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Writer, Rebel, Soldier, Lover

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Akshaya Mukul is the author of Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India (2015), which won every m... Read More

Product Description

Akshaya Mukul is the author of Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India (2015), which won every major non-fiction award in India on its release, including the Crossword Book Award, Ramnath Goenka Award, Tata Literature Live Award, Atta-Galatta-Bangalore Literature Festival Prize and the Shakti Bhatt Award. Mukul is the recipient of the Homi Bhabha, Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund and the New India Foundation fellowships. He has contributed essays to Keywords for India: A Conceptual Lexicon for the 21st Century, edited by Rukmini Bhaya Nair and Peter Ronald deSouza, and A Functioning Anarchy? Essays for Ramachandra Guha, edited by Srinath Raghavan and Nandini Sundar.

"An outstanding literary biography" AMITAV GHOSH

"Mukul writes beautifully, and brings to life a man who has often been misunderstood" BENJAMIN MOSER

"This book is a remarkable contribution to the world of Indian letters: ANNIE ZAIDI


Sachchidanand Hirananda Vatsyayan 'Agyeya' is unarguably one of the most remarkable figures of Indian literature. From his revolutionary youth to acquiring the mantle of a (highly controversial) patron saint of Hindi literature, Agyeya's turbulent life also tells a history of the Hindi literary world and of a new nation-spanning as it does two world wars, Independence and Partition, and the building and fraying of the Nehruvian state.

Akshaya Mukul's comprehensive and unflinching biography is a journey into Agyeya's public, private and secret lives. Based on never-seen-before archival material-including a mammoth trove of private papers, documents of the CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom and colonial records of his years in jail-the book delves deep into the life of the nonconformist poet-novelist. Mukul reveals Agyeya's revolutionary life and bomb-making skills, his CIA connection, a secret lover, his intense relationship with a first cousin, the trajectory of his political positions, from following M.N. Roy to exploring issues dear to the Hindu right, and much more. Along the way, we get a rare peek into the factionalism and pettiness of the Hindi literary world of the twentieth century, and the wondrous and grand debates which characterized that milieu.

Writer, Rebel, Soldier, Lover features a formidable cast of characters: from writers like Premchand, Phanishwarnath Renu, Raja Rao, Mulk Raj Anand and Josephine Miles to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, revolutionary Chandra Shekhar Azad and actor Balraj Sahni. And its landscapes stretch from British jails, an intellectually robust Allahabad and modern-day Delhi to monasteries in Europe, the homes of Agyeya's friends in the Himalayas and universities in
the US. This book is a magnificent examination of Agyeya's civilizational enterprise.

Ambitious and scholarly, Writer, Rebel, Soldier, Lover is also an unputdownable, whirlwind of a read.

Akshaya Mukul's Agyeya was a revelation to me: one of the twentieth century's emblematic lives, spent in between languages and nations. Mukul writes beautifully, and brings to life a man who has often been misunderstood. I felt grateful for this book and I had the feeling that Agyeya would have been too.A richly detailed and finely nuanced portrait of a complicated and contradictory literary figure. This is both an outstanding literary biography and an important work of social history.Akshaya Mukul's hefty, unsparing examination of Agyeya's life introduces us not just to the contradictions and ideological currents flowing through the life of a literary icon, but also serves as an introduction to the cultural and political debates that defined twentieth-century India. Rich with details of characters and creative processes, this book is a remarkable contribution to the world of Indian letters.

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