Changing Ideas Of India: A Collage
Seema Alavi
EUROPE’S INDIA: WORDS, PEOPLE, EMPIRES 1500-1800 by Sanjay Subrahmanyam Harvard University Press, 2017, 416 pp., 899
December 2017, volume 41, No 12

This book brings together the writings on India produced by a range of Europeans who travelled or did not travel to India from 1500 to 1800. These include the arrivals from Portugal like Garcia da Orta, travellers headed to Mughal India, like the Frenchman Francois Bernier, Richard Steele and the Bordeaux jeweller, Augustin Herryard; collectors of material objects and trained warriors who arrived in the age of Mughal crisis and made most of the opportunities it offered also find a place in these pages: Richard Johnson and the Franco-Swiss mercenary Antoine Polier among others. The book dwells at length on their lives and literary productions during their India stint. It offers a delightful collage of information they produced that is stylistically diverse and varied in its motivation. It effectively reflects the variety of engagements that individual Europeans had with Indian society.

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