History, it seems, has to attain a degree of scientificity, resident in the truth-value of its narrative, before it can be called history, as distinguished from the purely literary or political. Invoking the work of Jacques Rancière and Hayden White, this essay investigates the manner in which history becomes a science through a detour that gives speech a regime of truth. It does this by exploring the nineteenth-century relationship of history to poetry and to truth in the context of the emerging discipline of history in Bengal. The question is discussed in relation to a patriotic poem, Palashir Yuddha (1875), accused of ahistoricality, as well as to a defense made by Bengal's first professional historian, Jadunath Sarkar, against a similar charge in the context of Bankimchandra Chatterjee's historical novels. That the relationship of creativity to history is a continuing preoccupation for the historian is finally explored through Ranajit Guha's invocation of Tagore in History at the Limit of World-History (2002).

You do not currently have access to this content.