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Sir William Jones and Representations of Hinduism in British Poetry, 1784-1812

By Kurt A Johnson


This thesis examines the representations of Hinduism in Romantic poetry from 1784 to 1812, using as case studies the poetry of Sir William Jones, William Blake, Robert Southey and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The study argues that Jones’ sympathetic and syncretic representations of Hinduism in his nine ‘Hymns’ to Hindu deities (1784-1789) influenced the use of Hinduism within the works of these later Romantic poets. It is interested in the way in which Blake, Southey, and Shelley use Hinduism, by way of Jones, to represent, react to, and recontextualise geopolitical and religious issues relative to the French Revolution and the expansion of the British Empire, as well as the rise of an evangelical, missionary, and dissenting culture highly influential to the period. By examining these four poets, the study traces the representation of Hinduism in relation to the shifting geopolitical and religious debates occurring throughout the period – and the way in which such representations subsequently contribute to the emergence of what we now call Romantic literature

Publisher: English and Related Literature (York)
Year: 2010
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