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In the Afternoon of Time - An Autobiography
by Harivansh Rai Bachchan      (Author ALERT)

Our Price: $47.50 USD

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ProductID: 8747 - Paperback - 603 Pages (Year: 2001/3)
Penguin ~ ISBN: 9780140276633

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Now in paper back edition, this English translation is a creative abridgement of the original that dwells on the life and times of one of the greatest Hindi writers of our time.

Bachchan wrote four volumes of his autobiography which was to earn widespread praise from critics and readers alike. 'In the Afternoon of Time' is a creative abridgment of these four volumes, translated into English for the first time.

Hindi litterateur Harivansh Rai Bachchan was born in Allahabad in 1907, and acquired immense popularity in the 1930s through Madhushala, a long poem inspired by the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Some three decades later, by now well established as a major figure on the Hindi literary scene, Bachchan wrote the first of four volumes of his autobiography, which was to earn widespread praise from critics and readers alike. ‘In the Afternoon of Time’ is a creative abridgement of these four volumes, translated into English for the first time.

These intensely personal memoirs span several generations, tracing the history of Bachchan’s forebears, who came to live in Allahabad from a small village in Uttar Pradesh. With a bittersweet tone that recalls the lyricism of ‘Madhushala’, the author draws a portrait of provincial life in the first decades of the century, and describes with remarkable candor the struggles, joys and heartbreak of his early life. The narrative dwells at length on the death of his young wife and the ensuing trauma’ remarriage, and a teaching assignment in the English department of Allahabad University; his Ph.D. work on W.B. Yeats in Cambridge; a long stint as Hindi Officer in the Ministry of External Affairs; an interlude in the Rajya Sabha; and the meteoric rise of his elder son Amitabh in the world of Hindi Cinema.

In his brilliant translation, Rupert Snell has succeeded in communicating the power and intensity that made the original work a classic in the genre of autobiographical writing in India.


Dr Rupert Snell is Reader in Hindi at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He has published a variety of studies on Hindi language and literature and his interests include both medieval and modern works. He is currently translating contemporary Hindi poetry and also writing a study of the seventeenth-century poet Biharilal.

 Table of Contents

Translator’ Preface

A Family from Pratapgarh
Radha and Her Brother
Grandfather in Lalitpur
My Father, Pratap Narayan
A Boy Named for the ‘Harivansha Purana’
Chak Mohalla
Karkal and Champa
Educational and Matrimonial
‘Joy’ and ‘Suffering’
On the Way to ‘Madhushala’
A Bell for the Departed

The Ship of Death
Dehra Dun
Tomorrow We Prevail
A New Abode to find
A Sapphire and a Telegram
A Well-Built Nest
The ‘Bachchan’ Family

The University Clock
Where Learning Robed in Sable Reigns
The Fiddler of Dooney
A Guest at the High Table
For a Handful of Silver He Left Us

Bachchan Babu
In the Field of Righteous Duty
The Stage of the World
Russia Again
A State of Emergency
Amitabh’s Father




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