Nehru: An Autobiographer

English Literature

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J.L. Nehru was a great politician. He had an inborn instinct for writing. The Glimpses of the World History, The Discovery of India and An Autobiography are his famous books. His autobiography entitled as An Autobiography is an outstanding piece of prose. It has immense literary value.

The writings of Nehru bear the imprint of a scholarly mind and sensitive heart. His writings are marked with a unique style. It is lucid, spontaneous and suggestive. It has poetic richness. Tom Wrightington is of the view that Indians can learn English not from Macaulay or Gibbon but from Nehru. Albert Einstein, R.N. Tagore and Narasimahaiah have praised Nehru’s mastery over English and his rhythmic style. In short, he is one of the greatest prose writers in the annals of Indian English Literature. His writings are as powerful as his personality.

Nehru’s autobiography is a milestone in the history of Indian Writing of English. It was written in a continuous spell of about nine months. When it appeared, it was acknowledged as a world classic. It was a very personal book. This personal history was fused with national history.

Nehru’s autobiography has been divided into various chapters. Among them the fourth chapter is very significant. Herein Nehru talks about his adolescence. This portion of this autobiography deals with 1905 to 1912. During this period Nehru spent his life in England as a student. At the age of fifteen Nehru left for England. In England he joined a school at Harrow. A major part of this chapter deals with Nehru’s experience as a school student. After finishing school education he proceeded to study natural sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge. In short, in the fourth chapter Nehru recounts his early education at Harrow and Cambridge.

When Nehru was leading a life of student, he was aware of the Indian liberation movement. He was preparing himself for struggle against imperialism. He actively participated in the political activities of the Indian student’s community. In London he was attracted by nationalism, socialism and liberation. On the ground of all these things Nehru played an important role in Indian freedom movement and became the first prime minister of India.

Nehru’s autobiography has great literary significance. It is not only the presentation of the life of an individual but it has the essence of sublime literature. It appears as the masterpiece in the realm of politics and literature. Especially the fourth chapter of this autobiography is like a lamp post for the young generation of India. Before Nehru, prose was not a powerful genre of Indo Anglican literature. There was hardly any standard prose in existence. Nehru enhanced the popularity of English prose in India. As an autobiographer Nehru earned wide acclaim. For this he is appreciated in the entire world.

 To conclude, Nehru’s An Autobiography is an excellent composition. It reveals the author’s mastery and control over English prose. It combines literature, history and science all together. Here words and  phrases, simile and metaphors etc. have been used wisely and appropriately.


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