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Quest was a quarterly and bi-monthly journal published between 1954 and 1975. Quest, edited by Nissim Ezekiel and Dilip Chitre, covered a range of idealogical positions and was committed to open and liberal thought. There are even rumours that the magazine was a CIA plot to fight against the Soviet influence in India.

The magazine had carried original poetry by Jayanta Mahapatra and Dom Moraes. A young sociologist, Ashis Nandy, had had some early essays published here. Film-maker Satyajit Ray’s illustrations appeared alongside a piece called Konarak by Marie Seton, later Ray’s biographer.

“It had disappeared off the map," Prabhala, a writer and researcher, says. “There are no archives to look up—this collection existed in my parents’ home."


In the pages of this book, you will be reminded that Quest was an ideologically free-wheeling enterprise; in certain quarters of the Internet, you will be told that the magazine was a CIA plot. (To be fair, the Indian journal that leads this charge also dismisses the entire canon of modern art as CIA strategy to deflect the masses from "social concerns.” To be fair to the publisher of that journal, the Research Unit for Political Economy or RUPE, there is a wonderful logic to both these charges.) The truth is that Quest was all this and more: it lived and thrived in a milieu constituted by Encounter in the USA and UK, Quadrant in Australia, Transition in Africa, even Imprint in India. Those interested in this milieu will enjoy Peter Coleman’s

‘D’ was witty, acerbic, irreverent, bright, insightful - he wrote about movies and art and books and life. It was no surprise, actually, when Dilip confessed to being ‘D’

that last essay: “Now the column is dead and my pseudonym will hardly ring a bell. Few readers of the current age would care to dig through the archived coffins in the expired journal’s graveyard to find ‘D’. But I know it’s me - of another time and season - grinning back at my present self, an older wiser and infinitely more boring self.”

The Best of Quest, edited by Achal Prabhala, Laeeq Futehally and Arshia Sattar, Publisher Tranquebar, India, 2011.