Gentleman Poets in Colonial Bengal

Gentleman Poets in Colonial Bengal

Product ID: 9455

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Author: Rosinka Chaudhuri
Publisher: Seagull Books
Year: 2002
Language: English
Pages: 213
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8170461855


This work asserts that it is time now to listen to what the Orient made of its interaction with the West, and to lend an ear to what the colonized said.

Extensive historical research and a dedtaile3d examination of the English poetry written in the social, historical and political contexts, reveals the engagement of the3 colonized with one of the implements of colonization, the English language. This study shows how the intertextuality that existed between this body of verse and concurrent Orientalist scholarship on the ancient Indian heritage results, ultimately, in a complex appropriation, by the Indians, of British scholarship on India for nationalist, literary, social and personal ends. An examination of this hitherto 'invisible' tradition of Indian poetry in English raises crucial issues, such as its anticipation of the formation of the modern 'Indian' identity.

A thorough examination of the correlation between the poetry and its background uncovers certain startling differences between current perceptions of colonial relations and actual historical records. For example, the common belief that English education was imposed upon the colonized is reversed through an examination of the Indians' own initiatives in this filed long be3fore the missionaries or Macaulay's famous minute. Similarly, the claim that all English education in India was a vehicle for the Christianizing of natives is refuted through the personal reminiscences of David Hare, the eminent educationist, who opposed it vehemently.

The author examines works by Henry Derozio, Kasiprasad Ghosh, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, The Dutt family, and, in conclusion, the poems of Toru Dutt and Tagore.

Refuting a simple equation of the exploitation of knowledge as power between the colonizer and the colonized, the author argues for a more nuanced approach, positing that the complexities of the situation meant also an active appropriation of Orientalist scho9larship by Indians for their own ends: they tended to take just 'that which they found good and liked best'. This would grant an agency to the colonial Indian subject which has so far gone unrecognized, and place a whole body of colonial verse in the situational flux of interchange and assimilation.

This work asserts that it is time now to listen to what the Orient made of its interaction with the West, and to lend an ear to what the colonized said.



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