Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 276
PN Review Substack

This review is taken from PN Review 73, Volume 16 Number 5, May - June 1990.

INDIAN LABYRINTHS Antonio Tabucchi, Indian Nocturne, translated by Tim Parks, Chatto & Windus, £10.95

India is where you go to find yourself; this fact, long known to readers of Hermann Hesse, is now a commonplace among western tourists. When asked his views about Hesse, the traveller of Indian Nocturne becomes evasive: his only reading matter is India, a Travel Survival Kit. A lot of people lose their way in India', he is told, 'it's a country specially made for that'. In this nocturnal India first glances can deceive: the façade of the Taj Mahal Inter-Continental Hotel belies the existence of crows who drop bits of human corpse into the water supply. The monkey playing with the boy in the bus station is in reality a deformed Jain prophet with the power to tell fortunes. That which is present is maya, the outward appearance of the world, which is mere illusion. The traveller is a somnambulist, absent from himself, present only in a dream. In a Hesse-style device, the duality of the self is given a fictional realisation in separate characters. The traveller is searching for his lost friend and alter ego, Xavier, following a set of vague clues and his own, already faded memory, retracing a journey which is his own journey, which is perhaps taking place for the first time. The clues to Xavier's whereabouts are therefore keys to potential identities: the people he encounters are all, like himself, pilgrims. The director of the Theosophical Society casts around in written knowledge, while the thief seems to give reality to her empty name ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image