Unsurpassed as a prose stylist, Ved Mehta is an acknowledged master of the essay from. In this book -- the first special collection of Mehta's outstanding writings -- the distinguished author demonstrates a wide range of possibilities available to the narrative and descriptive writer today. Addressing subjects that range from religion to politics and on to education, and writing with eloquence and high style, Mehta here offers a sampling of his works.
Mehta provides a splendid, insightful introduction on the craft of the essay, meditating on the long history and diverse purposes of the form and on the struggle of learning to write in it himself. In the eight reportorial, autobiographical, and reflective essays that follow -- each a self-contained examination of cultural, intellectual, or personal themes -- he writes on his experience of becoming an American citizen; on Christian theology, with a focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer; on Calcutta and the poorest of the Indian poor; on the disastrous fates of three of Mehta's brilliant Oxford contemporaries; and on a variety of other subjects.
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Ved Mehta is currently a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford. He was a staff writer on The New Yorker from 1961 to 1994 and has taught literature and history at half a dozen colleges and universities, including Williams, Vassar, and Yale. He is the author of an autobiographical series of books with the omnibus title Continents of Exile, of which the eighth book, Remembering Mr. Shawns New Yorker, has just been published. Among his other books are Portrait of India, Mahatma Gandhi and His Apostles, and Rajiv Gandhi and Ramas Kingdom, all obtainable from Yale University Press.From Library Journal:
Mehta (Remembering Mr. Shawn's New Yorker, LJ 5/15/98) has selected eight essays from his 20 books as an introduction to his work and "as a teaching aid to young wordsmiths." These lengthy essays deal with such diverse subjects as contemporary Oxford philosophers, the economic and social problems of Calcutta, and Mrs. Clyde, the wealthy benefactor who helped finance the author's education. In his introduction, Mehta states that it is "economy of thought and language" that makes prose memorable. Unfortunately, he does not apply this frugality to his own essays, which ramble on without humor, charm, or vivacity. He matter-of-factly records everything he has heard or discussed or read about his subject, no matter how trivial. His plodding style and rather dull approach make this volume an unnecessary purchase.?Ilse Heidmann, San Marcos, TX
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