Inscribing Identity : Essays from Nineteenth Century Bengal

Edited by Krishna Sen In Collaboration with Ramakrishna Bhattacharya


Inscribing Identity : Essays from Nineteenth Century Bengal, edited by Krishna Sen in collaboration with Ramkrishna Bhattacharya, is a collection of twenty-five essays and long extracts, all written originally in English between 1818 and 1899 by eminent Bengali thinkers, leaders, scholars, scientists and business men of that era. The authors range from Raja Rammohun Roy and Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay to Iswarchandra Vidyasagar, Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo, and from Sir Surendranath Banerjee and Bipin Chandra Pal to Hurrish Chunder Mookerji, Justice Sir Gooroo Dass Banerjee, Mutty Lal Seal, Dr. Mahendralal Sircar and Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray. The selections, which reflect the major movements, debates and controversies of those eventful years in the history of Bengal, have been grouped under six main headings--the political environment, culture and society, the condition of women, education, science and industry and Bengali language and literature. Some date from the period of the Bengal Renaissance and some from the immediately succeeding decades, and mirror the quick-silver Bengali mind in its panoramic sweep from the poetic to the practical. Collectively, the pieces represent the myriad ways in which Bengali intellectuals came to terms with or creatively appropriated Western modernity, how they articulated and confronted emerging political and social crises, how deeply they thought about building new institutions such as universities and industry and a free press, and their dreams for a resurgent Bengal. The notes that follow provide biographical sketches of the authors, set each piece within its specific socio-historical context, and provide exhaustive annotations. As a record of the inscription of a challenging new identity in a tempestuous period of India's colonial history, this volume aims to serve as a meaningful introduction to one of the most significant socio-cultural locations that contributed to the making of modern India.




The Political Environment

1. Appeal to his countrymen - Babu Keshub Chunder Sen

2. An apology for the Pubna Rioters - Romesh Chunder Dutt

3. Joseph Mazzini - Surendranath Banerjea

4. Speech on the founding of the Indian National Congress - W.C. Bonnerjee

5. Speech on Congress Resolution on the Repeal of the Arms Act (Extract) - Bipin Chandra Pal

Culture and Society

6. The Anglo-Saxon and the Hindu - Michael Madhusudan Dutt

7. Confessions of a young Bengal - Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay

8. Beef in ancient India (Extract) - Rajendralala Mitra

9. Response to the address at Madura - Swami Vivekananda

The Condition of Women

10. A conference between an advocate for and an opponent of the practice of Burning Widows alive       (Part I) - Raja Rammohun Roy

11. Brief remarks regarding modern encroachments on the ancient rights of females - Raja Rammohun Roy

12. A sketch on the condition of the Hindoo women - Mahesh Chandra Deb

13. Marriage of Hindu widows - Iswarchandra Vidyasagar


14. A prize essay on native female education - Rev. Krishna Mohan Banerjea

15. A few desultory remarks on the "Cursory review of the institutions of Hindooism affecting the interest of the female sex" contained in the Rev. K.M. Banerjia's Prize Essay on native female education - Baboo Peary Chand Mittra

16. National education (Extract) - Hurrish Chunder Mookerji

17. University of Calcutta Convocation Addresses (Extracts) - Gooroodass Banerjee

18. Principles of university education from the East and the West - Anon

Science and Industry

19. Letter to His Excellency the Right Hon'ble William Pitt, Lord Amherst - Raja Rammohun Roy

20. Letter to R. Macdonald Stephenson on the introduction of the Railways in Bengal - Mutty Lall Seal

21. On the desirability of cultivation of the sciences by the natives of India (August 2, 1869); Dr. Sircar's Prospectus for the 'Indian Association for the Cultivation of Sciences' in The Hindoo Patriot (January 3, 1870); Review of Vernacular works on Physics (1874) - Mahendralal Sircar 

22. A proposal for school of industry or practical science - Dinanath Sen

23. Scientific education in India - Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy

Bengali Language and Literature

24. Plan for a new spelling book - Baboo Gobinda Chunder Bysak

25. What he (Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay) did for Bengal - Sri Aurobindo


Biographical notes




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