This book, the first major reassessment of literary history in nineteenth-century India for a generation, opens up this emerging field of literary history to nineteenth-century India. Its essays emphasise the making of literary history, the process of canonisation, the reinvention of literary tradition, and the writing of literary history itself.
A central premise of the book is that when European literary cultures arrived in India, they came into contact with popular performance forms and complex literary cultures that had their own histories. The essays also reach beyond the obvious genres and include little-known texts, situating them within a wider debate about national origins, linguistic identities, and political entitlements. Print culture and oral tales, drama and gender, library use and publishing history, theatre and audiences, detective fiction and low-caste novels are among the topics covered.