Sumati Ramaswamy has written a brilliant book. It has a breathtaking sweep and a pace that is most unusual for a scholarly work. The book is about Lemuria – a lost place from a lost time. Human preoccupations with lost continents look back as well as forward. It is a search for Lemuria and the submerged continent of Atlantis. It is also about the wishful longing for a utopia where there is peace, prosperity and the flowering of the finest in human arts and aesthetics. The book is about ‘loss’ of something that never was. Sumati in fact begins the first chapter with ‘placing loss’ and loss making. Disenchantment is at the other end of the notion of loss –disenchantment with the present and a constant quest to fill the ‘lack’ in one’s existence. While references to the lost continent of Atlantis finds mention in the writings of Plato, reference to the lost continent of Lemuria seems to have figured for the first time in the western imagination in a brief essay on ‘The Mammals of Madagascar’ in The Quarterly Journal of Science published in the year 1864.
March 2006, volume 30, No 3