1st Edition

Being English Indian Middle Class and the Desire for Anglicisation

By Sayan Chattopadhyay Copyright 2022
    204 Pages
    by Routledge India

    204 Pages
    by Routledge India

    This book critically examines the cultural desire for anglicisation of the Indian middle class in the context of postcolonial India.

    It looks at the history of anglicised self-fashioning as one of the major responses of the Indian middle class to British colonialism. The book explores the rich variety of nineteenth- and twentieth-century writings that document the attempts by the Indian middle class to innovatively interpret their personal histories, their putative racial histories, and the history of India to appropriate the English language and lay claim to an “English” identity. It discusses this unique quest for “Englishness” by reading the works of authors like Michael Madhusudan Dutt, Rabindranath Tagore, Cornelia Sorabji, Nirad C. Chaudhuri, Dom Moraes, and Salman Rushdie.

    An important intervention, this book will be of interest to scholars and researchers of postcolonial studies, Indian English literature, South Asian studies, cultural studies, and English literature in general.

    Acknowledgements. Introduction: Contours of Englishness in Colonial India 1. Nineteenth-century Bengal and the Emergence of Indian Middle-Class Anglicization 2 Images of Indian Womanhood and the "English" Self of Cornelia Sorabji 3. The Tradition of National Autobiographies and Nirad Chaudhuri’s Homeward Journey to England 4. Anglicization, Citizenship, and Nirad Chaudhuri’s Critique of the Colonial Metropolis 5. Dom Moraes’s Anglicization and the Ambiguity of Return 6. Coda: Anglicization and Aporia. Bibliography. Index.


    Sayan Chattopadhyay is Associate Professor of English in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He received his doctorate degree from the University of Cambridge in 2014. He was the recipient of the 2010–2013 Smuts Cambridge International Scholarship and was the Baden Württemberg visiting fellow at the South Asia Institute of the University of Heidelberg in 2017. His research has been primarily in the area of Indian middle-class self-fashioning and its literary manifestations.

    ‘I feel privileged to have been an early reader of Sayan Chattopadhyay's Being English. This monograph looks set to change the way we think about Indian writing in English. I recommend this groundbreaking, meticulously-researched book in the strongest possible terms.’

    Claire Chambers, Professor of Global Literature, University of York, UK

    ‘Sayan Chattopadhyay provides fine-tuned, sensitive interpretations of Indian intellectuals in a colonial set-up and circumspect analyses of their writings. Smart and well-written, Being English will be a very welcome contribution to the study of Indian English literature.’

    Hans Harder, Professor of Modern South Asian Languages and Literatures, University of Heidelberg, Germany 

    ‘Sayan Chattopadhyay's book will be regarded as an important addition to Indian colonial and postcolonial studies as the critically informed chapters open up new vistas of perception by foregrounding anglicization as a conscious choice of empowerment, through a process of self-fashioning, appropriation and abrogation. The book significantly debunks the overwhelming postcolonial discourse about cultural colonization and mimicry.’ 

    Sanjukta Dasgupta, Professor of English (Retd), University of Calcutta, India