Nationalist Identity in Postcolonial Bengali Literature (1850-Early 1900s)
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Identity is one of the central areas of interest in literature, particularly postcolonial literature. Postcolonial literature and literary theories deal with the issue of identity, the dimensions of identity and identity crisis of the postcolonial nations. As such, nationalist identity also occupies a very substantial part of literary works of postcolonial literature. Postcolonial literature bears witness to how nationalist identity of any particular region underwent changes and metamorphosed within the paradigm of colonialism. Postcolonial literature or literature of the colonial period then is a window into the past. It acts as one of the most significant sources for understanding the history and the present-day of the postcolonial world. This thesis looks into the emergence and formation of nationalist identity through postcolonial Bengali literature. The literary texts I have used as my primary texts extend over a period of seven decades, that is, 1850s to the early 1900 colonial Bengal. This roughly seven decades in the history of Bengal is of the most critical importance as this is the period in history that truly metamorphosed Bengal and the Bengali people into what it is today. This is the period that oversaw the emergence and formation of the Bengali nationalist identity. In this thesis, through the literary works of Pyarichand Mitra, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and Rabindranath Tagore I will be sketching a graph of the emergence, formation and development of nationalist identity in Bengal.