A Various Universe (A Study of the Journals and Memoirs of British Men and Women in the Indian Subcontinent 1765-1856)

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Item Code: IDD640
Author: Ketaki Kushari Dyson
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Edition: 2002
ISBN: 0195661141
Pages: 428(B & W Illus: 16)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.8" X 5.7"
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Book Description

About the Book:

First published by OUP in 1978, this is a pioneering study of a fascinating field of English letters, the books written by British men and women about their experiences in the Indian subcontinent in the second half of the eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth centuries - a part of th great surge of the literature of travel and foreign experience which accompanied the commercial and political expansion of the British people. Over forty individual works are surveyed, illustrating a substantial corpus that reaches the status of a genre.

The panorama of the subcontinent unfolding under the scrutiny of intelligent observers, the wealth of information on every aspect of Indian life, the memorable East-West cultural encounter, the extraordinary nature of many of the adventures and confrontations recorded: all provide exciting material which is every bit as educative and thought-provoking now as it was when the book first appeared.

Generous excerpts from the original texts are balanced against the author's own exegeses, offering rich insights to lay readers as well as to literary people, historians, and anthropologists.

The new preface to this edition gives the reader a glimpse into what the writing of this book has meant to Dyson in her own subsequent literary career, and encourages us to re-think some of the much-debated issues of recent intellectual discourses on cultural encounters between the West and non-West.

About the Author:

Ketaki Kushari Dyson has published many titles in Bengali and English, covering genres from poetry, fiction, drama, and essays to literary translation and research-based books. She received the Ananda Puraskar twice (1986 and 1997), the Bhubanmohini Dasi Medal of the University of Calcutta for her contribution to Bengali letters (1986), and the Recommendation of London's Poetry Book Society for her translations of Tagore's poetry (1991).

Excerpts from Reviews

'This fine addition to our general knowledge of India ought to be in every South Asia and British Empire collection.'

-Choice, Chicago

'This evocation of a time when the old India was vanishing and the new British India was emerging is delineated with subtlety and imagination. …"Only connect", urged E.M. Forster: Ketaki Dyson does connect.'

-The Times Literary Supplement, London

'Besides the intellectual profit to be gained from this book, there is even more the pleasure to be anticipated from being guided by a sensitive and studious woman whose writing mirrors the best qualities of the subjects of her study.'

-The Historical Association, London

'…[a]formidable inquiry. …One rises after reading this massive book grateful to its author for taking up and executing a difficult but necessary project in literary and historical research.'

-Indo-British Review, Madras

'The author's scholarship is impressive.'

-New Quest, Bombay

'Dr. Dyson has triumphantly vindicated her claim that the journals of the British in India deserve to be regarded as a distinct genre… .'

-Indian and Foreign Review, New Delhi




    Jemima Kindersley to William Huggins

    Reginald Heber to Madeline and
    Rosalind Wallace-Dunlop


    Some Examples of Religious Debates from
    the Journals and Letters of Henry Martyn

    Some Examples of Impression of Indian
    Dancing and Music Including the Cabaret Aspects
    of the Nautch, in the Journals and Memoirs

    Indian Themes in Mrs Sherwood's
    Stories for Children




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