the winter and travel East!
as a land of both intense beauty and heartbreaking poverty, an
earthly paradise that Westerners have been flocking to for
centuries in search of both material and spiritual wealth.
This is the India that Ruth Prawer Jhabvala describes with a
precise lyricism in her Booker Prize-winning 1975 novel, Heat
and Dust. A land of extremes, of heightened passions,
that welcomes foreigners with open arms but which can also destroy
them, as the narrator warns, if they are caught off-guard.
novel tells the story of the Olivia, a Colonial Englishwoman in
India, and her amorous transformation and the sometimes subtle and
fascinating intrigues that accompany her metamorphosis. It
is the 1920's and Olivia slowly grows bored with her attractive
but ordinary husband Douglas and the suffocatingly provincial town
they have been stationed in. A growing attraction for India
and the seductive, dangerous Nawab leads to her shocking elopement
with the Indian prince. Her step-granddaughter, intrigued by
the letters Olivia left behind, follows in her footsteps some
fifty years later, and the novel is her attempt to unlock the
mysteries of the old scandal.
are on Olivia's side from the very beginning: her husband is
emotionally cold, unable to grasp the subtleties, and seems
unwilling, as E.M. Forster counseled, to 'only connect.' The
idea of leaving one's culture to complete one's education or to
discover one's true self is an old theme. The novel as a
form of Grand Tour - the educational journey of discovery
through France and Italy that wealthy young British men took to
immerse themselves in art and culture, the very foundations of
Western culture; Forster himself took the idea to marvelous
extreme in A Room with a View.
novel champions the emancipation of both the individual and her
innermost desires. Olivia finds in India a country that
though complicated and contradictory, sets her free. Once
she has found her heart's calling, she does not hesitate to
act. Olivia never returns to England.
wrote many of the screenplays for the films of Merchant &
Ivory, including an adaptation of Heat and Dust as well as
the award-winning A Room with a View.
and Dust, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Room with a View