07. Representing Early Indian Women: The Discourse of Liberal European Romanticism

Representing Early Indian Women: The discourse of liberal European Romanticism
Nibabari Banerjee

William Jones’ translation of the Sanskrit drama, ‘Sacontala’, referred to Indian women in the past. It did not involve any historical analysis; by translating the drama he created history. He mentioned, ‘Give us time, we may say, for our investigations, and we will transfer to Europe all the sciences, arts and literature of Asia’. The translation was the initial step. He did not offer any critical observation and glorified Indian culture to a great extent that expressed the ideological framework of his work. Irrespective of the fact that a gender discourse was historically absent in the academic sphere when Jones and other ‘Orientalists’ were writing, it is necessary to dwell upon the matter because this very ‘absence’ was read by subsequent historians, especially of nationalist genre as a definite ‘presence’, of a particular perspective where women’s history was a minor part of man’s history perceived from a man’s angle.

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