Lord Curzon: the Last of the British Moghuls by Nayana Goradia. Delhi: Oxford University Press 1993.
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Sina M. Mossayeb: Book Review Lord Curzon: the Last of the British Moghuls by Nayana Goradia. Delhi: Oxford University Press 1993. Goradia's Lord Curzon: the Last of the British Moghuls is a monograph charged with blemished historiography. Her image of the British monarchy, the formative years of Curzon's life, and finally his role as Viceroy appear in a variety of ways. Cumulatively the book is garbled in a maze of inter-disciplinary surveys. She addresses his childhood and adolescence in psycho-analytical terms and interpretative arguments, while diving into his encounters with homosexual-oriented masters at Eton. Goradia's historical analysis of Lord Curzon as viceroy is hardly detached from any sentiment she may espouse toward his role in India. Her political analysis of Curzon's rule and diplomatic relations does not introduce sufficient proof for any argument. Nevertheless, her narrative style of writing renders the book a fancy read, but fails to hold the integrity of academic literature. Her posed words, filled with value judgments, acquit the book of any unbiased merit. In the first two chapters, Goradia's provision for adequate introductory background of Curzon is surpassed by creating a stereotypical paradigm of British self-exaltation and pomp.
While the gloss of Curzon's association with homosexual-like teachers follows the study of his life, the chapter inherently lacks coherence with the rest of the material presented in the book. Her psycho-analytical survey of his childhood perhaps falls under creative license, but her presentation of Curzon's "sexual" relationship seems altogether out-of-place. Although she manages to include the latter chapter into a Book about Curzon's duration in India, Goradia finally enters the Indian era of Curzon's life, and dives into the various aspects of his involvement as Viceroy. Throughout the book, the author pays tribute to praiseworthy attributes manifested by Curzon in his life. In fact, she often overlooks his eccentric personality and redirects major flaws to external factors such as his parents, his wife, or his admiring teachers. The Viceroy and his wife were welcomed in a lavish British ceremonial reception upon arriving in India. According to Goradia, "Being treated like a ruling sovereign made Curzon almost believe he was one."4 Curzon's self-image lent itself to a superiority complex. Although approaching various princes of India will a message of equality, his tone and speech were often condesending.
Once again, she redirects blame to an external agent. She meagerly deals with Curzon's double-standard of praising Muslim unity after the partition and his disregard for the minority prior to the division. In retrospect, although Goradia's Lord Curzon: the Last of the British Moghuls is a fascinating read in terms of a historical novel, it lacks any real coherence and cohesiveness. The monograph of this British noble is spotted with multiple themes, all of which seem incomplete or slanted. Overall she introduces the reader to a personal Curzon, and only touches upon some of the real controversial issues dealing with this politicized figure-considerably the downfall of the British Mughuls. Paradoxically his aim was to create an unprecedented British rule over India, but was left to fulfill his own forgotten words: I sometimes wonder whether 100 years hence we shall still be ruling India. There is slowly growing up a sort of a national feeling. As such it can never be wholly reconciled to an alien government... I believe a succession of two weak and rash viceroys could bring the whole machine toppling down.7 1 Goradia, p. 21 2 Ibid., p. 34 3 Ibid., p 59-60 4 Ibid., p.149 5 Ibid., p.157 6 Ibid., p.210 7 Ibid., p. 218
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