Shoshee Chunder Dutt (1824-1885), one of the early Indian English writers, wrote poetry, fiction, essays, sketches, as well as histories and socio-anthropological studies. Dutt may be called the Father of Indian English Literature not only because he was easily the most representative writer of this period, but also sought to Indianise the foreign language and the various western forms to express Indian feelings, experiences and ideas. The author of such works as The Republic of Orissa: A Page from the Annals of the Twentieth Century (1845), Miscellaneous Verses (1848), Reminiscences of a Kerani's Life (1872-73), Shunkur: A Tale of the Indian Mutiny of 1857 (1874), Bengal: An Account of the Country from the Ancient Times (1874)., The Young Zemindar (1880), The Wild Tribes of India (1884), Realities of Indian Life, or, Stories Collated from the Criminal Reports of India: to Illustrate the Life, Manners and Customs of its Inhabitants (1885), etc., He belonged to the famous 'Dutt Family' of the nineteenth-century Bengal.
This volume contains Shoshee Chunder Dutt's four available works of fiction: The Republic of Orissa: A Page from the Annals of the Twentieth Century (1845), Reminiscences of a Kerani's Life (1872-73), Shunkur: A Tale of the Indian Mutiny 1857 (1874), and The Young Zemindar (1880). A victim of colonial persecution, he sometimes wrote under the pseudonyms of J. A. G. Barton and Horatio Bickerstaffe Rowney. As a writer Dutt may not be familiar to readers today - even to scholars in Indian English literature - and the name may be half-familiar, but he deserves to be called the Father of Indian English Literature. Dutt's writings not only 'write back' but also seek to re-construct the history and re-create the cultural identity of India. Most interestingly, his works written under pseudonym, were recommended as study materials even in English schools. While The Republic of Orissa, the second major work of fiction in Indian English envisions the freedom of the country, The Young Zemindar fictionalises an organised armed resistance against the colonisers. Reminiscences of a Kerani's Life is a thinly veiled autobiography narrating his experience as a colonial subject. Shunkur: A Tale of the Indian Mutiny of 1857, written against the backdrop of the First War of Independence (1857), is perhaps the first account of the so-called Sepoy Mutiny by an Indian writer.
Subhendu Mund is a well-known Odia poet, critic, lyricist, translator and lexicographer and has published thirty-three books in Odia, English and Kannada. He has also written lyrics and plays, compiled/edited glossaries/dictionaries, and edited anthologies of poems and critical essays. He is the Chief Editor of the Indian Journal of World Literature and Culture.
History forms the nucleus of Shoshee Chunder Dutt's (1824-85) literature. In the colonial context, the mind of the colonised was prone to accept the history handed down by the coloniser. What Dutt seemed to be doing in his fiction as well as other writing was re-writing history to redefine national identity. The first major writer of Indian writing in English, Dutt's commitment to patriotism/nationalism kept creating alternative histories to "write back", to undo the stereotyping of the colonised "Other", or what John Thieme says in a different context, "to correct the distortion of colonial historiography" (146). Ironically, Dutt himself has become a victim of historical oblivion despite making valuable contribution to Indian English literature as a writer. His engagement with coloniality and his initiatives in forging a nationalist discourse through the "master's language" have largely gone unnoticed. Alex Tickell rightly comments that "his prose, while representing some of the earliest fiction in English by a South Asian, has received scant attention in nationalist, Marxist and postcolonial literary histories" (Introduction Selections from Bengaliana' 8).
Rai Shoshee Chunder Dutt, Bahadur3 as a writer may not be familiar to readers today; even to scholars in Indian English literature the name may be half-familiar; but he deserves to be called the Father of Indian English Literature. He is the author of The Republic of Orissa: A Page from the Annals of the Twentieth Century (1845), the earliest major work of fiction in Indian writing in English, and he happens to be the only early Indian English writer to have a sustained career of long, productive forty years (1845-85). More importantly, he was a prolific writer: he wrote fiction running into hundreds of pages, published volumes of poems as well as prose writings on a variety of subjects like history, economics, literature, criminology, ethnography, and religious and philosophical systems. The total number of his published works is more than twenty. His works went for several reprints, and towards the end of his career, were compiled in Bengaliana: A Dish of Rice and Curry and Other Indigestible Ingredients (1877) and The Works of Shoshee Chunder Dutt (in two Series, of six volumes each, 1883-85). As a senior writer and a patriarch of the famous 'Duff Family of Bengal", he might have exerted influence on many of his contemporary writers.
Needless to say, during these forty years or so, the foundation of Indian English literature was firmly laid with the contributions made by his contemporary poets, writers and sociocultural leaders/reformers. Living and working in an age the country had been striving to cope with the colonial collision, he was the contemporary of Henry Louis Vivian Derozio (1809-31), Kashi Prosad Ghosh (1809-73), Debendranath Tagore (1817-1905), Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar (1820-91), Swami Dayananda Saraswati (1824-83), Raj Narain Dutt (1824-89), Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1824-73), Rev. Lal Behari Day (1824-94), Rajnarayan Basu (1826-99), Mahatma Jyotirao Govindrao Phule (1827-90), Bhudev Mukhopadhyay (1827-1894), Dinabandhu Mitra (1830-73), Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836-86), Ram Sharma (Nobo Kissen Ghose, 1837-1918), Bankimchandra Chatted ee (1838-94), Keshub Chandra Sen (1838-84), Mirza Moorad Alee Beg Gaekwaree (1844-1884), Monomohon Ghosh (1844-96), Annie Besant (1847-1933), Romesh Chunder Dutt (1848-1909), Kandukuri Veeresalingam (1848-1919), Behramji Merwanji Malabari (1853-1912), Toru Dutt (1856-77), Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (1861-1946), Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), et al. It was an epoch of transition and transformation, and Calcutta (now Kolkata) where Dutt lived and worked was practically the nerve centre of the great upheaval which India then experienced.
Dutt seems to have occupied a respectable place in the Calcutta literary circles as a senior writer and a patriarch of the Dutt Family. He regularly contributed to contemporary periodicals here and abroad, and reviews of his books were published in Indian as well as British journals. His name figures frequently in local periodicals between 1845 and 1885. Most interestingly, his works were recommended as study materials even in English schools - of course mostly the ones he published under English pseudonyms: J. A. G. Barton and Horatio Bickerstaffe Rowney5! Back home, his writing (as Shoshee Chunder Dutt) was noticed and read, often unfavourably, by "the ruling classes", not merely because he apparently violated service conduct rules - a gift of colonial rule to India - but also because it was looked upon as literature of "sedition" . Despite having a good career, he had to opt for voluntary retirement because he was not given promotion due to him. It is believed that activities of "literary patriotism"' exhibited by Native (read Indian) officers under colonial rule often went against their professional interest. When Dutt took voluntary retirement in April 1873, his victimisation was widely discussed in the local press.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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