#OddTom - The Indian Travails Of Thomas Coryate
By Jonathan Gil Harris
Thomas Coryate (1579-1617) was an eccentric English scholar and traveler who walked on foot to India in the 1610s. Known to his friends as “Odd Tom,” he was unlike other English visitors to India at this time. Possessed of an unapologetically theatrical personality as well as an appetite for learning local languages and customs, he kept creating “scenes” wherever he went, conducting a public theological argument in Italian in Multan, delivering a Persian oration to Jahangir in Ajmer, and improvising an Arabic counter-kalima from the minar of a masjid in Agra. He died of dysentery in Surat in 1617. At our Online Talk #OddTom, teacher and author Jonathan Gil Harris recreates Coryate’s fantastic Indian journey and gives a sense of what Coryate termed his “travails” — a word that variously meant “travels,” “struggles,” and “work.”
Please note: The event link will be shared a couple of hours before the talk
About the speaker
Jonathan Gil Harris comes from long lines of migrants on both sides of family. Born in New Zealand, educated in England, and resident in the US for many years, he now makes his home in Delhi. He is the author of ten books, including the best-selling The First Firangis (Aleph Books, 2015) and Masala Shakespeare (Aleph Books, 2018). The founding Dean of Ashoka University, Harris now teaches in the English department there in addition to writing his latest book, The Jewish Silk Road: Secrets of My Mother’s Chinese Tea-Chest.