About the book
For anyone interested in the story of English in India, or in the finest English storytellers of India, this is the essential companion.
This book is a history of two hundred years of Indian literature in English. It starts by looking at the introduction of English into India’s complex language scenario around 1800. It then takes up the canonical poets, novelists, and dramatists, as well as a few unjustly forgotten figures, who have made significant contributions to the evolution of Indian literature in English.
The book comprises twenty-four chapters, written by some of India’s foremost scholars and critics. Each chapter is devoted either to a single author (Kipling, Tagore, Sri Aurobindo, R.K. Narayan), or to a group of authors (the Dutt family of nineteenth-century Calcutta; the Indian diasporic writers of the twentieth century), or to a genre (beginnings of the Indian novel; poetry since Independence).
Though the contributors are all experts in their chosen areas, this is a book for the non-specialist general reader. Biographical information on major literary figures is provided, and in most cases their work is historically contextualized. The chapters can be read selectively (for example, to follow the development of a genre) or in the order in which they appear, which is chronological.
William Jones and Thomas Macaulay, Henry Derozio and Toru Dutt, Bankim and Tagore, Kipling and Naipaul, G.V. Desani and Raja Rao, R.K. Narayan and Nirad C. Chaudhuri, Sarojini Naidu and Anita Desai, Gandhi and Nehru, Mulk Raj Anand and Aubrey Menen, Khushwant Singh and Ved Mehta, Verrier Elwin and Salim Ali, Jim Corbett and M. Krishnan, Nissim Ezekiel and A.K. Ramanujan, Salman Rushdie and Vikram Seth, Amitav Ghosh and I. Allan Sealy, Gieve Patel and Girish Karnad, social reformers and religious thinkers, conservationists and hunters, Presidency College and St Stephen’s College, drama and translation, this volume covers everything of literary significance that has happened in India.