A Breath of Fresh Air
Saugata Bhaduri
THE LITERARY THING: HISTORY, POETRY AND THE MAKING OF A MODERN CULTURAL SPHERE by Rosinka Chaudhuri Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2015, 332 pp., 995
January 2015, volume 39, No 1

I must confess that, at the beginning, I was rightfully wary of picking up one more book presumably documenting how colonial modernity charted its course through literature produced during the so-called Bengal Renaissance, but I am happy to say that my w(e)ariness could not have been more misplaced. Rosinka Chaudhuri’s attempt is a breath of fresh air in the suffocatingly overpopulated discursive domain of studying nineteenth century Bengali literature to make, now somewhat commonsensical, points about the Bengal intelligentsia’s complex interaction with the British colonial milieu. And, as I will elaborate one after the other, Chaudhuri’s study is novel on not one, but four counts—the methodology it adopts, the objective it pursues, the objects it takes up for study, and the contribution it makes to existing scholarship.

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