What We Are Reading Today: Empress – The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan

Updated 11 August 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Empress – The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan

Acclaimed historian Ruby Lal has written a brilliant and compelling biography of Nur Jahan.
In 1611, 34-year-old Nur Jahan became the 20th and most cherished wife of the Emperor Jahangir.
The author uncovers the rich life and world of Nur Jahan, rescuing this dazzling figure from patriarchal cliches of romance and intrigue, and giving new insight into the lives of women and girls in the Mughal Empire.
In Empress, Nur finally receives her due in a deeply researched and evocative biography that awakens readers to a fascinating history.
“Lal has done a service to readers interested in the Mughal period and the many forgotten or poorly remembered women of Indian history. She has helped shine a little light on an enigmatic character many think they know but few actually understand,” Vikas Bajaj writes in a review published in the New York Times.
“Lal is clearly constrained by the paucity of the material she has to work with. But she seems too reluctant to draw inferences and make analytical deductions,” the review added.


What We Are Reading Today: Collecting - An Unruly Passion

Updated 14 December 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Collecting - An Unruly Passion

Author: Werner Muensterberger

From rare books, valuable sculptures and paintings, the relics of saints, and porcelain and other precious items, through stamps, textiles, military ribbons, and shells, to baseball cards, teddy bears, and mugs, an amazing variety of objects have engaged and even obsessed collectors through the ages.
With this captivating book the psychoanalyst Werner Muensterberger provides the first extensive psychological examination of the emotional sources of the never-ending longing for yet another collectible. Muensterberger’s roster of driven acquisition-hunters includes the dedicated, the serious, and the infatuated, whose chronic restlessness can be curbed— and then merely temporarily — only by purchasing, discovering, receiving, or even stealing a new “find.” In an easy, conversational style, the author discusses the eccentricities of heads of state, literary figures, artists, and psychoanalytic patients, all possessed by a need for magic relief from despair and helplessness — and for the self-healing implied in the phrase “I can’t live without it!”
The central part of the work explores in detail the personal circumstances and life history of three individuals: a contemporary collector, Martin G; the celebrated British book and manuscript collector Sir Thomas Phillipps and the great French novelist Honoré de Balzac, a compulsive collector of bric-a-brac who expressed his empathy for the acquisitive passions of his collector protagonist in Cousin Pons.