The Root and the Flower by L.H. Myers
(New York Review Books Classics)

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Synopsis

Set in the war-torn world of Mughal India and first published in the gathering darkness of the 1930s, The Root and the Flower is an epic story of intrigue, murder, and romance; of Tantric abandonment and Buddhist renunciation; of emotional delirium and spiritual adventure.
The cast of characters includes Hari, a reckless and passionate warrior; Sita, in love with both Hari and her husband Amar, a prince who wishes to forsake the world but is increasingly drawn into a bloody political struggle; and Sita and Amar’s son Jali, whose precocious encounters with sex and violence threaten him with madness.

At once a dream of India and a vision of a world riven by political, ethnic, and religious conflicts, The Root and the Flower is a work of great range and singular poetic beauty. It is, in Penelope Fitzgerald’s words, a “strange masterpiece,” and one of the unsung glories of modern literature.
 

About L.H. Myers

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Penelope Fitzgerald wrote many books small in size but enormous in popular and critical acclaim over the past two decades. Over 300,000 copies of her novels are in print, and profiles of her life appeared in both The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. In 1979, her novel OFFSHORE won Britain's Booker Prize, and in 1998 she won the National Book Critics Circle Prize for THE BLUE FLOWER. Though Fitzgerald embarked on her literary career when she was in her 60's, her career was praised as "the best argument.. for a publishing debut made late in life" (New York Times Book Review). She told the New York Times Magazine, "In all that time, I could have written books and I didn't. I think you can write at any time of your life." Dinitia Smith, in her New York Times Obituary of May 3, 2000, quoted Penelope Fitzgerald from 1998 as saying, "I have remained true to my deepest convictions, I mean to the courage of those who are born to be defeated, the weaknesses of the strong, and the tragedy of misunderstandings and missed opportunities, which I have done my best to treat as comedy, for otherwise how can we manage to bear it?
 
Published August 31, 2011 by NYRB Classics. 658 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, War, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Published as three separate novels in the ’30s, Myers's trilogy was first brought together under one cover in England in 1985, along with a superb preface by the late Penelope Fitzgerald celebrating this "strange masterpiece."

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Publishers Weekly

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Set in a dreamlike version of Moghal India, it follows the adventures of a prince, his wife and their son Jali, each struggling separately with temptation and spiritual malaise.

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London Review of Books

At the extreme of evil represented by Daniyal – the worst of several degrees of ‘wickedness’ that Gokal defines – goodness is accurately perceived and deeply hated: ‘what the wicked man desires is this: that the gentle and the innocent, the kindly and the wise – all those to whom goodness is dear...

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The New York Review of Books

His philosophy, if it can be called so, or his sense of religious awe, seeps into the emotional life of his characters unawares…it puts this book far above those of his contemporaries….For that matter we can scarcely think of a more valuable book, and fortunately enough, a more readable book.

Mar 31 2001 | Read Full Review of The Root and the Flower (New ...

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