Historical fictions throw insight into our lives: Tharoor

July 24th, 2010 - 2:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Shashi Tharoor New Delhi, July 24 (IANS) History makes for compelling books because they offer insights into our lives, says MP and writer Shashi Tharoor, who would love to write a historical fiction himself in future.
“Historical fictions are very important because they depict a different time period and throw fresh insight into our lives. They show how our lives derive from that time period. Reading historical fiction is a method of reconnecting,” Tharoor said, releasing writer and psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar’s new book, “The Crimson Throne”, at the French ambassador’s residence in the capital.

The book, Kakar’s fifth novel, is a window to the decadence of Mughal India during 30 years of emperor Shah Jahan’s reign and the war of succession to the Peacock Throne between the emperor’s tolerant eldest son Dara Shukoh and his astute sibling Aurangzeb.

It is a dispassionate study of the first clash within the spiritual mosaic of Islam - a war precipitated by Dara’s religious inclusiveness and Aurangzeb’s bigotry told by two European travellers.

The book begins with an assessment of the state of affairs in the “Dilli durbar” by two eunuchs.

The former minister of state for external affairs was joined in his “discussion of the book in context of 17th century India’s socio-political milieu” by French Ambassador Jerome Bonnafont and Roberto Toscano, ambassador of Italy, in an uncanny throwback to Kakar’s tale that was recounted by two travellers, the Italian Niccolao Manucci and Frenchman Francois Bernier.

Asked “whether the book was similar to Salman Rushdie’s ‘Enchantress of Florence’”, Tharoor said: “If you take a look at the ‘Enchantress of Florence’, I think they are very different, but they are very good.”

“Both the books have an Italian connection, but the writers are different in their styles and approaches. The books have an interesting element of contrast,” he said.

Tharoor said “the research for the book was excellent and it was faithful to the attitudes of the cast”.

“Shah Jahan’s reign was barely 30 years after the reign of Akbar who started the syncretisation of religion. It was marked by some limitations,” he said.

The MP, a student of history who has authored as many as 12 books, re-interpreted history in his book, “The Great Indian Novel”. It looked at the events of the

Mahabharata in context of Indian politics since Independence.

“I would love to write a historical fiction in the future,” Tharoor said when asked if he would ever attempt one.

But the minister is starved for time.

“To write a fiction, you need time and space to create an alternative universe in the head,” he said.

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