Colonial India in a Crusades Mirror: Fantasy and Reality in a Nineteenth-Century Urdu Novel

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Abstract

This article extends Georg Lukács’s theorization pertaining to historical fiction by considering a novel written in response to colonial conditions. It treats Abdulhalim Sharar’s Urdu Malik al-‘Aziz and Virginia (1888) as a case where a fictional version of the encounter between Muslims and Christians during the crusades in the twelfth century is used to counter the colonial Indian present in the nineteenth century. I suggest that novels such as Sharar’s exemplify a vein of global thought since the nineteenth century that resisted historicism but without abandoning the notion that the past was real. Deploying a genre that came to the fore in colonial conditions, Sharar imagines an alternative future by narrating the past otherwise via fiction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-432
Number of pages14
JournalSophia
Volume62
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Crusades
  • Historical fiction
  • India
  • Lukács
  • Sharar
  • Urdu

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