The Novel In Nineteenth Century Bengal : Becoming Readers in Colonial India – Sunayani Bhattacharya (Hardcover)


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How does a reader learn to read an unfamiliar genre? The Novel in Nineteenth-Century Bengal answers this question by looking at the readers of some of the first Bengali novelists, including Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay and Mir Mosharraf Hossain. Moving from the world of novels, periodicals, letters, and reviews to that of colonial educational policies, this book provides a rich literary history of the reading lives of some of the earliest novel readers in colonial India.

Sunayani Bhattacharya studies the ways in which Bengalis thought about reading; how they approached the thorny question of influence; and uncovers that they relied on classical Sanskrit and Perso-Arabic literary and aesthetic models, whose attendant traditions formed not a distant past, but coexisted, albeit contentiously, with the everyday present. Challenging dominant postcolonial scholarship, The Novel in Nineteenth-Century Bengal engages with the lived experience of colonial modernity as it traces the import of the Bengali reader’s choices on her quotidian life, and grants access to 19th-century Bengal as a space in which the past is to be found enmeshed with the present.


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