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Delhiwale: Doctor Faustus in Teen Murti

At the Nehru Memorial Museum you can spend hours looking at the first PM’s vast personal collection of books

delhi Updated: Jul 17, 2017 11:03 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Millions of people have visited the Nehru Memorial Museum at Teen Murti House, the Central Delhi residence where Nehru spent 16 years as Prime Minister.
Millions of people have visited the Nehru Memorial Museum at Teen Murti House, the Central Delhi residence where Nehru spent 16 years as Prime Minister.(Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Delhi)

Hundreds of books have been written on India’s first prime minister. We ask you to go and check the books that Jawaharlal Nehru kept in his home.

Millions of people have visited the Nehru Memorial Museum at Teen Murti House, the Central Delhi residence where Nehru spent 16 years as Prime Minister. Only a few have surveyed a corridor that runs past his private rooms. This gallery is lined with hundreds of books Nehru acquired over the years. A random glance helps bring the man closer to us.

We are thrilled to spot Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus, a celebrated novel on classical music. Salim Ali’s Indian Hill Birds lies close to Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Nine Plays by Eugene O’Neill stands beside Alan Payton’s great South African novel Cry, The Beloved Country. Also spotted: Rachael Carson’s Silent Spring, a classic on environment writing. We are struck by another title: The Gay Genius.

Nehru’s books lie in other parts of Teen Murti, too. In his study we see Nabokov’s Lolita and suddenly the historic figure seems just like a friend with whom we could exchange books every now and then.