Amartya Sen truly at home to the world as her memoir reveals

This is a memoir of an extraordinary life in India and England, and of the intellectual growth of one of the world’s leading public intellectuals.

Where is the house’? For Amartya Sen (87) home has been many places – Dhaka in present-day Bangladesh where he grew up, Santiniketan where he was raised by his grandparents as well as his parents, Calcutta (now Kolkata) where he first studied economics and was active in the student movements, and Trinity College, Cambridge, which he entered at age 19.

In “Home in the World”, to be published by Penguin on July 8, Sen, Nobel laureate in economics in 1998, brilliantly reproduces the atmosphere of each of them. At the center of his training was the intellectually liberating school of Santiniketan founded by Rabindranath Tagore (who gave him his name Amartya) and tantalizing conversations in the famous Coffee House on College Street in Calcutta. As an undergraduate student at Cambridge, he engaged with many personalities of the time.

It’s a book of ideas – especially Marx, Keynes and Arrow – so many people and places.

In a memorable chapter, Sen recalls “the rivers of Bengal” along which he traveled with his parents between Dhaka and their ancestral villages. The historical culture of Bengal is wonderfully explored, as is the political influx of Hindu-Muslim hostility and resistance to it. In 1943, Sen witnessed the famine in Bengal and its disastrous development.

Some of Sen’s family have been jailed for their opposition to British rule: The relationship between Britain and India is another main theme of the book. Forty-five years after arriving at the Trinity Gates, one of Britain’s greatest intellectual foundations, Sen has become his teacher.

The distinctions easily rest on Sen.

“The poor and dispossessed of the world could not have a more articulate or insightful champion,” said former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

“With his masterful prose, erudite ease and wry humor, Sen is one of the few great intellectuals in the world we can count on to make sense of our existential confusion,” said the late South African writer. , political activist and winner of the 1991 Prize. Nobel Prize for Literature, Nadine Gordimer.

“One of the great minds of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We owe him a huge debt, ”said British economist and scholar Nicholas Stern, Baron Stern of Brentford.

“A distinguished heir to the tradition of public philosophy and reasoning – Roy, Tagore, Gandhi, Nehru… if there ever was a global intellectual, it is Sen,” said Sunil Khilnani, professor of politics and politics. history at Ashoka University, previously professor. politician and director of the King’s College India Institute and author of “The Idea of ​​India” (1997).

“Amartya Sen is one of the most distinguished minds of our time (who) happily mixes moments of depth with flashes of mischievous provocation,” said Scottish historian and writer, art historian and curator William Dalrymple, whose “The Company Quartet” on the East India Company saga has evolved over two decades of research.

Amartya Sen is professor of economics and professor of philosophy at Harvard. He was a master of Trinity College, Cambridge from 1998 to 2004. His many famous books, including “Development as Freedom” (1999), “The Argumentative Indian” (2005), “Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny” (2007 ), and “The Idea of ​​Justice” (2010), have been translated into more than 40 languages. In 2012 he received the National Humanities Medal from US President Barack Obama and in 2020 the German Book Trade Peace Prize from President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.


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