The Fate of <i>Rīti</i> Literature in Colonial India

Allison Busch

in Poetry of Kings

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199765928
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918973 | DOI:

Series: South Asia Research

The Fate of Rīti Literature in Colonial India

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This chapter examines the fate of rīti literature under the new political and epistemological regimes of colonialism and nationalism. Radical upheavals were spurred by new nineteenth-century developments in print culture and the textbook industry stewarded by colonial officials, along with reforms in language and literary tastes. Hindi modernity meant that new genres such as the essay and the novel began to supplant the older Brajbhasha verse forms. By the early twentieth century, many Hindi intellectuals, such as Mahavir Prasad Dvivedi, were publicly distancing themselves from traditional Indian poetics and repudiating Brajbhasha, Hindi’s preeminent literary dialect, in favor of Khari Boli. Also considered here is the nationalist vision of Hindi literary history epitomized by the writings of Ramchandra Shukla. Under the new historiography dictated by the discourse of Hindi modernity, bhakti literature became the language’s salvageable past and Hindi’s once thriving courtly traditions would now carry the taint of medieval decadence.

Keywords: Mahavir Prasad Dvivedi; Ramchandra Shukla; colonialism; nationalism; reform; print culture; Khari Boli; Brajbhasha; modernity; historiography

Chapter.  16656 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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