Those were the days

"Andre Béteille, one of India's leading sociologists and writers, is particularly well known for his studies of the caste system in South India. What is perhaps not much known is that he started writing about his early life some years ago and indeed, four of these pieces - about his two grandmothers, childhood in Chandernagore, and then schooling in Calcutta (now Kolkata) - have been published. Few academics of his stature have written about their early lives-and yet there are many stories and anecdotes waiting to be told."

Remembered Childhood is a collection "of writings on childhood and school days - subjects close to André Béteille - is a special offering by a few of his friends, colleagues, and admirers to mark his seventy-fifth birthday. The volume, focusing on 'remembered childhood', includes twelve essays by leading sociologists, anthropologists, historians, and literary figures: Alan Macfarlane, Aparna Basu, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Gurcharan Das, Jan Breman, Malavika Karlekar, Pradip Kumar Bose, Susan Visvanathan, Rudrangshu Mukherjee, Tapan Ray Chaudhuri, T.N. Madan, and Veena Das. Rich in detail and feeling, these real-life stories, told in different styles and registers, can be read at many levels: at one level, they are entertaining, pleasing, and even amusing; at another, they provide insights into varied childhoods from men and women today aged between the mid-fifties and early eighties. Each essay is also accompanied by 3-4 photographs enhancing the visual appeal of the book. The volume also includes an introduction by [the editors] Malavika Karlekar and Rudrangshu Mukherjee."

This book, just released last week, is in our Biography and Sociology sections. In hardcover, 236 pages, Rs. 650. ISBN: 9780198064350

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