The European Discovery of India: Key Indological Sources of Romanticism

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This set assembles the key literary and devotional texts that accomplished an "Oriental Renaissance" in the West and cultural revolution in India. The powerful combination of Governor-General Hastings ̕Orientalist government policies and Sir William Joness̕ long-held ambition to initiate Europe into the vast literary treasures of the East inaugurated a series of translations from the Sanskrit, which had a profound influence on European culture, particularly on the Romantics. The decisive period in Indic studies began with the arrival of English civil servants in Calcutta around 1780. When British authority was installed in Bengal under Hastings, its first priority was to unravel the labyrinth of local custom and legislation, and its representatives realized that knowledge of the languages of their subjects would be the key to dominion. For this purpose several institutions were established: an oriental college at Fort William for the training of civil servants, a printing press at Calcutta, a Sanskrit college at Benares, and the famous Asiatic Society of Bengal, which held its first meeting on 15 January 1784. This set contains the first works that were translated directly from the Sanskrit into any European language and were published under the auspices of the Asiatic Society: Charles Wilkins ̕translations of the Bhagavad Gita and Hitopadesa, William Jones ̕versions of Kalidasas̕ Sakuntala and Jayadevas̕ Gitagovinda, and translations of the Meghaduta and Visnupurana by Horace Wilson, who was to become the first professor of Sanskrit at Oxford in 1832. The collection also includes H.T. Colebrookes̕ very influential Essays on Indian religion and philosophy, an English translation of Friedrich Schlegels ̕Über die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier, a digest of Francis Gladwins̕ Asiatick Miscellany, and the English artist William Hodges ̕interesting account of Indian antiquities in his Travels in India during the years 1780-3. Although many of these Indian classics have been repeatedly translated since, it was these versions that were widely read in Europe towards the end of the eighteenth century and were to exert such a profound influence on western thought and culture, especially on the comparative and historical study of language, religion and mythology, ("Indo-Aryan", "Indo-Germanic"; Bopp, Grimm, Creuzer), philosophy (Schelling, Schopenhauer), and literature (Goethe, Herder, the Schlegels, Schiller, Novalis, Rückert, Emerson, Southey, Coleridge, etc.).

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