Shelley and the Development of English Imperialism: British India and England

Author: Harrington-Austin, Eleanor
This postcolonialist work locates Shelley in the context of England’s colonial venture in British India. It also ties together several major, seemingly disparate – and even competing - late-18th/early 19th-century discourses on British India, and illustrates how those discourses were later enlisted to serve the Imperialism of the English Raj. Shelley’s A Philosophical View of Reform, the guiding document of this study, demonstrates his knowledge of these debates and his own internalized contradictions concerning both English workers at home and Indian subjects abroad. Chapters include surveys of period issues of class, gender, race, and nationalism, their relationship to British India, and Shelley’s personal and literary treatment of them; English Orientalism concerning India and Indic elements in Shelley’s poetry; Utilitarian projects in India and England and Shelley’s reaction; Evangelical projects in India and England; Victorian imperialism.


“Based on extensive and meaningful research, the book is impressive in both scope and organization. The synthesis of so much diverse material makes a notable contribution to our understanding of the intellectual and cultural trends developing through the entire nineteenth century. . . . appraisal of Shelley and his relationship to these large trends is illuminating, remarkable for its fairness, good sense, and clarity; it will provide future students and scholars with new information, new insights, new ideas. The investigation of imperialism, its causes and effects, and the parallels between nineteenth and twentieth-century tendencies, give the study a further dimension, adding depth and significance for present-day readers. Sound in scholarship, substantial in subject, and effective in style, it’s a book which will be valuable for literary critics, historians, and all readers of Shelley.” – Muriel Mellown

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface and Introduction
1. India and the English Middle Class: New Groups, New Discourses, New Subjectivities: The Rise of the English Middle Class(es); New Subjectivities for All “Others” ; Shelley and Class; The Effeminate Indian “Other” and the English Female
2. Orientalist Discourses on India: James Mill and English and Other Orientalists; Shelley and Orientalism; Thomas Maurice and Darkening English Perceptions of the Indian “Other”
3. The Utilitarian Project – England and India: Development of English Utilitarianism; Shelley’s Defence of Poetry as Rejection of Utilitarianism
4. Evangelical Discourses - for England and India: Growth of Evangelicalism and Its Projects in England; Shelley on Christianity, the Historical Jesus, and English Missionaries into India; Shelley, Leigh Hunt, and English Expansion into India; Merging of Utilitarianism and Evangelicalism on the Indian Issue
5. Imperialistic Discourses for India and Home: Shelley’s Theory of History; English Imperialism and the Capitalist Middle Class; English Imperialism Abroad, Particularly in India – English Encroachment and Indian Resistance; English Imperialism at Home; Shelley, Imperialism, Tyranny, Reform, and Self-Reform
Notes, Bibliography