Abstract

The status of Kalhana's poem Rajatarangini was mediated in colonial India in part through its English translations. However, the intent of the translations has been insufficiently analyzed in the context of the interrelationship between Orientalist and nationalist projects and the historical and literary ideas that informed them. The translators of Rajatarangini framed the text as more than a solitary example of Indian historical writing; rather, they engaged with it on multiple levels, drawing out, debating, and rethinking the definitions of literature and history and the relative significance of and relationship between them in capturing the identity of the nation and its regions. This article examines two translations of the text—one “Orientalist” and the other “nationalist”—with the purpose of interrogating these categories, by drawing out the complex engagement between European and indigenous ideas, and the dialogue between past and present that informed their production.

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