Thursday, August 18, 2011

‘Akbar was master of his emotions’

“Fictional autobiography is arguably the most challenging, certainly the most ambitious, but in my opinion, definitely the most authentic genre in historical fiction,” says Belgian writer Dirk Collier, author of the enchanting The Emperor’s Writings, a fictionalised biography of the greatest of Mughal emperors, Akbar.
“Such a noble endeavour will always be, to a certain extent at least, doomed to failure. Complete self-effacement is impossible; the author’s character and personal experience will inevitably influence his or her perception of the facts at hand. Historical fiction can, of course, never replace history, but it attempts to contribute to historical understanding: It aspires to bring history back to life, and in this attempt, it starts where real history leaves off,” says Collier, in an email interview.Excerpts from the interview:

How difficult was it to get the voice of (or, as you mention in the book, reading into the mind of) Akbar right in this fictionalised biography that relies heavily on facts? Did you want this one to be an authentic account of Akbar’s life even though it’s a work of fiction?
I wanted to empathise with Emperor Akbar; I wanted to portray, as faithfully as possible, the kind of man he was and wanted to be (which, incidentally, is a quite important distinction, in every person’s life); I wanted to read into his mind, describe his feelings, the things he wanted for himself and “his” Hindustan, his joys, regrets, hopes and disappointments. Did I succeed in this ambitious goal? I guess only Akbar himself has the right to corroborate this, but as pretentious as it may sound, and as incomplete as any book necessarily will be: I am confident that he would have been quite pleased with The Emperor’s Writings.

Full interview here Asian Age

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