This collection of essays on the conceptualisation and representation of nature and time and their interrelationship in literature and the visual arts is written by scholars both from western academia and India, scholars who are established experts in their field as well as young critics making an early foray in the world of scholarly research. In addition, there is an essay by a practising artist meditating on nature and time through self-portraits. The contributors come from a wide variety of locations: India, Australia, Norway, Spain and the United States of America. The scope of the book is large: it encompasses not only the literature and art of Europe from the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries, it also includes an examination of the art and literature of the Indian sub-continent. The verbal and visual genres examined are manifold: epyllion, comedy, epic, satire, children’s fiction, travelogue, painting, sculpture, frontispiece, engraving, miniature, book illustration, cartoon, photograph. This book is a bold attempt to break down the isolation of the two disciplines, literature and the visual arts, and to make parallelism an exploratory method aimed at a mutually enriching synthesis. Since ideas and tendencies acquire an irreducibly concrete life in artistic representation, examination of the same life in two different art forms deepens our understanding of it as well as of the larger issues and contexts in which the literary and visual texts are embedded. While this is a collection of scholarly essays, there is enough here to interest the lay reader. A conscious effort has been made to eschew jargon and to make the style as clear and accessible as possible without in any way diluting the content. The addition of a number of valuable full-colour plates accessed from museums as diverse as the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels; the Vatican Pinacotheca and the Victoria and Albert Museum will add to the reader’s pleasure.
Shormishtha Panja is a Professor of English, University of Delhi. She was till recently Head, Department of English and Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Delhi. She is the President of the Shakespeare Society of India. She has taught at Stanford University. Her publications include Many Indias, Many Literatures: New Critical Essays (1999, Second edition 2001, reprinted 2004), Critical Theory Textual Application (2002) Signifying the Self: Women and Literature (2004, reprinted 2007). She has published numerous essays on Renaissance studies, gender studies, literature and the visual arts and Indian literature in international journals and collections. She is the founder member of PEHEL: Delhi University Women’s Support Group.
Shirshendu Chakrabarti is a Professor of English at the University of Delhi. He was an Inlaks Scholar at Trinity College, Oxford and has a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford. His interests lie in English literature from the Renaissance to the Eighteenth Century; European intellectual history, literature and the visual arts; Modern English poetry; Modern Bengali literature; Translation. And he has published on Jonathan Swift, Montaigne, George Herbert, Shelley, T.S. Eliot, Tagore. Tagore translations for the Oxford Tagore. Two volumes of poetry in Bangla from Ananda Publishers. Annotated edition of Congreve’s The Way of the World, Orient Blackswan.
Christel Devadawson, Reader in the Department of English, University of Delhi, was a Cambridge Nehru Scholar for her Ph. D. She has studied and taught at St Stephen’s College where she went on to head the English Department. As Westcott Memorial Lecturer at the University of Cambridge, she has lectured at the universities of Cambridge, Birmingham, Leicester and Warwick. Her writings include Reading India, Writing England: The Fiction of Rudyard Kipling and E. M. Forster, edited versions A Passage to India, Jane Eyre and (with G K Das) a collection of critical essays on A Passage to India. She has just directed a film on the history of South Campus, Delhi University.