A Princely Impostor?: The Strange and Universal History of the Kumar of Bhawal

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9780691090306: A Princely Impostor?: The Strange and Universal History of the Kumar of Bhawal


In 1921 a traveling religious man appeared in eastern British Bengal. Soon residents began to identify this half-naked and ash-smeared sannyasi as none other than the Second Kumar of Bhawal--a man believed to have died twelve years earlier, at the age of twenty-six. So began one of the most extraordinary legal cases in Indian history. The case would rivet popular attention for several decades as it unwound in courts from Dhaka and Calcutta to London.


This narrative history tells an incredible story replete with courtroom drama, sexual debauchery, family intrigue, and squandered wealth. With a novelist's eye for interesting detail, Partha Chatterjee sifts through evidence found in official archives, popular songs, and backstreet Bangladeshi bookshops. He evaluates the case of the man claiming, with the support of legions of tenants and relatives, to be the long-lost Kumar. And he considers the position of the sannyasi's detractors, including the colonial government and the Kumar's young widow, who resolutely refused to meet the man she denounced as an impostor.


Along the way, Chatterjee introduces us to a fascinating range of human character, gleans insights into the nature of human identity, and examines the relation between scientific evidence, legal truth, and cultural practice. The story he tells unfolds alongside decades of Indian history. Its plot is shaped by changing gender and class relations and punctuated by critical historical events, including the onset of World War II, the Bengal famine of 1943, and the Great Calcutta Killings. And by identifying the earliest erosion of colonialism and the growth of nationalist thinking within the organs of colonial power, Chatterjee also gives us a secret history of Indian nationalism.


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From the Back Cover:


"Princely Impostor is spell-binding narrative history--as gripping as a novel by Charles Dickens--that presents a vivid portrait of life in Bengal during the first half of the twentieth century. In addition, Chatterjee unobtrusively reflects on narrative history, historical truth, and the meanings of personal identity. A superbly written, thoroughly engrossing, provocative, and informative book."--Richard Bernstein


"This is the first scholarly rendering of the incredible tale of the Bhawal sannyasi. Its strengths and contributions are many. Chatterjee's gripping story offers a fascinating portrait of a colonial society. It also wonderfully demonstrates the historian's craft as a narrator, keeping the reader glued to the page."--Gyan Prakash, author of Another Reason


"This extraordinary book represents an immensely valuable addition to the literature on South Asia. It will have great influence both within and outside of the academy and will soon be regarded as a classic."--Amitav Ghosh, author of The Glass Palace


About the Author:

Partha Chatterjee is Director and Professor of Political Science at the Center for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, and Visiting Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. He is the author of many books, including Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World and The Nation and Its Fragments (Princeton). He is also a founding member of the editorial collective Subaltern Studies as well as a playwright and essayist in Bengali.

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Chatterjee, Partha
Published by Princeton Univ Press (2002)
ISBN 10: 0691090300 ISBN 13: 9780691090306
New Hardcover First Edition Quantity Available: 3
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Book Description Princeton Univ Press, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. No Jacket. 1st Edition... New/Unused/Unmarked/Unopened from the Publisher. In the Original Shrink-Wrap. No Dust Jackets Issued/Khaki Color Cloth Over Boards. Hardcover Edition. Books are Intact. Not a Remainder, Return, or Previously Owned. U.S. Domestic Tracking/Confirmation Included. Via USPS, Will Ship International, APO/FPO/DPO, PO Boxes, all US 50 States/Territories, Priority and please inquire for Express. All orders are packed carefully/securely, with packing materials to help with quality control, so you may receive your order as described or better, and shipped directly from our facility to provide fast/personal service. We do our best to ship before expected shipping date and provide honest descriptions. [Note: Residential/Office Deliveries- Please give details on your order how you would like your package left so we may help prevent loss. Once USPS confirms delivery, we are no longer responsible for the item.] Please contact us anytime for assistance. Thank you for your business! Language: eng Language: eng Language: eng. Bookseller Inventory # ABE-682265977

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