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Hindoo Holiday: An Indian Journal (New York…
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Hindoo Holiday: An Indian Journal (New York Review Books Classics) (edition 2000)

by J.R. Ackerley, Eliot Weinberger (Introduction)

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283639,844 (3.8)16
Member:TimBazzett
Title:Hindoo Holiday: An Indian Journal (New York Review Books Classics)
Authors:J.R. Ackerley
Other authors:Eliot Weinberger (Introduction)
Info:NYRB Classics (2000), Edition: First Edition. first thus, Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:memoir, india, j r ackerley

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Hindoo Holiday: An Indian Journal by J. R. Ackerley

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One suspects that the profound sadness often seen in his fictional characters, reflects troubles in Ackerley’s private life. What a pleasure it is then, to experience Ackerley’s “bright-young-thing” moment in Hindoo Holiday. The memoir is set in the 1920’s when the writer was employed as the personal secretary to an eccentric Maharajah. The book offers fascinating historical detail, naughty fun and a waggish indifference to political correctness.
  vplprl | Dec 3, 2013 |
Hindoo Holiday is an account of the time that the author, JR Ackerley, spent in india working as a secretary to the Maharajah of Chhatapur (jokingly changed to Chhokrapur, apparently meaning “City of the Boys,” for this book). The Maharajah is an eccentric old man who enjoys riddling conversations and the company of boy actors.

The setting is the British Raj, when Indian rulers had a fair amount of autonomy—but in the wake of peace, there was very little that the Maharajahs could actually do. So, in possession of vast amounts of wealth, according to the introduction to this book, these rulers spent their money on untold luxury. It was amidst this environment that this book is set, and the Maharajah Sahib of Chhokrapur is one of these.

The diary covers roughly six months in 1923 and 1924; apparently, the Maharajah, a great reader of Rider Haggard, had wanted a secretary similar to Olaf in The Wanderder’s Necklace. Ackerley rarely interjects his own thoughts into the pages of his diary, but he’s skilled at depicting the minutiae of the court he lives in as well as describing the people with whom he interacted. As such, the tone of the books seems a bit insulated, because Ackerley rarely discuses what’s going on in the larger world. Hindoo Holiday was an instant hit when it was published in 1932, primarily due to its salacious content (in fact, much of the original book had to be cut because of Ackerley’s references to homosexuality). ( )
1 vote Kasthu | Feb 2, 2013 |
HINDOO HOLIDAY, while it does contain Ackerley's familiar low-key self-deprecating brand of humor, does not measure up to his other three books. It is essentially an edited journal of the several months he spent as a so-called secretary to the Maharajah of a small kingdom in India in the 1920s. It is an interesting look at the customs and foibles of the native people during the Raj. And yes, Ackerley's sexual afinities also play a constant and subtle part as he comments continually on certain beautiful young boys he longs for. In fact, it seems his 'employer,' the Maharajah, is also gay, and invites Ackerley to private parties featuring enticing scantily clad dancing boys.

The truth is, however, there is little point to this book. Its journalistic content and style became simply tiresome eventually, so much so that I finally abandoned the book altogether about 2/3 of the way through. I still think that Ackerley was a fine writer. His MY DOG TULIP is a classic memoir, as is MY FATHER AND MYSELF, about his relationship with his father, a work that is both comical and heartbreaking. HINDOO HOLIDAY might be classified as a light entertainment, an anomaly in a small but fine literary legacy from a talented and tortured soul. ( )
  TimBazzett | Dec 18, 2012 |
This is the wry, urbane memoir of five months spent as personal companion to the Maharajah of one of India's Princely States in the early 1920s. I enjoyed it - Ackerley writes with curiosity and an eye for the ridiculous, and his affection for the Maharajah and his time in India is clear. A side theme is Ackerley's interactions with the Anglo-Indians and Brits, who harangue him for becoming too close to the Indians and advise him against all his efforts to learn about and experience Indian culture. I also liked the character of the Maharajah, an absolute ruler but one with authority only over the most insignificant things (the British Political Agent is handing out instructions on behalf of the Raj). ( )
1 vote wandering_star | Jul 12, 2010 |
An account of several months spent as the secretary of an Indian prince, in the 1920s. I liked his My Father and Me some years ago so I picked this up. His descriptions of the Prince and his fondness for beautiful young boys are amusing, and his wry observations of the people he meets are okay, but except for a few vivid descriptions of animals, it’s not terribly interesting. ( )
  piemouth | Apr 22, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0940322250, Paperback)

In the 1920s, the young J. R. Ackerley spent several months in India as the personal secretary to the maharajah of a small Indian principality. In his journals, Ackerley recorded the Maharajah's fantastically eccentric habits and riddling conversations, and the odd shambling day-to-day life of his court. Hindoo Holiday is an intimate and very funny account of an exceedingly strange place, and one of the masterpieces of twentieth-century travel literature.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:02 -0400)

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