978-0-374-23452-2 / 9780374234522

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About the book:

Neville Cardus suspected that K.S. Ranjitsinhji, the legendary Indian prince who played cricket for Sussex and MCC at the turn of the century, was 'perhaps a dream, all dreamed on some midsummer's night long ago'. Studded with imagined events fashioned from known facts, Playing the Game is Ian Buruma's absorbing and richly entertaining re-invention of Ranji's life - a novel imagining itself a biography. It reveals a man, confused and desperate to find an identity for himself - an adopted English gentleman, an adopted Indian prince - sometimes both, in the end, probably neither. He died in 1933, his balding pet parrot at his side. Playing the Game is about Englishness, cultural identity, impersonation and pretending, a book about real people, imagined people, and those who don't know the difference. Leisurely, philosophical, exotic, crammed with wickedly entertaining cameos (W. G. Grace, Gandhi, Disraeli, Wilde), littered with heroic cricketing feats (one of them in drag), grand balls in the Indian Desert, and even an audience with Hitler, Playing the Game is about Playing Games, about dandyism, a Flaubert's Parrot of a novel that is a brilliant dandy joke in itself.

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