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Hartly House, Calcutta
This novel is a designedly political document. Written at the time of the Hastings impeachment and set in the period of Hastings's Orientalist government, Hartly House, Calcutta (1789) represents a dramatic delineation of the Anglo-Indian encounter. The novel constitutes a significant intervention in the contemporary debate concerning the nature of Hastings's rule of India by demonstrating that it was characterised by an atmosphere of intellectual sympathy and racial tolerance. Within a few decades the Evangelical and Anglicising lobbies frequently condemned Brahmans as devious beneficiaries of a parasitic priestcraft, but Phebe Gibbes's portrayal of Sophia's Brahman and the religion he espouses represent a perception of India dignified by a sympathetic and tolerant attempt to dispel prejudice. -- .
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'An entertaining account of Calcutta . These letters indeed are written with a degree of vivacity which renders them very amusing'
'one of the earliest British novels of India of a transcultural love affair between the heroine Sophia Goldborne and a young Brahman. Although positively reviewed by Mary Wollstonecraft, as "an animated picture of Eastern manners", it soon vanished from literary history; only recently has it begun to arouse the interest of students of 18th-century colonial literature . Michael Franklin has done a splendid job editing the novel, with a full introductory essay and explanatory notes, thereby making it available to researchers, students, and the general reader. The republication of Hartly House, Calcutta will add a new dimension to our understanding of 18th-century literature and early British India.'
Nigel Leask, Regius Professor of English, University of Glasgow -- .