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...Some villagers are gathered under a tree, just outside Delhi. They have a book with them. Or do they have books? Word reaches a young man named Anund Messeh, a Christian convert, recently baptized. He rushes to the tree and is astonished to find that the books are copies of the New Testament. He engages the villagers in a conversation about baptism and sacrament. He then reports to his superiors and there is much excitement in missionary circles about this seemingly miraculous encounter. Then, gradually, holes begin to appear in Messeh’s overenthusiastic narrative. But that’s another story. More From Livemint » How did the books get there? We turn the pages of history. It is now April 1814. An Ardh Kumbh Mela is taking place in Haridwar. Among the millions camped in the temple town for the fortnight is a Protestant missionary named John Chamberlain, who is giving away books. ...Live Mint on July 1, 2017, 8:05 a.m.
...The Calcutta School-Book Society was set up in direct response to this need in 1817, but with one crucial difference from the missionary curricula: It would be “no part of its design…to furnish religious books”. In other words, the CSBS proposed a modern, secular pedagogy, perhaps the first of its kind in the world. Predictably, the CSBS’ first publications were in the field of arithmetic, geography and astronomy. But of all its early productions, perhaps the most engaging was a series titled Pashwabali or Animal Biography, which debuted in 1822. Each number would be a slim volume on an animal, fronted by an illustration of the said animal. This sounds unremarkable, but the first-ever illustrated book in Bengali, an edition of Annada Mangal, had been published only six years earlier, in 1816. ...Live Mint on Jan. 20, 2017, 6 p.m.
...From them I learnt the Greek alphabet, cricket field-placements as well as Latin tags that probably went out of use at the time of the silent movies. On the plus side, you knew exactly what Jeeves meant when he said rem acu tetigisti with patrician hauteur. Our household copy of A.T. Dev, which came in red board binding with black lettering, has long gone the way of all pulp. The edition that currently features on DSK’s website is in a somewhat more sporty red and white and proclaims itself, with no sense of false modesty, as the “foremost dictionary of current English to Bengali. Thoroughly revised, illustrated and expanded. 40,000 entries. Over 3,000 new in this edition”. ...Live Mint on Nov. 23, 2016, 3:43 p.m.
...There were photographs, letters, memoirs, hunting records and a hitherto undiscovered translation of the Mahabharat.And somewhere among the miles and miles of shelves sat a slim volume bound in black, in the hand of the Rev.James Long, who has appeared earlier in this column as the unlikely hero of the indigo disturbances of the 1860s.In the 1850s, before he had begun to interest himself in the indigo question, Long had begun to carry out a systematic census of the Bengali book trade.From the middle of the decade, he began to publish the lists.The crown of his achievement was A Descriptive Catalogue Of Bengali Works, an exhaustive list of “fourteen hundred books and pamphlets” which “have issued from the press in the last sixty years”. ...Live Mint on Sept. 23, 2016, 11:08 a.m.