - Amartya Sen

A far cry from historians like Bipan Chandra, whose book, India’s struggle for Independence, lies, sadly, unfinished on my book shelf because of its excessively furnished verbatim and monotony. A gentleman had commented that in the world of decreased attention span & leisurely time, it is imperative that the style of writing history change as well to cater to the needs of today, but without ruining the essence of history. As Mr. Dalrymple himself puts it, most historians are still using post-colonial terms & language in their works, and such works become antiquated & uninteresting/ unintelligible to the reader. I do agree, after going through 70% of India’s struggle for independence.

I have picked up The age of Kali, a collection of essays by Mr. William (Although the White Mughal is his best-selling book, I liked the synopsis of Kali more, hence the choice. I am yet to finish Wuthering heights, but I’m such a sucker for good books, I can’t resist purchasing them)

For more on Mr. Dalrymple -

1 comment:

  1. shame...iv havnt read off iv taken an oath im reading all the books that are stacked up in my cupboard...dont ask what i am reading though...lolz