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in the United States is not only the history of middle-class suffragettes, reform-
ers, social workers, and well-known writers. Instead, she shows that the urban
working-class and poor and rural agricultural women had an impact (and much
to say) about their own rights and worked to create both a movement and a
community through nonmainstream periodicals that explored and developed
new ways of understanding women's sexuality and freedom. Passet's book will
invigorate other scholars to follow the research trails she has opened. There is
still much work to be done to show the importance of a print culture in radical
social movements. Further research is needed to show not only how this culture
was created but also who these women and men were and how the social and
cultural movements of the period combined to allow or offer a place to articu-
late and work out understandings of freedom and responsibility.

Jessica Moran, Emma Goldman Papers, UC Berkeley

Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia. Edited by Sheldon


Pollock. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. xxix, 1,066 pp. $80.00.
ISBN 0-520-22821-9.

Perhaps nowhere on earth are history, culture, language, and literature more in-
volved with each other than in South Asia—India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.
Why this is so goes back primarily to the fact that the study of language—Sanskrit—in
ancient India was the core of the intellectual tradition. Indian grammarians conceived
their ministrations on behalf of the Sanskrit language as a devotional. Their activity
was more akin to a priesthood, a calling, than it was a profession or an academic
pursuit. (The great Sanskrit grammarian Patanjali is sometimes depicted as a demi-
god—a coiled snake from the waist down, with a cobralike hood.)
Because of this extraordinary sacralization of language in the intellectual pan-
theon of India, all other areas of intellectual study such as literature, history,
epic, and myth were themselves dipped in spirituality, a spirituality made more
sublime by the basic conviction of Vedantism (Hinduism) that philosophical
dualism is profoundly wrong: all is seamless continuum, nothing is either-or,
black-and-white. All connects.
Something of that mindset and dedication to the uniting role of language in-
forms this very large book. Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South
Asia is written for the specialist, not the general reader. The essays are grouped
into five parts: "Globalizing Literary Cultures"; "Literature in Southern Locales";
"The Centrality of Borderlands" (note the characteristically Indian love of para-
dox); "Buddhist Cultures and South Asian Literatures"; and "The Twinned
Histories of Urdu and Hindi." Pieces I especially liked were "Sanskrit Literary
Culture from the Inside Out" by Sheldon Pollock; "The Two Histories of Liter-
ary Culture in Bengal" by Sudipta Kaviraj; "The Indian Literary Identity in
Tibet" by Matthew T. Kapstein; and "The Progress of Hindi, Parts 1 and 2" by
Stuart McGregor and Harish Trivedi.
One's heart sinks upon reading the opening sentence of the preface: "[This
book] originated in a research proposal consciously designed to implement a
new practice of scholarship in the service of new historiographical and theoreti-
cal objectives." To the ear trained to nuance in contemporary critical dialogue
(and now fatigued by it), that opening sentence suggests a heavy dose of Bourdieu
336 L&C/5ooA; Reviews

and Baudrillard and Terry Eagleton to follow. And yes, there is some of that, the
postmodern thing, here, but surprisingly little of it for a contemporary work of
scholarship on liistory, culture, and literature, especially in a "developing
world" area such as South Asia.
The result is an interesting assortment of essays that exemplify the best in
multidisciplinary scholarship. An impressive blend of disciplines, approaches,
and opinions inf^orms this collection: literary theory, linguistics, philology, poli-
tics, religion, and, refreshingly, an old-fashioned love of literature and language—
of the text. The preface makes clear that this was a seriously collective enterprise
in which each contributor had to confront criticisms from other contributors and
where in the end the editor did what editors of academic collections should do
but so rarely do: exercise editorial authority.
The prose of the contributions is happily free of the deadened academic jargon
of postmodernism: I hardly noticed tlie relatively few instances of "hegemony"
and "Orientalism" that insinuated themselves into the text. For this, of course, we
have the editor, Sheldon Pollock, to thank. Whatever his private view of postmodern
theory may be (I assume he is sympathetic to it, though a "postmodern Sanskritist"
is an oxymoron), we are grateful to him for minimizing its prominence in the es-
says that make up this book and thereby giving us a resource that is readable and
enjoyable to South Asianists beyond the narrow circle of inner postmodernism.
Nothing that eschews academic jargon can be all bad.
Old sins cast long shadows in the unforgiving sun of the Indian subcontinent.
There are few conflicts in Indian history that do not lay their skeletal hand on
the shoulder of today's events: Hindus vs. Muslims, center vs. periphery (in
domains ranging from politics to literature and the wearing of saris), Hinduism
vs. Buddhism, the Hindi language vs. the Urdu language, Sanskrit vs. the re-
gional vernaculars. It is the great merit of Literary Cultures in History: Reconstruc-
tions from South Asia that it casts much light on the shadows while not ignoring
the sins. It is a job well done.

Robert D. King, University of Texas at Austin

Libraries in India's National Developmental Perspectives: A Saga of Fifty Years since Inde-
pendence. By Mohamed Taher. New Delhi: Concept Publishing, 2001. .569 pp. $45.00/
Rs900-. ISBN 81-7022-842-5.

Mohamed Taher's book is the culmination of postdoctoral research done by


the author covering developments in India between 1947 and 1996. The work is
based on information and data gathered through extensive contact with the
people, visits to places, and the use of publications and unpubhshed sources on
policies, practices, and programs. His book primarily seeks to determine what
role the history of libraries plays in the society and proceeds from the assump-
tion that there are very user friendly libraries within postindependent Indian
society. He presents his ideas in the perspective of India's national development,
wherein the library forms a pillar of the national infrastructure on a par with
other sectors, including energy, health, food, and employment. This work offers
new perspectives for planners and decision makers.
India gained freedom from British rule in 1947, and the book tries to examine
what was achieved and what was not during the subsequent fifty years. Overall, the

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