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City of Djinns [Format Kindle]

William Dalrymple , Olivia Fraser

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Descriptions du produit

From Library Journal

Delhi has a richly layered past, and Dalrymple (In Xanadu, McKay, 1990) deftly peels away each layer to reveal how the city came to be what it is today. Djinns are spirits said to be seen only after prolonged fasting and prayer; they too are integral to understanding the city. The author, a young Scot carrying on the fine British tradition of travel writing, has a knack for meeting fascinating people and capturing their most revealing remarks. He introduces us to dervishes, eunuchs, partridge fighting, weddings, and expatriates. His wife contributes sketches that nicely complement his text. Considering the importance of Delhi, the capital of the world's second most populous nation, this book deserves to be in most public and academic libraries.
Harold M. Otness, Southern Oregon State Coll. Lib., Ashland
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Présentation de l'éditeur

‘Could you show me a djinn?’ I asked. ‘Certainly,’ replied the Sufi. ‘But you would run away.’

From the author of the Samuel Johnson Prize-shortlisted ‘The Return of a King’, this is William Dalrymple’s captivating memoir of a year spent in Delhi, a city watched over and protected by the mischievous invisible djinns. Lodging with the beady-eyed Mrs Puri and encountering an extraordinary array of characters – from elusive eunuchs to the last remnants of the Raj – William Dalrymple comes to know the bewildering city intimately.

He pursues Delhi’s interlacing layers of history along narrow alleys and broad boulevards, brilliantly conveying its intoxicating mix of mysticism and mayhem.

‘City of Djinns’ is an astonishing and sensitive portrait of a city, and confirms William Dalrymple as one of the most compelling explorers of India’s past and present.


Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 542 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 352 pages
  • Editeur : HarperPress; Édition : New Ed (14 avril 2011)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B004WC07VE
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°111.406 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Amazon.com: 4.6 étoiles sur 5  95 commentaires
65 internautes sur 66 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Fascinating Work On a Fascinating City 24 août 2005
Par Ronald Pompeo - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
This book, 90% informative and 10% humorous, equals 100% reading enjoyment. It's a delightful and entertaining history of Delhi, India told in a very ingenious way: it runs in reverse pattern from conventional history books in that it starts with the most recent history first and then gradually works back into time, ending in the ancient. However, what I enjoyed the most was how the author always introduces some present-day aspect (an existing ruin or a living person) as background material on which he weaves his historical journey in and out of Delhi's past and present. For example, a Dr. Jaffrey is his link to the Red Fort; a now very old Indian-born English woman, Alice, describes her associations with Lutyens, the creator of New Delhi; a Pakeezah Begum, a crown-princess and librarian, is one of the last surviving descendants of the Mughal emperors and becomes the modern-day connection to history of the Mughal dynasty; and the very decrepit Residency tells you about Delhi's romantic past in the era when it was beautifully intact.

I don't know why, but to me the most poignant stories told were about the Anglo-Indians who ended up abandoned by both Britain and India after the birth of an independent India. I never realized such unfortunate people existed, becoming political refugees denied rights by India, the country of their birth; and by the UK, to which they had blood ties. Mr. Dalrymple interviews a few of these people who by now have grown old and are the living remnants of hardball politics of a bygone era. They give their personal accounts of their own hardships. As victims abused by the system, they were denied basic privileges. These interviews are still quite vivid in my memory.

In the midst of all the daunting history of this city, Mr. Dalrymple intersperses his daily experiences in the form of funny stories about his landlady and apartment; plus he pokes fun of the heat, the noise, the traffic, the driving--all the typical Indian imageries that have been branded in our minds. While these did add diversion to the detailed history, my one fault with the book is that these incidents happened to be the same-ole, stereotypical situations that have been run to the ground about India. I was disappointed that he didn't exert a more pioneering in spirit and come up with more original subjects. Nevertheless, he has a natural talent for describing comical situations (or do I mean describing situations comically?). In spite of this one criticism, I ended up with big smiles on my face many times. And his prowess at transcribing the English spoken in India to the tee can't help but put a grin on your face.

In summary, this is an excellent read just for the sake of learning about a fascinating place. I especially recommend it for history buffs and I heartily recommend it to familiarize yourself with Delhi if it's on your list of travel destinations. I can honestly say that after reading City of Djinns, I most definitely will invest my next time in Delhi looking into some of the sites and districts brought to life in this book.
56 internautes sur 61 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent portrait of a fascinating city 21 mai 2006
Par Tim F. Martin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
_City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi_ by William Dalrymple is an excellent portrait of a fascinating city. I have to admit, having read a few travel essay books on India that the image I had of the city was of a fairly uninteresting place, a "city of gray bureaucracy" as the author put it. Dalrymple showed me just how wrong I was in this intimate depiction of Delhi, past and present.

One of the first things the reader learns in this book is that there is more than one Delhi. The two main Delhis are Mughal Old Delhi and Punjabi New Delhi, each keeping largely to itself, each "absolutely certain of its superiority over the other." Old Delhi has been inhabited for thousands of years, its Urdu-speaking elite (both Hindu and Muslim) having lived in the city for many centuries, the city an ancient one of sophistication and culture, though also a city in severe decline, with many of its once magnificent palaces, gardens, tombs, and mosques, once examples of the "silky refinement" of Mughal architecture now crumbling into ruin, decaying into "something approaching seediness." Many of its citizens are among the last to practice trades dating back to Mughal times, and a large number of them live in exile in Pakistan. In contrast, New Delhi is a growing, booming, bustling city of hard-working nouveau-riche entrepreneurs, largely comprised of people whose roots only go back to the catastrophic days of Partition in 1947, when hundreds of thousands of Punjabi Sikh and Hindu refugees poured into the city. Though I did not get a sense of great conflict between the two Delhis, there was some tension; there are those Old Delhi elites who regard the Punjabi colonizers as unrefined, unsophisticated, vulgar, and even boorish, while there are Punjabis who despise the residents of Old Delhi as "effeminate, slothful, and degenerate."

There are however really more than just two Delhis; some count seven Delhis (the current New Delhi being the eighth), while others count 15, 20, or even more. Even New Delhi is he wrote in 1989 not that new; it is a "groaning necropolis, a "graveyard of dynasties." Many different centuries exist side by side, making it a city "disjointed in time," a city of nouveau-riche Punjabi immigrants of the latter part of the 20th century co-existing with Anglo-Indians from the days of the Raj and fakirs, sadhus, and even eunuchs (which really surprised me) that would have been at home during the days of the Mughals.

Dalrymple takes the reader to the many amazing sights and experiences of all the Delhis. He visited a Sufi enclave, positively medieval in character, home to mystic dervishes sought by all manner of pilgrims for enlightenment, for prayer, for salvation from djinns, which many - even Sikhs and Hindus - believed in. Dalrymple spent time and effort trying to penetrate the enigmatic society of eunuchs; no longer guarding Mughal harems, they have a complex and hidden society, complete with territories, India and Pakistan-wide council of eunuchs, and a Central School of Dance, where eunuchs learn folk, traditional, and modern dance, performing at households that have had weddings or births (informed of such by their network of informants), their presence seen as both a blessing and a curse. He visited festival celebrations such as Dusshera, the Hindu feast celebrating the victory of Lord Ram over the demon Ravanna, Dilwali, the Hindu festival of lights, and al-vida, "the goodbye," the last Friday of the fast of Ramadan, a major event in the Old City. He journeyed to see pigeon fanciers (a passion of the long gone Mughal court), partridge fights (another Mughal tradition), old Anglo-Indian families (who came to suffer the worst racial prejudice of both Indians and British, most having emigrated to America, Canada, and Australia, the few that remained were as he wrote "the optimistic, the old, or the nostalgic", staying on despite some remaining Indian resentment as well as increasing poverty), and a hakim clinic (hakims being Muslim doctors practicing ancient Greek and Unani medicine, the latter of which was derived from heretical Nestorian Christians, fleeing to Sassanid Persia to avoid Byzantine Empire persecution, passing on their knowledge to the Persians, who in turn passed those skills to early Arab conquerors of Islam, who brought their skills to Central Asia and then eventually to India when refugees fleeing Genghis Khan arrived in the subcontinent in the 13th century).

In addition to a tour of places in Delhi, as one might gather the author covered a great deal of history, interweaving it in a skillful manner as it related to his various travels and encounters. Much of the history covered Mughal times though he also covered at length the Raj, Partition, and even as far back as the incredibly ancient times of the great Hindu epic _Mahabharata_, an ancient epic much like the Greek _Iliad_, which like the _Iliad_ has some basis in fact, though it became a story that imposed much later and more elaborate material culture (among others things) from the 4th century AD on what were events that originally transpired in the 9th century BC.

The author provided detailed profiles of many residents of Delhi, past and present. Mr. Balvinder Singh, was a notable figure, an "individualist who believes in the importance of asserting himself," a taxi driver who befriended William and his wife Olivia, a hilarious character to read about at times. Also important were Mr. and Mrs. Puri, the Sikh couple that was their landlords and who also became friends, and Dr. Yunus Jaffrey, a gentle scholar of classic Persian, an expert on Mughal times. Notable past figures included the murderous tyrant Sultan Tughluk, the 14th century Moroccan adventurer Ibn Battuta, the highly artistic but brutally cold-blooded Shah Jehan (he constructed the Taj Mahal), William Fraser (an early 19th century Scot who styled himself a local ruler; Dalrymple compared him to Mr. Kurtz from _Heart of Darkness_), and Sir Edwin Lutyens (a fabulous architect who was regrettably quite racist).
22 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Illuminating an ancient city full of Djinns - Recommend 1 août 2000
Par fdoamerica - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
A Djinn is a spirit, not visible to the naked eye, and to see one in Delhi, India you have to cleans yourself from the natural world by fasting and prayer . In the ancient city of Delhi there are thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of Djinns who serve to testify of both Delhi's glorious and hideous past. Delhi is one of the oldest cities in the world and for the past 3000 years has reincarnated itself. To uncover its culture and civilization takes the care and commitment of an archaeologist, or a journalist. William Dalrymple is an award winning journalist. In 1994 he was awarded the Cook Travel Award. In City of Djinns, William Dalrymple paints a vibrant portrait of Delhi past and present with colorful words. His journalistic research and unique writing skills call forth the spirits of both times past and present, illuminating for the reader the incredible history of this city.
His humorous and provocative description of how he spent a year in Delhi, with his artistic wife Olivia, while he researched the city's history brings contemporary Delhi alive. True to life characters, like his authoritative spendthrift landlady, Mrs. Puri, or his slightly maniacal taxi drive Balvinder Singh, give his settings an unusual liveliness. Add India pigeon lovers, mystical healers, an enterprising group of transvestites (eunuchs), the baffling Indian bureaucracy, weddings, parties, funerals and religious holidays and "voila" you have an entertaining and informative travel/history book.
If you are going to, or ever have been to Delhi, India you owe it to yourself to read City of Djinns. Recommended.
25 internautes sur 29 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Outstanding 29 avril 1999
Par A. Ross - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
A really wonderful book about the city of Delhi. Dalrymple and his wife go to spend a year living in Delhi (how did they afford this?), and he uses this arrangement as a way of chronicling the present day status of the city and delving deep into its history. He's done a very nice job of moving back and forth between present and past, managing to keep all his meetings and interviews with various experts quite interesting. The only part which lost my interest was an extended look into Sufi mysticism, but I just skimmed it and moved along. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in India, and especially to anyone planning a trip to Delhi.
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A beautiful book 9 juin 2007
Par krebsman - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I loved Dalrymple's FROM THE HOLY MOUNTAIN and this book is just as good. Young (age 25) Dalrymple with his wife Olivia spent a year in Delhi doing research and has written a fascinating book about a colorful city with a long and turbulent history. What makes the book so interesting is not its history but Dalrymple's day-to-day dealings with the Delhi-wallahs he knows. There's his penny-pinching Sikh landlady Mrs. Puri, who has built an impressive financial empire in Delhi since she arrived penniless from the Punjab in the partition of 1947. Dalrymple gets quite few laughs from her tight-fisted philosophy, but also ultimately reveals her to be a vulnerable human being. There's also his irrepressible driver, Mr. Balvinder Singh of the International Backside Taxi Company who takes the Dalrymples on hair-raisingly fast rides through the throng of Delhi traffic, all the while cursing other drivers and pointing out attractive women along the roadside. But the person in Delhi that Dalrymple obviously has the most affection for is the gentle Muslim intellectual, Dr. Jaffrey, who has a beautiful story about virtually everything. The Delhi that Dalrymple reveals is not what I had expected. My favorite parts of the book were about the partridge fights, the storefront healers, and the mysterious subculture of the eunuchs who support themselves not only by dancing at weddings but by threatening to flash if people don't give them money. Dalrymple makes several interesting excursions, among them a trip to Karachi to visit the writer Ahmed Ali and a trip to the hill station of Simla, the scene of so many illicit romantic intrigues in Kipling's stories.

One thing I found extremely interesting about the book is that the rule of the British has been virtually forgotten by the Indians. Yes, the English left their language behind, but it has evolved into a colorful dialect all its own (which Dalrymple shockingly compares to American). This is a thoughtful and provocative book, written with charm and good humor. Dalrymple's own language verges on the poetic throughout the book. Here's a sentence describing the elderly Muslim exiles now living in Pakistan: "The old men swam together through great oceans of nostalgia before finally coming ashore on a strand of melancholy." What more can I say? It's a beautiful book. There's a useful glossary of Indian words appended as well as a detailed bibliography. Olivia Fraser Dalrymple supplied the evocative watercolor artwork. I'm planning a trip to India when I retire four years from now. I'm so glad I read this book.
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