The Oppressive Present : Literature and Social Consciousness in Colonial India book cover
1st Edition

The Oppressive Present
Literature and Social Consciousness in Colonial India

ISBN 9781138660175
Published January 20, 2016 by Routledge India
238 Pages

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Book Description

Marking a departure from studies on history and literature in colonial India, The Oppressive Present explores the emergence of social consciousness as a result of and in response to the colonial mediation in the late nineteenth century. In focusing on contemporary literature in Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, and Marathi, it charts an epochal change in the gradual loss of the old pre-colonial self and the configuration of a new, colonized self. It reveals that the ‘oppressive present’ of generations of subjugated Indians remains so for their freed descendants: the consciousness of those colonized generations continues to characterize the ‘modern educated Indian’. The book proposes ambivalence rather than binary categories — such as communalism and nationalism, communalism and secularism, modernity and tradition — as key to understanding the making of this consciousness.

This cross-disciplinary volume will prove essential to scholars and students of modern and contemporary Indian history and society, comparative literature and post-colonial studies.

Table of Contents

Prologue to this Edition. Acknowledgements. Introduction. 1. Crushed by English Poetry 2. Tradition: Orthodox and Heretical 3. Defining the Nation. Conclusion. Notes. About the Author. Index

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Sudhir Chandra is currently Associate Fellow, Nantes Institute of Advanced Studies, France.


‘[A]n important addition to the growing literature on the social and cultural history of British India . . . [the book] offer[s] a knowledgeable and sensitive account . . . [Its] discussion of nationalism and communalism is illuminating . . . notable for its command over literature in several languages, and . . . nuanced reading of texts.’ — The Journal of Asian Studies

‘[A] very intelligent book . . . carefully researched.’ American Historical Review

‘[Sudhir Chandra] presents aspects of [the] ‘other’ history in his representations of native resistances to colonization in nineteenth- and twentieth-century India. [He] attempts to recover certain vernacular texts from nineteenth-century India and seeks to create an alternate space from which to represent literary studies in India.’ — Modern Fiction Studies