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Calcutta: A Cultural and literary history

Calcutta: A Cultural and literary history
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Item Code: IDG815
Author: Krishna Dutta
Publisher: Lotus Collection, Roli Books
Language: English
Edition: 2005
ISBN: 8174362606
Pages: 255 {30 Illustration in B/W}
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 8.8" X 5.7"
From the Jacket

Calcutta is the place where the West first truly encountered the East. Founded in the 1690s by east India company merchants beside the Hoogly River, Calcutta grew into both India's capital during the Raj and the second city of the British Empire. Named the City of Palace for its grand neo-classical mansions, Calcutta was the city of Clive, Hastings, Macaulay and Curzon. It was also home to extraordinary Bengalis such as Rabindranath Tagore, the first Asian Noble laureate, and Satyajit Ray, among the geniuses of world cinema.

Above all, Calcutta is a city of extremes, where exquisite refinement rubs shoulders with carse commercialism and savage political violence. Krishna Dutta explores these multiple paradoxes, giving personal insight into Calcutta's unique history and modern identity as reflected in its architecture, cinema and music.

City of Artists: Modern India's cultural capital; home city of Tagore, ray and Jamini Roy; College Street and the annual book fair; a city of learning and books.

City of Durga and Kali: Kumortuli's holy images and the flamboyant annual Durga Puja; Kalighat Temple, and Kali, Calcutta's divine and terrible protectress.

City of Palaces: Grand colonial monuments and crumbling mansions of the Bengali babus; a mix of Palladin, Baroque, Rococo, Gothic, Hindu and Islamic architecture.

Krishna Dutta was born and brought up in Calcutta. She has translated Bengali literature and written several books on Rabindranath Tagore.

From the Back of the Book

Other forms of nascent Bengali nationalism were less genteel. As the balance of indo-British trade swung in favour of imports to India over exports to Britain, Bengalis became increasingly perturbed. In 1861 a small group of them launched a Society for the Promotion of National Feeling, which advised Bengalis to speak and write Bengali not English, to wear the dhoti rather than western clothes, to eat Bengali food, to take up indigenous games and exercises such as yoga, and to depend on traditional medicine such as the Ayurvedic system. An ardent Brahmo nationalist, Nabagopal Mitra, started the Hindu Mela, an annual cultural-cum-political festival promoting traditional village handicrafts to boost national pride. Although the aims of the festival were initially somewhat confused-it once included a specially commissioned "nationalist" painting "depicting the people of India in supplication before the figure of Britannia"! The festival became a fixture in the calendar and helped to prepare the way for the Swadeshi movement after 1900.

Foreword by Anita Desai vii
Preface & Acknowledgement xiv
Introduction 1
Kaighat 4
Chapter One Company Calcutta 9
Chapter Two City of the Babus 33
Chapter Three City of the Sahibs 58
Chapter Four City of Reformers 84
Chapter Five Imperial City 113
Chapter Six The Struggle for Independence 140
Chapter Seven City of Strife 169
Chapter Eight City of Learning 195
Chapter Nine Artistic Calcutta 215
Further Reading 241
Appendix 245
Index 247

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