Author: Susanne Hoeber Rudolph
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0195647521
This selection from what may well is one of the world's longest continuous diaries, extending over forty-four years, filling 89 folio volumes of 800 pages each, Amar Singh records his sense of discovery and surprise at diverse sites.
Amar Singh reverses the gaze. A colonial subject contemplates an imperial other: He begins writing at twenty, producing what may well be one of the world's longest continuous diaries, extending over forty-four years, filling 89 folio volumes of 800 pages each. These selections, from the years 1898 to 1905, are the work of the young Amar Singh. He records his sense of discovery and surprise at diverse sites: the Jodhpur court, the women's quarters of the Jaipur haveli, Lord Curzon's Imperial Cadet Corps, the British Expeditionary Force in China.
In daily negoitations with his British and Rajput counterplayers, he constructs a hybrid self, a Rajput nobleman and an Edwardian officer and gentleman. The British appear sometimes as peers and friends, sometimes as racist masters. He resists becoming ' a coolie for the raj'. Through daily entries, the reader experiences the immediacy of Amar Singh's subjectivity.
Why did he writ? Threatened by the boredom of princely state and raj philistinism, Amar Singh writes to 'keep myself amused' and reads to stay intellectually alive. His diary becomes an alter ego and best friend. Liminally positioned on the borders of princely and British India, he writes about culture in the making as well as in the doing.
In an era that seems more comfortable with the subjective truths of agency and voice than with the objective truths of structural determination or formal analysis, Amar Singh's reflective narrative offers an open-ended, constructivist explanation of history and self.
SUSANNE HOEBAR RUDOLPH & LLOYD I RUDOLPH are Professors in the Department of political science at the University of Chicago. Their books, The Modernity of Tradition; Gandhi; and In Pursuit of Lakshmi are essential reading for students and researchers of Indian politics.
MOHAN SINGH KANOTA, Amar Singh's nephew and heir, is the author of The history of the Champawats and Kaschhwahas of Hamir Dev, both in Hindi.