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Houlton's Bihar, The Heart of India

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Kameshwar Singh Bihar Heritage Series-21
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Item Code: HAO684
Author: Vishwa Mohan Jha
Publisher: Kameshwar Singh Darbhanga Sanskrit University, Bihar
Language: English
Edition: 2016
ISBN: 9789383647033
Other Details 10x7 inch
Weight 677 gm
Book Description

John Wardle Houlton joined Indian Civil Service in 1920 and, subsequently, held important positions of authority in Bihar till 1948 when he retired. In the course of pursuing his official career, it seems, he developed much interest in the history and geography of Bihar and worked hard to write. Bihar, the Heart of India. It throws significant light on the socio-historical mosaic that he considered characterizing Bihar to a great extent around the mid-twentieth century. The book, however, seems to have been out of print for the last few decades. It appears to be rather quite difficult now for scholars working on Bihar to have access to this valuable source of history.


The reasons for bringing out a new edition of J.W. Houlton's Bihar, the Heart of India are simple. The work retains its value as an extremely readable, compact, and warm-hearted introduction to Bihar and Jharkhand. The original work however needed a bit of editing as it suffered from a few technical blemishes requiring removal, hence a new imprint.

By the time Houlton finalised his book for publication, the heart metaphor had established itself to denote two different types of books. It was used in the title of any number of travel accounts which were also meant to be guide- books for future travellers, at all events general introductions to the curious. There was thus the two-volume, lavishly illustrated, Through the Heart of Asia, over the Pamir to India (1889) by Gabriel Bonvalot, or Captain Frank Younghusband's The Heart of a Continent: A Narrative of Tales in Manchuria, across the Gobi Desert, through the Himalayas, the Pamirs, and Chitral, 1884-1894 (1896); in less remote times we have the many works of Duncan Forbes (The Heart of India, The Heart of Iran, etc.) in this category. The imagery often denoted the geographical centrality of the theme as well in such books. Second, the metaphor was used in the titles of books also to denote what the author considered the core or the most important aspects of a subject; this necessarily varied with the author. So when L.D. Barnett wrote for the 'Wisdom of the East' series The Heart of India (1908), what he meant was thus indicated in the book's subtitle: sketches in the history of Hindu religion and morals. The journalist Mark Tully meant something radically different by the same title for his collection of stories in contemporary India.

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