Heat and Dust Summary ✓ 9

Review Heat and Dust

Heat and Dust Summary ✓ 9 Ã Een Engels meisje gaat naar India om de geschiedenis van Olivia de eerste vrouw van haar grootvader te reconstruerenIn 1923 zorgde Olivia voor een schandaal door haar man een Brits ambtenaar die gestationeerd was in Satipur te verlaten en ervandoor te gaan met een Indiase prinsHet verhaal speelt zich af op twee niveaus de gIn het stoffige stadje Satipur op een huurkamer in het huis van een Indiase familieHoewel ze veel meer in contact komt met de Indiase samenleving van Olivia die beschermd leefde in een keurige bungalow en voornamelijk omging met Engelse collega’s van haar man en hoewel er in vijftig jaar natuurlijk veel veranderd is wordt ze toch met dezelfde problemen geconfronteerd hoe ver kun je als vreemdeling doordringen in een z. 25 An only just postcolonial novel about the British in India by an author who described herself as a Central European with an English education and a deplorable tendency to constant self analysis and who was married to an Indian man Some friends will see from that uote why I might have been interested in Ruth Prawer Jhabvala but I read this very short book mostly to improve my count of Booker winners this being only the 14th as I'm active in a group where many people have read That characterisation along with her scriptwriting work for Merchant Ivory was pretty much all I remembered about the author at the time I started reading Heat and Dust And I only learnt a few months ago that she wasn't as I'd always previously assumed Anglo Indian About ¾ of the way through the book I read about RPJ and her attitude to India and this at least partly cancelled out one of the interpretations of the book I'd been building up to that point Although I was intensely engaged in note taking and thinking all through the book the analysis was almost all I got out of it I found the prose boring and the parallels between the two protagonists' stories became heavy handed There are two alternating narratives in Heat and Dust One is told in the third person about Olivia the bored naïve and sheltered new young wife of Douglas a British colonial official in West Bengal; we are told in the book's opening sentence that she ran off with a Nawab in 1923 The other is a first person narrative contemporary to the book's writing in the 1970s by the unnamed British granddaughter of Douglas' second marriage whom I'll refer to as the narrator or the granddaughter She is in her late 20s or early 30s and travels to India with a cache of Olivia's letters to see the scenes of this family scandal which is now beginning to be talked about and to experience some of the 'simplicity' of India that attracted young Westerners on the hippie trail No less than five of the first ten Booker Prize winners 1969 77 address the British Empire and its end I haven't read any of the others but it's clear from these wins that it was a big topic for British literary fiction at the time and was predominantly written about from the British viewpoint all the winners other than VS Naipaul were British or Irish I had never been very keen to read these novels as I expected the writing about India and Indian people would be clumsy from a contemporary viewpoint and I didn't expect there would be much to learn about the old India hands that I hadn't already seen in old documentaries and light novels read when I was younger Starting Heat Dust I wondered if it might be different because the author had lived in post independence India for 24 years with her Indian architect husband surely very a different experience from that of colonial staff or tourists Through most of the book before I'd done research I developed a tentative hypothesis that Prawer Jhabvala a was notably progressive and perceptive in her attitudes by the standards of her time and was subtly critiuing the granddaughter and people of her generation from similar old colonial service families and the hippies who thought they were open minded about India than they actually were Thus the stereotypes in the third person story about Olivia were present because the granddaughter was telling that story and because that was how she and the sources from which she got the information saw the people involved The wilful coercively seductive Muslim Nawab for instance seems to fit the old desert sheikh stereotype in romance This made it seem like a potentially rather interesting piece of literature for its time and such layered complexity would explain its Booker win although some 2010s commentators such as those who criticise the lionising of sexist or abusive male narrators eg in Rebecca Solnit's essay on Lolita would argue that the widespread critical elevation of such narr

Summary Ï E-book, or Kindle E-pub ✓ Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

Een Engels meisje gaat naar India om de geschiedenis van Olivia de eerste vrouw van haar grootvader te reconstruerenIn 1923 zorgde Olivia voor een schandaal door haar man een Brits ambtenaar die gestationeerd was in Satipur te verlaten en ervandoor te gaan met een Indiase prinsHet verhaal speelt zich af op twee niveaus de geschiedenis van Olivia wordt afgewisseld met dagboeknotities van de jonge Engelse Ze vestigt zich. 35 starsWinner of the Booker Prize in 1975; this is actually uite good Ruth Prawer Jhabvala is an interesting character; her parents fled the Nazis in the late 1930s and she lost many family members in the Holocaust She lived initially in Britain and then married an Indian architect and moved to India in 1951 She remained there until the 1970s when she moved to the US where she continued her already creative relationship with the Merchant Ivory team and had a hand in a great many of their films She is a perceptive writer but is something of an outsider Her work has been praised widely but I think Rushdie’s comment about her being a “rootless intellectual” is most perceptive because it sums up the positives and negatives that have been expressed about her work Keen observation but the sense of distanceThis novel jumps between India in the 1970s and India in the 1920s It revolves around Olivia in the 1920s a new bride in India; married to a middle ranking and starchy civil servant and her step granddaughter who is unnamed in the 1970s who is trying to find out about Olivia There are lots of parallels between the two stories There are comparisons to be drawn between the two women between the two India’s between their two loversThe colonial servants are caricatures in many ways; and yet in 1983 I was training to be a priest part of my disreputable past and I was working in a parish in a wealthy area of Birmingham I came across a very old couple who were ex Indian colonial servicemilitary police They would have slotted into the 1920s section of this book uite nicely There was no remorse regret that we had let India go and no understanding of what Imperialism and Empire was about It was like stepping back in time The Nawab in the book is certainly a caricature and has a lack of subtlety; he seems to be a composite of everything that might possibly be wrong with the Indian upper class However the portrayals of the two women I found interesting and the character of Olivia was very good and she deserved a better backdrop Her reactions to the stifling colonial community and her gradual rebellion were well written The descriptive passages relating to the heat especially are good and you can feel the building tension in Olivia’s story It is difficult to understand why Olivia falls for either of the men she falls for; but apparently power is a great aphrodisiac In contrast the two men in the 1970s are entirely different; a hippyaspiring holy man and a lower middle class unremarkable husband; uiescent in a way the 1920s men were not Both of the British men fail to cope with India in entirely different ways and both women stay As you may sense I am a little conflicted in what I think about it and am sitting firmly on the fenceTo conclude I think I wanted but I’m not sure what

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala ✓ 9 Review

Heat and DustO andere wereld en wat gebeurt er als je verder gaat dan anderenVoor In stof en hitte waarin ze de ervaringen van twee Europese vrouwen in verschillende tijden behandelt gezien tegen de achtergrond van een niet westerse cultuur kreeg Ruth Prawer Jhabvala in 1975 de Booker PrizeNaar deze roman werd een prachtige film gemaakt die in 1983 in Nederland is uitgebracht onder de oorspronkelijke titel van het boek; Heat and Dus. I’d been looking forward to reading this book not least because Ruth Prawer Jhabvala wrote the screenplays for wonderful films such as A Room With A View and Howards End and a personal favourite of mine The Remains of the Day I’m also drawn to books set in India Lastly because Heat and Dust won the Man Booker Prize in 1975 although admittedly that year there was only one other book on the shortlist – Thomas Keneally’s Gossip From the Forest You can understand my disappointment then that I didn’t like Heat and Dust as much as I’d hopedTold in alternating story lines from the point of view of Olivia and her step granddaughter the narrator the book moves between the 1920s and the 1970s as the narrator seeks to piece together the story of Olivia supposedly from her letters and journals but of that later and by retracing her steps visiting the places Olivia lived in India Throughout the book there is a real sense of history repeating itself in the lives of the two women Sometimes it’s a case of mistakes of the past being repeated sometimes it’s the two women making different choices when faced with the same dilemma and sometimes it’s just the author’s clever inclusion of subtle echoes between the two timelines such as visits to the same placesThe author evokes the atmosphere of the Indian cities and countryside through which both women travel However they each have uite different responses to the India they encounter Olivia’s experience is one of boredom and isolation of long days spent alone while her husband Douglas is at work mixing just with other Europeans and then only at weekly dinner parties where very little of the culture of India is allowed to intrude In a reference to the book’s title ‘The rest of the time Olivia was alone in her big house with all the doors and windows shut to keep out the heat and dust’The narrator’s response is almost the complete opposite She embraces the atmosphere of India and rather than feeling closed in feels freer than she did back in England as she emulates her Indian neighbours by sleeping outside at night because of the heat ‘I lie awake for hours with happiness actually I have never known such a sense of communion Lying like this under the open sky there is a feeling of being immersed in space – though not in empty space for there are all these people sleeping all around me the whole town and I am part of it How different from my often very lonely room in London with only my own walls to look at and my books to read’ I suppose I should have felt sympathy for Olivia’s frustration but I’m afraid I couldn’t because she seemed so unprepared to do anything about it that didn’t involve destroying her marriage I couldn’t decide if her professed devotion to her husband Douglas was actually that or in fact reliance or dependence on him Olivia also comes across as spoiled and self centered For example when she first encounters the Nawab at a party in his palace and he appears to single her out for attention her reaction is that ‘here at last was one person in India to be interested in her the way she was used to’ What Similarly Olivia professes to be ‘by no means a snob’ she prefers to think of herself as ‘aesthetic’ as if that excuses what follows but on a visit to the sick Mrs Saunders she describes that poor lady as ‘still the same unattractive woman lying in bed in a bleak gloomy house’ Also Olivia muses that Mrs Saunders’ accent ‘was not that of a too highly educated person’ Right so not a snob thenI also really struggled to understand why Olivia or anyone else for that matter should be attracted to the Nawab He comes across as arrogant and manipulative – bordering on coercive – especially towards Harry the young Englishman he has supposedly befriended At one point Harry says of the Nawab ‘He’s a very strong person’ admitting ‘one does not say no t