I would slip into it as into a fragment of time devoid of duration—without beginning, middle, or end. By this time I knew the world to which the drawing room belonged [ It was during his student years that Eliade met Nae Ionescu , who lectured in Logic , becoming one of his disciples and friends. Finding that the Maharaja of Kassimbazar sponsored European scholars to study in India, Eliade applied and was granted an allowance for four years, which was later doubled by a Romanian scholarship. Before reaching the Indian subcontinent , Eliade also made a brief visit to Egypt.
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Bengal Nights was written by a European man in India Calcutta in the s , so I knew I was going to be shaking my head a lot. I expected racism, exotification, cultural ignorance and superiority, paternalism and simplification of the other, and I got all those: "Once more I saw that it was civilized people who were simple, innocent, and clear.
These Indians, whom I loved so much that I wanted to become one of them, all nurtured in the recesses of their beings a whole impenetrable history and mythology.
How deep, complex and unintelligible they seemed to me. He clearly has a couple of agendas. He is a man who believes he can "save" the country and change things, a man who thinks he knows more about the country because of his "superior" status as a European. I was also sure that the encounter of this ancient world with our modern work had yet to find its novelist. I had discovered an India quite different to the one I had read about in sensational newspaper articles The deeper I ventured into this wild domain, the more consuming became a hitherto unconscious notion of my superiority, the more violently assertive a pride of which I would never have believed myself capable.
I was well and truly in the jungle, no longer a social being with perfect self-control. The book is an interesting look into the interracial relationships that can be further complicated by race, colonial attitudes, religion, and societal expectations. There are implications for both but, as to be expected, worse and more serious ones for the woman.
Alain is torn between his life as a privileged white man in India and his intrigue for this other exotic life. Perhaps compounded by his love for Maitreyi, he puts India on a pedestal.
If he understood Indian Bengali Indian culture like he said he did, surely he would have known better than to write such a tale, fictionalized or not, about a person it can easily be attributed to? Additionally, the sexual relationship between Alain and Maitreya is quite explicitly stated, and this was Calcutta in the s, so I can only assume that it was a more conservative time than it is now.