- Paperback: 222 pages
- Publisher: New Directions; Reprint edition (8 August 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 081121267X
- ISBN-13: 978-0811212670
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 30 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,11,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Twilight in Delhi (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – 8 Aug 1994
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In this novel written in English and completed in 1939, Ali, an Urdu-speaking native of India, commemorated the daily melody of traditional life in the old city of Delhi among the last, impoverished heirs to the refined Mogul civilization that dominated India until the advent of the English. Set during the early years of this century, it recaptures the texture of family life for Mir Nihal, a well-born Muslim who loves pigeons and whose son wants to get married. It recounts how that son, Asgar, fell in love, married, fell out of love, had a daughter, and became a widower. Ali's Proustian command of detail makes this archetypically human story sing. When, for instance, cats manage to kill Mir Nihal's pigeons, Ali makes us feel a visceral sense of his loss--and of his impending doom. At book's end, Mir Nihal lies bedridden after a stroke, Asgar is widowed, and the English have torn down Delhi's ancient walls and are building a "New Delhi" that will swamp the old. A perfect novel, the more valuable for its unique subject. John Shreffler
A perfect novel, the more valuable for its unique subject. — Booklist
It is beautifully written and very moving...At the end one has a poignant feeling that poetry and daily life have got parted, and will never come together again. — E.M. Forster
A marvelous novel, where a world being extinguished by modernity is illuminated in a parting gaze that possesses both clarity and warmth. — Siddhartha Deb
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It is not clear if the work reflects the author's own sentiments. (Probably not, since he does make a passing reference to the Purusha suktam!) It projects a picture of a parochial world, one populated only by Muslims (if it were not that the word "Hindu" occurs about 4 times - one would not know that such people existed in the same city). Maybe this is how things were.The irony is that the sentiments expressed by the protaganist about the British, could very easily have been uttered by the Hindus about the Muslim rulers.
Particularly engaging are the parts describing the marriage function in the Muslim families of yesteryears, and in describing the helpless weariness of characters in facing death and monotony of old age..
Sometimes , the story line become too thin to retain the full attention, and the pace too slow , then one can take refugee in the beautiful narrative style that is never too-direct, just like the gentle life of those years perhaps..
//when the water started singing, Mir Nihal added tea leaves, cinnamon and cardamom ..
or, the sun had almost set, and the night, with its awakening cold, was spreading her dark and star-bejewelled wings over the earth..
or, suddenly the western horizon became coppery, and it seemed that some hidden power was shooting tons of burning sand from below the earth towards the sky..the wind struck against houses and roofs and trees; blew with vengeance through openings..it howled through the courtyards, in the by-lanes, in the streets...
or, already under the earth the worms must have set upon her lovely body, already she was in the land of the dead..and nothing could bring her back to life again ."
Ahmed Ali is a gem of a writer and how beautifully he describes the life around a family living in the old delhi.
A good read if you are searching a book on delhi.
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The story is about the Saiyyed family, specifically Mir Nihal and his young adult son Asghar.Read more