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Ved Mehta

Up at Oxford

'Up at Oxford' is Ved Mehta's account of his time as an undergraduate at the university. When he was growing up in India, it was his great ambition to study there. Thus when he actually arrived as a new student he was rather overawed by the reputation of the place, and was constantly struggling to live up to what he feels was expected of him. On the other hand he had already completed a degree and what is more had had a book published. Hence this work gives a fascinating account of his life in an elite society, while being beset by doubts about whether it is where he 'really' belongs.

As a blind student, Mehta had problems that which other students didn't have to face. However when reading this book, one doesn't notice his blindness as making him somehow 'different' from his colleagues, rather the problems he had seem to be rather artificial, brought on by a society which doesn't think things through properly.

The book was published in 1991, and looking back from that time one sees the late 1950's as being the end of an era for Oxford. No longer was it to be a place which would take students (often from boarding schools) and prepare them for their place in running the Empire.

The book also follows through on the later careers of some of Mehta's undergraduate friends. Some of them achieved the great things expected of them, while the lives of others seemed to fall apart, some even ending in suicide.