Ralph Russell

Marion Molteno edits the second volume of the autobiography of Ralph Russell, Marxist and celebrated Urdu scholar. Published by Three Essays Collective, the book is titled LOSSES GAINS: The Autobiography of Ralph Russell. The Middle Years: 1945-1958 and offers a fascinating insight into some of the major 20th century events which have shaped our world today.

Ralph Russell (1918-2008) is best known as one of the foremost western scholars of Urdu literature. For over fifty years his teaching, translations and writings have made this rich literature accessible to readers with no knowledge of the language, and earned him a high reputation among fellow Urdu scholars. For thirty years at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and afterwards in Asian communities in British cities, he pioneered the teaching of Urdu as a means of bringing closer understanding between people and bridging cultural divisions. His honesty, humour and unusual insight have won him a unique place in the affections of lovers of Urdu worldwide. He belonged to that extraordinary and celebrated generation of British scholars who became Marxists at Oxford and Cambridge in the 1930s and became an influence on the intellectual life of the twentieth century. He shares the company of, amongst others: Eric Hobsbawm, EP Thompson, Rodney Hilton, Christopher Hill, Victor Kiernan and Joseph Needham. Part 1 of his autobiography, 'Findings Keepings' (1918–1946), gave a refreshing personal account of three decades and a world war, seen through the eyes of a child, boy and young man of warm affections and high ideals. Part 2, 'Losses Gains' (1945-1958), continues the story of his life from his return from the war in India, to 1958. It traces his progress from demobbed soldier to student, teacher and scholar of Urdu, while it charts his growth in political maturity, following the traumatic effects of his realisation of the betrayal of communist values by the party leadership. A fascinating insight into a period of complex social and political change.

In our Biography section, in paperback, Rs 500. ISBN: 9788188789290

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