(Published in The New Indian Express, July 08 2019)
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The characters in ‘The Courtesan, The Mahatma and the Italian Brahmin’ create an impact on the reader’s understanding of history. Author Manu S Pillai’s third book goes beyond plain narrative in black and white as he presents the characters as humans, replete with positive and negative qualities.
The book was launched at the Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum on Saturday. “Some of the characters such as Padmavati may not be real. But it is the legend that matters,” he said. According to Manu, the book tells a great deal about the cultural confidence the characters hold. He also spoke about how some characters such as Shakunthala were influenced by Christian morality under colonial historians. However, he said the British did play a role in enriching history.
“Shakunthala’s character lost some of its sensuality when she was introduced by William Jones. But it was through Jones’ Asiatic Society that we came to know about Ashoka,” said Manu. The author has also some counter questions on how history would have been, had circumstances been different. The 29-year-old has authored two other books – ‘Ivory Throne’ and ‘Rebel Sultans’.