Charles Allen

Playboy Prince

The Last Maharaja: A Biography of Sawai Man Singh II, Maharaja of Jaipur

By

Michael Joseph 258pp £12.95 order from our bookshop

The news that Sawai Man Singh II, ruler of Jaipur from 1921 until the merger of his state into Rajasthan in 1949, was The Last Maharaja will come as a surprise to the 500 or so Maharajas, Rajas, Nawabs and Raos still ekeing out a quasi-princely existence in India and Pakistan today. If by Last Maharaja Quentin Crewe wishes us to consider his subject in some way remarkable – as the last of his kind or as a beau ideal among princes or even on the strength of his personality – then his efforts are misplaced. If, on the other hand, this is intended to be a portrait of a certain type of Indian prince – a signal example of one of the many who lost their way in the inter-war years, unable to choose between the demands of feudal tradition and the twentieth century – then it has to be said that The Last Maharaja is altogether too comfortable in its assumptions to make for easy reading.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Volume five, then, but still no end in sight. Sandbrook is clearly enjoying himself so much he can’t bear the seri… ,
    • 'By the end of the book something so weighty, stylish and impressive has been built up that one feels far nearer to… ,
    • 'Her ensuing psychotic episode is described so convincingly ... that the reader will wonder if Dobrakovová did not… ,
    • 'The perspectives complement and contest one another, amounting to a glorious, atmospheric set of ventriloquisms.'… ,
    • RT : I reviewed The Testaments for . I will not be taking any questions at this time. ,
    • 'The Testaments is, first and foremost, a manual of resistance ... a type of resistance that is organised, articula… ,
    • 'I did occasionally wonder whether Rupert Murdoch ... might have instructed his editors at William Collins to produ… ,