Francesca Orsini, "East of Delhi: Multilingual Literary Culture and World Literature" (Oxford UP, 2023)


East of Delhi: Multilingual Literary Culture and World Literature (Oxford University Press, 2023) examines literature produced, practiced, and circulated in and out of North India, focusing on the region of Awadh, from the beginning of recorded vernacular literature in the late fourteenth century to the colonial era of the early twentieth century. This book considers texts in a wide range of genres-courtly, devotional, and popular-composed in the main languages of the region: Hindavi, Persian, Brajbhasha, and Urdu. Individual chapters focus on narratives, devotional song-poems and didactic works, local courtly literary practices, and multilingual education as recorded in biographical dictionaries-anthologies. This book suggests that the multilingual and multi-genre approach is better suited to capturing the texture, complexity, and dynamics of literature in the world, and of literary history, than approaches that focus only on global circulation or models that draw centers and peripheries on a single global map.

Francesca Orsini is Professor Emerita of Hindi and South Asian Literature at SOAS, University of London. After earning an undergraduate degree in Hindi at Venice University and living in Delhi, she completed her PhD at SOAS. She taught at the University of Cambridge and SOAS and held visiting positions at Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania. She was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, Harvard, and is a Fellow of the British Academy, a regional editor of the Murty Classical Library of India, and an editor of the Cambridge Studies in World Literature series. Her previous monographs include the 2009 book Print and Pleasure: Popular Literature and Entertaining Fictions in Colonial North India and the 2002 book The Hindi Public Sphere 1920-1940, Language and Literature in the Age of Nationalism. She has recently also been writing on decolonisation, the role of magazines in cold-war internationalisms and rethinking the paradigm of world literature by taking a more multilingual and located approach.

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