Pandurang Hari and the Criticism of British Rule in India

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Pandurang Hari, published in 1826, is an Anglo-Indian novel belonging to the pre-Kipling era. The novel was written by an English official named William Browne Hockley. It contains a scathing criticism of Indians in general and Marathas in particular. Hence, scholars have readily recognized it as a colonialist work. What remains unnoticed is the fact that the novel also criticizes aspects of British rule in India. Focusing on this, the present article tries to show how the novel at times subverts the very discourse of colonialism it seeks to foster. William Browne Hockley (1792 – 1860) was a pioneer in the field of Anglo-Indian literature . He is remembered today mainly for his novel Pandurang Hari. Drawing on Elleke Boehmer’s classification, one may claim that Hockley was a ‘colonialist writer’. His works, written for Englishmen at home, reflected the imperialist’s point of view. It contained an apologia for British rule in India; as a reviewer of Pandurang Hari mentions, “If we have done nothing else for India, we have made such a state of things as is described by Pandurang Hari simply impossible.” (The Saturday Review 728) This aspect of Pandurang Hari has drawn attention of many scholars. What remains unnoticed is that the novel also contains a criticism of the praxis of British rule in India. The aim of this article is to highlight that aspect of the work. A brief introduction to the author is necessary. Unfortunately, not much is known about Hockley’s life. In his “Introduction” to Pandurang Hari Sir Bartle Frere only informs that William Browne Hockley served in a judicial station at Broach, and then under the Commissioners of the Deccan, before leaving service “under a cloud.” (Frere xv) Udayon Misra’s ac... ... middle of paper ... ... Udayon. The Raj in Fiction: A Study of Nineteenth Century British attitudes Towards India. Delhi: B. R. Publishing Corporation, 1987. Print. Oaten, E. F. A Sketch of Anglo-Indian Literature. London: Kegan Paul Trench Trübner & Co. Ltd, 1908. Print. Rev. of Pandurang Hari. The British Quarterly Review 58:115 (July 1873): 252. Print. Rev. of Pandurang Hari. The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art 35:918 (31 May 1873): 727 - 728. Print. Singh, Bhupal. A Survey of Anglo-Indian Fiction. London: Oxford University Press, 1934. Print. [Taylor, Philip Meadows]. “Administration of India.” British and Foreign Review or European Quartely Journal 11: 21 (July 1840): 151 – 210. Print. Taylor, Philip Meadows. Letters of Philip Meadows Taylor to Henry Reeve. Ed. Sir Patrick Cadell. London: Oxford University Press, 1947. Print.

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