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Jim Corbett's books are mostly autobiographical, My India particularly so. It describes several incidents across Corbett's life in India. One of the most moving ones is from Corbett's time as a Railway contractor on the shores of the Ganges.

There had been some delay in payments, and Corbett was nearly bankrupt. His foreman came to speak to him, and met his servant going to serve him lunch. They asked him what his lunch consisted of, and the answer was, if my memory is correct, a single roti and some dal. The austerity impressed his foremen, and they, after waiting for him to finish his meal, promised him to continue working, but pleaded for some solution. Of course, the payments came soon after.

The story as written by Corbett is powerful. However, I wonder: is Corbett a reliable narrator? Have other, contradictory, accounts of the events in his book come out? Specifically, I'm most interested in the aforementioned event, but a general account of his accuracy would be good.

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  • I initially read that as "Jim Cornette" and I got a very different idea of the narrative... – Sean Duggan Mar 7 '17 at 16:02
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At the very least, some people have doubts (bold emphasis mine):

Rajarshi Mitra’s essay on Jim Corbett’s My India titled “Dear Native Sahib: India in Jim Corbett’s Autobiographical Writings” is a surprise entry in this anthology of critical essays on Indian Fiction in English. One might wonder how an autobiographical writing may fit into the schema of fiction. However, a closer reading would reveal an insightful critique of the autobiographical elements in Jim Corbett’s My India. An autobiographical account may naturally raise the expectation of credibility. But Mitra detects several fissures in Corbett’s representation of India, particularly during those moments when he bids farewell to the country in which he lived, breathed and wrote. A fondness of spirit coloured by nostalgia for the land makes Corbett’s My India too sweet and too nice, where “even the rogue Sultana is portrayed as a benevolent dacoit helping out the poor in need.” “The marked sense of sexual and political innocence that might at times seem too contrived” makes Jim Corbett’s My India fictional. Corbett’s convenient and quiet espousal of the colonizer’s anxiety leaves several political questions answered, which Mitra attempts to address in this essay. While Corbett chooses Kenya as his future home, we see the East-West encounter from the other side of the colonizer’s gaze.

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