In an antique land The cover proclaims IAAL “History in the guise of a traveller’s tale,” and the multi-generic book moves back and forth between Ghosh’s. Once upon a time an Indian writer named Amitav Ghosh set out to find an Indian slave, name unknown, who some seven hundred years before had traveled to. Such is the underlying motif of IN AN ANTIQUE LAND, Amitav Ghosh’s fascinating study which blends a historical detective story with his own experiences as a.

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Known to his subordinates as Over-Baring, he had served in various administrative posts in India and Egypt, and had found little reason to be enthusiastic about the abilites of their modern inhabitants. Sep 22, Diane rated it really liked it Shelves: My face was hot with embarrassment and my throat had gone dry: What ultimately brings the two narratives together is the ln of nostalgia for a bygone, simpler and more peaceful age.

I got lost so many times. It was to establish him as possibly the greatest of the Geniza scholars, the pioneering researcher without whose labours an inquiry into the lives of Ben Yiju and the Slave of MS H. I had encountered all of them before, occasionally at the doorway to Shaikh Musa’s house and sometimes in the guest-room when they came in to hand out tea.

He was often reminded of this by a cousin’s son, Jabir, a boy in his late teens, with bright, malicious eyes and a amitxv that bristled with barbs. But the wallet vanished back into his pocket in a flash, before I had time to respond. And in terms of craft, this is really the best kind of rag-tag storytelling, founded in the way conversations with people actually work: Eight centuries later, those odd solecisms often have an awkward, endearingly human grace, where the correct form would seem merely formal or stilted.

I happened to look up then and I saw Jabir, standing silently in the stairway, watching me. At that time European scholarly interest was focused on the Egypt of the ancients; the Synagogue of Ben Ezra was too much a part of Masr to merit attention.


Thosh Ahmed had been through school and college too, I had every reason to assume that they were a lnad. Strauss, in the issue of a Hebrew journal, Zion, published in Jerusalem.

Full text of “In an Antique Land”

There were several such pumps in the surrounding villages: His name was Elkan N. At the time, at least one European was moved to bewilderment by the unfamiliar mores of the region; a response more honest perhaps than the trust in historical inevitability that has supplanted it since. But perhaps one of the things that most surprised Ghosh is, in today’s world of oil and post-colonialism and derivatives trading and Israel, how unlikely and foreign such a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual story from a millenium ago sounds.

Schechter eventually decided to leave behind the printed fragments and take only the written ones. In the second narrative, presented parallel to the first one in the book, Ghosh reconstructs the history of a 12th-century Jewish merchant, Abraham Ben Yiju, and his slaves Ashu and Bomma, using documents from the Cairo Geniza.

In an Antique Land

The room was dark; all the windows were shut and the lamp had not been lit. I had not noticed it before for it was largely hidden by his thick, dark hair. To most Egyptians outside Cairo, their metaphor stands for the entire city: Contrast this with the kind of civilisation where over a thousand years, the Jews could go about their business in peace, archiving their culture in the geniza without the synagogue ever having been looted, pillaged and burned to the ground, as would have happened anywhere in the West over that same time period.

After this battle ‘the German Franks returned’ wrote the Arab historian who had so dreaded their arrival, ‘to their country which lies over yonder and God rid the faithful of this calamity.


Isn’t it Indira Gandhi? It is known that many of these documents were from the Cairo Geniza, but as to amtav they were there is no way of knowing because Firkowitch never revealed his sources. In the evenings he shut out the bellowing of his fat landlord by turning up the volume of his transistor radio and wrote stories based on what he had seen in the village.

Now at last, the time had come to pay the city a proper visit. Also by Amitav Ghosh.

In an Antique Land: History in the Guise of a Traveler’s Tale

But on this occasion, after saying his evening prayers, Shaikh Musa had risen to his feet and led me out of the guest-room, into the lamplit interior of the house. Combining shrewd observations with painstaking historical research, Ghosh serves up skeptics and holy men, merchants and sorcerers. But of course, Jews continued to use Hebrew for religious purposes and, in time, when they started writing in their newly adopted tongue, it was in the sanctified alphabet of their Scriptures.

Feb 26, Emmeviene rated it really liked it. The crowd began to cheer them on and one of the boys swung high enough to go all the way around the bar in a complete circle.

It was only when the Sidi’s son lent a hand that the body began to move, but even then, it was not he who moved the body: I found it extremely boring. Believe me that I feel twice as strongly and even more than what you have described Now, how do these stories antiqur together?

The people who used it would often try to introduce Arabic classicisms into their written language, with varying degrees of success. You see how practical your old man is.