Nissim Ezekiel: the authorized biography

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Viking, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 401 pages
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Nissim Ezekiel was born in a Jewish family in Bombay, and with his poetic evocations of the city, gave rise to a school of poetry popularly referred to as the Bombay school. Considered by many to be the father of Indian English poetry, he has been the inspiration and guiding light for a whole generation of younger poets, including Dom Moraes, Gieve Patel, Eunice de Souza and Ranjit Hoskote.

In this meticulously researched biography, R. Raj Rao traces the development of Ezekielıs poetry and life against the background of the intellectual, cultural and political climate in India over almost seven decadesıfrom the thirties to the present. We see Nissim as a curious Jewish schoolboy, a reluctant revolutionary temporarily attracted to the personality and politics of M.N. Roy, a loner longing for adventure in London, and an earnest young man writing serious metaphysical letters to his friend Solomon. The many facets of Ezekielıs versatile personalityıa bohemian responding to flower power with LSD and sex yet striving for an arranged marriage with a Jewish girl; a restless soul pursuing his interest in travel, art, literature, theatre and journalism, then settling down to a dedicated career in teachingıare skillfully brought out by Rao. The last section of the book deals with Ezekielıs increasing loneliness and his inability to recognize old friends, and finally his being diagnosed with Alzheimerıs disease in 1998. Drawing on previously unpublished letters, poems and essays, as well as discussions with the poet and interviews with friends and peers, Rao examines the desires and realities of Ezekielıs life. He brings out the contradictions that comprised it, and which, ironically, nourished his muse. Rao also provides detailed analyses of Ezekielıs poems, locating them in the context of Indian and world literature. Scholarly, exhaustive and provocative, this is the definitive biography of one of Indiaıs foremost poets.

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