Thursday, March 22, 2012

They Study Us More Than We Do Ourselves

TLS March 9 2012

from David Arnold's review of Michael J. Franklin's Orientalist Jones: Sir William Jones, poet, lawyer, and linguist:

[Franklin] ... begins, rather than ends, with Jones's most celebrated achievement--the "world-modifying" address made to the Asiatic Society in 1786 in which he revealed the close affinity between Sanskrit, Greek and Latin, and hence the ancient connection between India and Europe .

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Franklin rejects the idea that Jones was an arch-imperialist, who used his Orientalist learning to help impose Western hegemony over India, whose command of law and language was a route to colonial mastery. Franklin argues that this misrepresents Jones, divorcing his Indian years from his earlier career, and makes a travesty of his lifelong hatred of tyranny. Jones merits recognition instead as a multiculturalist who made deep connections between cultures.


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from Rosinka Chaudhuri's review of Arvind Krishna Mehrotra's Partial Recall: Essays on literature and literary history:

What he has given us, rather, is that which he says is so scarce in the Indian literary landscape that it appears "more barren than ever before": "critical scrutiny, intelligent encouragement, and credible evaluation". Running through it all is a sharp sense of anguish at the indifference of those who should care the most: "The great betrayal of our literature has been primarily by those who teach in the country's English departments, the academic community whose job it was to green the hillsides by planting them with biographies, scholarly editions, selections carrying new introductions, histories, canon-shaping (or canon-breaking) anthologies, readable translations, revaluations, exhaustive bibliographies devoted to individual authors, and critical essays that, because of the excellence of their prose, become as much a part of the literature as any significance novel or poem. Little of this has happened".

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