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Madly after the MusesBengali Poet Michael Madhusudan Datta and his Reception of the Graeco-Roman Classics$
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Alexander Riddiford

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199699735

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199699735.001.0001

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Conclusion: ‘Above all Greek, above all Roman Fame’ 1

Conclusion: ‘Above all Greek, above all Roman Fame’ 1

(p.189) Conclusion: ‘Above all Greek, above all Roman Fame’1
Madly after the Muses

Alexander Riddiford

Oxford University Press

The Conclusion brings together the most prominent themes from the previous chapters. Madhusudan’s reception of the Graeco-Roman classics turns consciously away from contemporary British canons of literary taste and back to the eighteenth-century British Augustans, especially Alexander Pope. This may be seen, in particular, in the Bengali poet’s surprising interest in Roman as well as Greek literature. Moreover, Madhusudan viewed the Sanskrit as well as the Graeco-Roman canons through the lens of early British Orientalist scholarship. This backwards gaze was contemporary with the deteriorating relationship between the British and their Indian subjects in the mid nineteenth century. Madhusudan’s emphatic interest in the Indo-European discourse is considered from the point of view of race and nationalism. Comparisons are made with later non-white readers of the Graeco-Roman classics, such as Derek Walcott and Wole Soyinka, and the significance of the book for emerging fields such as ‘black classicism’ is explored.

Keywords:   British Augustan, pope, Hellenism, nationalism, race, indo-european, black classicism, Walcott, soyinka

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