A European Experience of the Mughal Orient: The Ijaz-I Arsalani (Persian Letters, 1773-1779) of Antoine-Louis Henry Polier
Alam, Muzaffar & Alavi, Seema (Trs.)
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Book ID : 245
ISBN-10 : 0-19-569187-3 / 0195691873
ISBN-13 : 978-0-19-569187-0 / 9780195691870
of Publication :
of Publication :
Edition : (Reprint)
Language : English
438p., 21 cm.
While some of the European texts have been linked to larger issues of knowledge generation and establishment of European rule, the Persian literature has remained relatively unintegrated. This has left the debate on the orientalist constructions of India skewed, if not incomplete. This volume attempts to correct this imbalance. The complex network of cultural interaction between Europeans and Indians in the eighteenth century generated a range of literature in both European as well as Indian languages, including Persian which had long been the language of the political and cultural elite in India. It offers a free English translation of the first volume one such Persian test, a set of letters- between a Franco-Swiss military officer in the service of the English east India Company,. Major Antoine-Louis Henri Polier and a range of Indians, from the emperor and the nobles at court to ordinary trade agents and artisans in the bazaar- written in the wake of critical transitions inn north India. Also included in the volume are his personal letters written to his Indian wives, children and domestic servants, as well as letters to European and Company officials stationed in India. An extensive discursive introduction analyses the text and locates it in larger social and cultural world of the period. When read along with Polier's English letters to Warren Hastings, William Jones, Joseph Banks and other high-ranking British administrators, the text adds a refreshing European perspective to the largely English colonialism-centered debate on orientalism in the Indian context. It reveals sensitivity towards the complex syncretic Indo-Persian culture that over two hundred years of Mughal rule had nurtured; and which was under threat of being torn apart on caste and religious lines by the eighteenth-century British orientalist scholar-administrators.