In an Antique Land Essay

Decent Essays
In Amitav Ghosh's, "In an Antique Land", the author compares his life with that of a slave named Bomma. He reveals that both men live in antique lands, foreign to their culture and surrounded by very different people. Ghosh also relates the book to Percy Bysshe Shelly's poem Ozymandias, a piece on mankind's hubris and the insignificance of the individual. Ghosh effectively juxtaposes Bomma's life with his own as he tries to find himself and unlock the slaves past through the ancient papers of the Cairo Geniza. Through historical details and antidotes, the author proves how a place can be both antique and contemporary. The title of the book comes from not only Ghosh's study of the history of the Middle East, but his observation on…show more content…
His religion is a constant reminder of how he is an outcast yet he is also judging the culture he feels is criticizing him. He sees them as outdated and disapproving while they see him as unusual and mysterious. He is criticized for his religion and customs, and the children mock him in disbelief for being Hindu. One little boy comments on his amazement with this foreign culture:
"You mean," he said in rising disbelief, "there are people in your country who are not circumcised?"
In Arabic the word "circumcise" derives from a root that means
"to purify"; to say of someone that they are "uncircumcised" is more or less to call them impure.
"Yes," I answered, "yes, many people in my country are
‘impure'." I had no alternative; I was trapped by language." (62)

This is just one example of how Ghosh is treated as an outcast in the small town of no one of the small religion. He does not fully understand the language or culture that surrounds him, which causes even further confusion among the parties. This relates back to Shelly's poem because both the visitor and the "ancient" are being observed and criticized.
While Ghosh realizes that the town will never respect why he worships cows or burns the dead, he desperately tries to analyze the town he lives in. As he buries his head in letters from Ben Yiju, he slowly puts together the relationship between
Get Access