The eighteenth-century English Oriental tale has in recent scholarship been read as both productive and dissident. But the legacies of this literary genre in the Indian colony and its role in the formation of a world literature remain mostly unstudied. The formation of colonial institutions such as Fort William College, Calcutta (1800), inaugurated the standardization of the fluid North Indian language complex into the religiously demarcated vernaculars Urdu and Hindi. The imperially patronized production of the Oriental tale as both a literary and a pedagogical form, exemplified by Mir Amman’s Bāġh-o Bahār (The Garden and the Spring, 1804), among other works, began the process of the large-scale and nearly irreversible reorganization of North Indian literary traditions. The rise of a colonial nexus of educational institutions for natives codified the Fort William works as canonical, while narratives such as the dāstān that operated at a distance from the colonial ambit became, at best, peripheral to a modern Urdu literature.

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