Though some Indian critics have been only too keen to acclaim or denounce the influence of the West, the discriminating response of Indian writers offers more complex examples of both influence and intertextuality as forms of reception. It hardly matters. Precolonial influence: India and Western literatures The earliest recorded transaction between Indian literature and Western literature was perhaps the translation of the Panchatantra, a collection of fables compiled around the 5th century A. Led by Sir William Jones and Sir Charles Wilkins, it was the British in Calcutta who, in the s, began to translate prolifically from the Sanskrit a body of texts which would cause widespread wonder and admiration throughout Europe as these were subsequently translated from their English versions into other European languages. For so long merely Mediterranean, humanism began to be global […]; a whole buried world arose to unsettle the foremost minds of an age. But though Schwab and Said differ radically on whether this substantial body of translated Indian literature had a beneficial or a deleterious influence on the West, they are both agreed on how enormous and vital the influence was.
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Though some Indian critics have been only too keen to acclaim or denounce the influence of the West, the discriminating response of Indian writers offers more complex examples of both influence and intertextuality as forms of reception. It hardly matters. Precolonial influence: India and Western literatures The earliest recorded transaction between Indian literature and Western literature was perhaps the translation of the Panchatantra, a collection of fables compiled around the 5th century A.
Led by Sir William Jones and Sir Charles Wilkins, it was the British in Calcutta who, in the s, began to translate prolifically from the Sanskrit a body of texts which would cause widespread wonder and admiration throughout Europe as these were subsequently translated from their English versions into other European languages.
For so long merely Mediterranean, humanism began to be global […]; a whole buried world arose to unsettle the foremost minds of an age. But though Schwab and Said differ radically on whether this substantial body of translated Indian literature had a beneficial or a deleterious influence on the West, they are both agreed on how enormous and vital the influence was.
In any case, as the British won more and more vital military victories in India and consolidated their colonial power, their regard for oriental texts seemed correspondingly to decline; their enhanced power over India neither facilitated nor seemed to depend on any enhanced knowledge of the country.
Shortly afterwards, in fact, they instituted steps to make the Indians learn English and discover Western literature and come under its influence, in one of the clearest instances of a direct use of power to turn the tide of the flow of knowledge and its direction. The heyday of orientalism was by now clearly over, and it had by decree been replaced by a kind of occidentalism. Though the English language belonged at least nominally to the Indo-European family, its syntax, culture, social conventions, values and world-view were all as different as could be imagined.
This by itself would have been enough to cause a great impact, but what made the impact incalculably greater was that English literature came to us as the literature of our masters. The influence of English literature on Indian literature may be one of the most extensive and profound influences ever exerted by one literature over another, but it still remains only a very small part of the larger master narrative, if one may so call it, of the impact of British colonial rule on India, and is inextricably entwined with it.
It was not merely, or even mainly, a literary and cultural influence; it was a more comprehensively hegemonic oppression. Rather more prosaic in tone is an academic account of this influence written in English and first published by the Clarendon Press, Oxford, in , one year after India attained independence : The bulk of it [i.
It has […] become a fit medium for adult and civilized consciousness. More important than anything else, it has become humanized. Ghosh, who was one of the first Indians to obtain a D. He stayed on in England, though he never got a proper academic job as a university teacher of English, which apparently he hankered for all his life with his high qualifications; he could only manage little odd jobs as a drudge such as assisting with the revision of the Short-Title Catalogue , or short-term fellowships for a succession of assorted research projects, except for being appointed as a poorly paid lecturer, not in English but in Bengali in which he had no formal qualifications at the University of Cambridge.
He remained a confirmed Anglophile, and his short history of Bengali literature, from which the above extract is taken, was written on a grant from the Rhodes Trust. Indian response In fact, not many Indian critics have been able to command the long perspective in which to view steadily and whole the older constitutive and shaping influence of Sanskrit literature on the literature of the modern Indian languages as well as the newer, unsettling and transformative influence of Western literature.
It was not a contact between two authors or two texts, it was a contact between two civilizations in an unfortunate historical circumstance.
Indeed, a direct consequence of our encounter with the West was that we went back to look again at what we already had and to reassess its worth and value. Unlike in some other parts of the colonised world, such as Africa and the West Indies and, in a different way, also the white settler colonies, we in India had something traditional, substantial and no less rich of our own into which, and against which, to receive the Western impact and to cushion and even foil it.
The Western influence on Indian literature was nothing if not dialectical and dialogic, which makes it perhaps as vast and complex an example as one could find anywhere in world literature not only of influence but also of reception. The anxiety to be influenced In this context, the Indian critical discourse on Western influence seems almost as fascinating as the influence itself, and contributes to the issue a paratextual if not quite metatextual dimension.
This discourse seems to divide predictably into two broad categories, of critics who find such influence everywhere, and of other critics who are either reluctant to see such influence or tend to play it down. It has been in particular in critical discussions of the novel, which is generally agreed to have been a form that did not exist in India before the beginning of the Western influence, that influence studies have had a field day.
One of the most impressive critical works here was produced as a doctoral thesis by Bharat Bhushan Agrawal, fairly late in his career, when he was already well known as a Hindi poet and novelist and held a senior administrative post in the Sahitya Akademi, the Indian National Academy of Letters.
Hindi Upanyas par Pashchatya Prabhav Western Influence on the Hindi Novel , a lively page treatise, is as scholarly, sensitive, and searching an account of literary influence as perhaps any yet attempted in Hindi criticism, and therefore worth attending to for both its virtues and its limitations. In it, Agrawal sets out to explore Western influence on about a dozen modern Hindi novelists who came to prominence after the death in of the greatest Hindi novelist, Premchand.
However, such apparently postcolonial sturdiness does not stop Agrawal from treating all his chosen Hindi novelists as guilty almost of plagiarism until proved innocent, as if that were the recognised universal procedure for conducting influence studies. For example, S. The Eyes of a Child, , a novel by Edwin Pugh. It is a deliciously ironical reflection on the nature of colonial influence that while the novel in question by Ajneya, Shekhar: Ek Jivani 2 vols, , is agreed to be one of the greatest Hindi novels of the twentieth century, Pugh — , who was a Fabian socialist and a prolific novelist of the realist Cockney school, does not even rate an entry in the Oxford Companion to English Literature.
At other places, too, Agrawal appears to be as dogged and even obtuse an influence-hunter as can be imagined. With a queer obedience, she lay down on the blanket. This may seem to be the bane not only of influence studies in general but of colonial influence studies in particular, where as much as possible in the text of a colonial writer is often sought to be shown to be derived from a Western writer, even if it is just a woman lying down.
Broadly comparable in attitude to Agrawal is a later critic, Jaidev, who was Professor of English at the university in Shimla, and whose work of criticism, written in English and titled The Culture of Pastiche: Existential Aestheticism in the Contemporary Hindi Novel deals with the work of four later Hindi novelists who all began writing after India gained independence in , and who may therefore at least technically be called postcolonial.
At the same time, he expressed serious doubt, in the allusive and untranslated Hindi title which he pointedly gave his paper written in English, whether such postcolonialism will ever come to pass. The distinction between the centre and the periphery seems no longer to hold or is said even to have been reversed — with the attendant paradox that if there is now no difference between the centre and the periphery, there is not much point perhaps in being the new centre.
For instance, Michael Baxandall tells us that if we think not of influence on but influence for, the vocabulary is much richer and more attractively diversified: draw on, resort to, avail oneself of, appropriate from, have recourse to, adapt, misunderstand, refer to, pick up, take on, engage with, react to, quote, differentiate oneself from, assimilate oneself to, assimilate, align oneself with, copy, address, paraphrase, absorb, make a variation on, revive, continue, remodel, ape, emulate, travesty, parody, extract from, distort, attend to, resist, simplify, reconstitute, elaborate on, develop, face up to, master, subvert, perpetuate, reduce, promote, respond to, transform, tackle … — everyone will be able to think of others.
Again, the historical colonial experience of being influenced by the West does not show many of the possibilities listed by Baxandall as having been available as real options. To cite very briefly a couple of examples, two of the four novelists whom Jaidev considers in his book to be pasticheurs if not worse have had career trajectories that seem tailor-made for intertextual creativity. Nirmal Verma — , probably the foremost Hindi novelist of the last postcolonial half-century, was the son of a senior bureaucrat of the British Raj, and got his B.
Verma, in contrast, decided to write in Hindi, and in went on a scholarship to Czechoslovakia where he learnt the language and translated several Czech writers into Hindi, including Milan Kundera before he became known in the West.
After the Prague Spring of , Verma went to London and lived there for about two years before returning to India for good. Though he always wrote his fiction in Hindi, Verma would often write his essays and conference papers in either English or Hindi, as seemed suitable. It could be argued that both Verma and Vaid know the West rather better than, say, Rushdie knows India, which he left forever when he was a mere child of thirteen.
Woolf, To the Lighthouse ; rpt. London, , pp. Lodge, Small World New York, , pp. Orr, Intertextuality: Debates and Contexts Cambridge, , pp. Allen, Intertextuality London, , pp. Drabble ed. Das Shimla, , p. New York, , pp. Drew, India and the Romantic Imagination Delhi, For a textually detailed analysis of the connection between imperialism and Romantic Orientalism, see N. New Delhi, Gillespie, Vol. Pollock Berkeley, , pp. Ghosh, Bengali Literature ; rpt. Agrawal, Hindi upanyas par pashchatya prabhav New Delhi, n.
Translating Culture vs. Cultural Translation
Links Translating Culture vs. He is also a prolific and engaged commentator on the politics of global English. It is widely agreed to be the case that translation and translation studies have never had it so good. Over the last two or three decades, translation has become a more prolific, more visible and more respectable activity than perhaps ever before. And alongside translation itself, a new field of academic study has come into existence, initially called Translatology but not for long, thank God! There has of course always been translation, for almost as long as there has been literature. But the historical reasons for the present boom are probably traceable back to three distinct moments across the span of the twentieth century.
Voodoor English literature — Cross-cultural studies. These 8 locations in All: Citing articles via Google Scholar. You transactoins may like to try some of these bookshopswhich may or may not sell this item. To purchase short term access, please sign in to your Oxford Academic account above. Lists What are lists? Most users should sign in with their email address. English literature — Indic influences.