Manoj Das has to his credit, in more than one sense of that term, several col¬lections of short stories, published in England and the United States, and much acclaimed there. He won prizes for litera¬ture, not only in his state, Orissa, but also in the wider context of India—a Sahitya Akademi award as far back as 1972. One turns to his first novel therefore with great expectations, and one is not disap¬pointed.
Udayon Misra’s The Raj in Fiction: A Study of Nineteenth Century British Atti¬tudes Towards India is a study of Anglo-Indian literature of the years 1820 to 1870 in the light of prevailing British attitudes to India. It comes as the latest addition to a small but growing collection of studies on 19th century Anglo-Indian literature. Indeed there is today a serious interest in the literary discourse generated by the British colonization of India not only in the discourse of the present century but also in the obscure and for¬gotten literary texts of the 19th century in the works of writers like Captain Meadows Taylor, W.D. Arnold, Flora Annie Steel and Maud Diver.
The most important fact about this book is that it is the first comprehensive study of the subject. And its importance to the critical canon (a term King seems fond of) may remain just that. Which is a pity since King does not lack insights or an awareness of the situation in Indian English poetry. But after some meticulous research, King seems to have been forced to put together a book anyhow—and a book which would reflect the amount of research he had done. So we have a book where the ‘approach is historical, cul¬tural, sociological and literary’ as the author himself claims.
This is, by any definition, a rather remarkable book. It is part biography, part compendium, part chronology and part eulogy. It has been put together by a young swami after more than a decade of patient work during which he must have scoured every journal that had written anything about Swami Vivekananda during the days of his ascendance.
Both these books focus on the situation of poor women. Emphasizing oppression within the household, they highlight the trivialization and invisible status of women’s intrahousehold work. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the two books cover some ground in common.
This is a doctoral dissertation for which the author, now settled abroad, got her doctorate from Oxford some six years ago. It is on an important subject, whose consequences are still with us, written by someone born after the horri¬ble days of communal rioting and parti¬tion, belonging to a different generation than the reviewer whose province, like hers, was partitioned, along with the partition of the sub-continent.
The historiography of medieval India saw its most significant break in the 1920’s when W.H. Moreland published his three major works: India at the Death of Akbar, From Akbar to Aurangzeb, and the Agrarian System of Moslem India. More-land had sought to understand the work¬ing of medieval, specially Mughal Indian economy in all its various aspects—the systems of agricultural and non-agricultural production, internal and external trade, patterns of social consumption, famines, size of population, revenue administration, standards of living of different social strata and so forth.