The Wonders Of Vilayet: Being the Memoir, Originally in Persian, of a Visit to France and Britain in 1765

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9781900715157: The Wonders Of Vilayet: Being the Memoir, Originally in Persian, of a Visit to France and Britain in 1765
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The Wonders of Vilayet In 1765, Mirza Sheikh I'tesamuddin, a Bengali secretary employed by the East India Company, traveled on a mission to Britain to seek protection for the Mogul emperor Shah Alam II. The mission was aborted by the greed and duplicity of Robert Clive, but it resulted in this remarkable account of the Mirza's travels in Britain and Europe. This is an entertaining, unique, and culturally valuable docume... Full description

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In 1765, Mirza Sheikh I tesamuddin, a Bengali secretary employed by the East India Company, traveled on a mission to Britain to seek protection for the Mogul emperor Shah Alam II. The mission was aborted by the greed and duplicity of Robert Clive, but it resulted in this remarkable account of the Mirza s travels in Britain and Europe. This is an entertaining, unique, and culturally valuable document of those journeys.
"

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In 1765, Mirza Sheikh I'tesamuddin, a Bengali munchi (secretary) employed by the East India Company, travelled on a mission to Britain to seek protection for the Mogul Emperor Shah Alam II. The mission was aborted by the greed and duplicity of Robert Clive, but it resulted in this remarkable account of the Mirza's travels in Britain and Europe. Written in Persian, 'Shigurf Nama-e-Vilayet' or 'Wonderful Tales about Europe' is an entertaining, unique and culturally valuable document. The Mirza was in no sense a colonial subject, and whilst he wrote frankly about what he felt accounted for India's decline and Europe's contemporary ascendance, he was a highly educated, culturally self-confident observer with a sharp and quizzical curiosity about the alien cultures he encountered. His account of his sea-voyage, taking in Mauritius and the Cape, combines 'modern' ethnological notes on the countries he passed with an older tradition of travellers' tales.

His accounts of visits to the theatre, the circus, freakshows, the 'mardrassah [University] of Oxford', Scotland, of the racial alarms his presence sometimes provoked and of his impressions of British moral codes are considered and acute, making for fascinating reading. He writes of his perceptions of the commercial energy of London, of the British constitution, of politics and of religious practice and beliefs in England. He records the several conversations he has with his English hosts about the similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity, showing much more familiarity with the latter than that of his hosts with the former. Writing in Persian he makes no effort to flatter the English. He is not impressed with the 'filthy habits of the firinghees' [Whites]) Kaiser Haq's scholarly, modern translation is the first to appear in English since the original abridged and flawed translation of 1827. The Wonders of Vilayet is an important document. Not until Gandhi's early 20th century accounts is there a similarly extended expression of South Asian perceptions of the West.

In this respect, this book is salutary complement to Western accounts of the 'Otherness' of India, orientalism in reverse.

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9789848715079: The Wonders of Vilayet

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