Chosen by Outlook magazine as one of the notable books of 1999
This evocative and beautiful written work brings to life one of the most remarkable figures of twentieth-century India. Verrier Elwin (1902-64) was an anthropologist, poet, Gandhian, hedonist, Englishman, and Indian.
Savaging the Civilized reveals a many-sided scholar equally at ease with folklore and fiction; a friend of the Indian elite who was at home with the impoverished and the destitute; a charismatic and intense charmer of women who can comfortable with intellectuals such as Arthur Koestler and Jawaharlal Nehru; an anthropologist who lived and loved with the tribes yet wrote literary essays and monographs for the learned.
Savaging the Civilized is both biography and history, an exploration through Verrier Elwin's life of some of the great debates of the twentieth century - the future of development, cultural pluralism versus cultural homogeneity, the moral practice of intellectuals and writers. It is essential reading for all interested in literature, anthropology, cultural survival, and the social history of modern India.
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Excerpts from Reviews:
'[A]n excellent biography, the best example of the genre by an Indian for many years
[A] vastly enjoyable book.'
-Sunil Khilnani, The Times Literary Supplement
'A wrenching and grand biography in the classical mould, that sounds the gong for the coming of age of the modern Indian biography.'
-Binoo John, Outlook
'Elwin deserves this excellent biography by Ramachandra Guha
Biographer and subject are well matched, even in the quality of their prose.'
-David Gilmour, The Spectator
'[Guha] has not only rescued Elwin from the dead weight of anthropological morbidity, he has re-established good, liberal scholarship
Savaging the Civilized is a landmark.'
-Swapan Dasgupta, India Today
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