Sunday, January 01, 2012

Book Review: The Argumentative Indian

Suffering from insomnia? Read "The Argumentative Indian", by Amartya Sen.

"The Argumentative Indian" is supposed to be observations about Indian culture and society. It might be that, but the language was so convoluted that any beauty or meaning was lost in the maze of words. Here is a sample passage, after which I decided to drop the book.
Yet, as is discussed in Essays 7, 8 and 15, general statements about India and Indians can be found throughout history, from the ancient days of Alexander the Great, of Megasthenes (author of the Indika, in the third century BCE), and of Apollonius of Tyana (an India-expert in the first century CE) to the 'medieval' days of Arab and Iranian visitors (who, like Alberuni, wrote so much about the land and the people of India), all the way to the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment Europe (with heroic generalizations about India presented by Herder, Schelling, Schlegel and Schopenhauer, among many others).
Say what? If you were counting, that contained one sentence.

I'm sure the book contains some useful insight but the unconnected ideas and the lack of flow made the book unreadable. I would recommend V.S. Naipaul instead. Not only does he have insight into Indian culture and society, but the language is beautifully readable.