Kedar Arun KulkarniNov 14, 2022
World Literature and the Question of Genre in Colonial India
Poetry, Drama, and Print Culture 1790-1890
Bloomsbury Academic 2022
In 1818, the East India Company defeated the Maratha confederacy, acquiring vast domains in central and western India. Through coercion if not outright violence, the Company transformed many aspects of India's social, economic, and cultural landscape. This book charts one such shifting landscape-Marathi language literary culture-in order to expand the field of world and comparative literature. Kedar A. Kulkarni describes the way Marathi literary culture, entrenched in performative modes of production and reception, especially balladry and epic storytelling, saw the germination of a robust, script-centric dramatic culture, owing to colonial networks of literary exchange and the newfound wide availability of print technology. However, the process was far from a simple mutation of genre. He demonstrates the upheaval that literary culture underwent as a new class of literati emerged: anthologists, critics, theatre makers, publishers, translators, among many others. And, these people also participated in a global conversation that left its mark on theory in the twentieth century.
Ultimately, World Literature and the Question of Genre in Colonial India: Poetry, Drama, and Print Culture 1790-1890 (Bloomsbury, 2022) situates Marathi literature within contemporary world literature studies and critiques “eurochronology”- the perceived backwardness of colonial and postcolonial locales when compared with literatures produced in Euro-American metropoles. Reading through archives and ephemera, it demonstrates that literary cultures in colonized locales converged with and participated fully in key defining moments of world literature, but also diverged from them to create, simultaneously, a unique literary modernity.
Dr. Kedar A. Kulkarni teaches at FLAME University, Pune.
Gargi Binju is a researcher at the University of Tübingen.