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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

2007 and All That

As a child, one of the books in my father's library that was always a source of chuckles and guffaws was Sellar & Yeatman's 1066 and All That, now available again in it's 75th Anniversary Edition. The book spawned as many sequels and variations as did the title itself.

If you like humour, rush and buy it now! I lost the original (with most of my father's books) in a tragedy that I'd rather not dwell upon, so I am certainly waiting to get my hands on a copy soon. It will occupy pride of place on the shelf that houses the Richard Armour and Spike Milligan histories.

Our own history is too brief for such elaborate spoofs, although Ibné Insha's Urdu Ki Aakhri Kitaab does include a short and brilliant piece on Akbar and his Nau-Ratans (= Jewels) as his learned band of advisors was called) that parallel the government shenanigans of Ayub Khan and his advisors. Inspired, I suspect, by 1066 - an acknowlegded classic of the time - Ibné Insha's book, too, features classroom style questions at the end of the chapter[s]. My favourite question: Would you like to become well-educated and be a Nauratan or remain uneducated and become a King?
A word of caution: Someone has translated Insha Jee's masterpiece into English. Please. If you can read even basic Urdu, read the original - for a lot of the nuances have been lost in translation. Sarcasm and wit, like poetry, is the most difficult to tote across linguistic barriers without serious damage.
Unless I am mistaken, it was the Sellar & Yeatman book which stated that the rule of Henry the IV Part 1 was followed by that of Henry the IV Part 2 ... which is what, today, I was reminded of as President Musharraf Part 1 prepares to hand over charge to President Musharraf Part 2. It is important to note that in the case of the Henries, it was Shakespeare and not Schizophrenia that was the coas cause.

Being older than most of my blog readers (many among them are about one-third my age) I do realise that a lot of our national and political history is unknown to them because, for the same reason that they are unfamiliar with even those subjects they once scored A's in, it has been taught at school where the concentration is primarily on dates and stats. Sadly, even that is not laid out in any cohesive manner. To help with that, for starters, I have a chart that (seriously!) could help youngsters - many of whom are out protesting these days - understand at least those aspects. Maybe schools can even put it up in their classrooms.

If you find factual errors in the above (dates, names, parties)
email me and I will put up the corrected version asap.

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Anonymous Anne said...

Thanks for the chart, Sir. It goes into my thesis today.

05 December, 2007 18:43


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