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The Hindi Public Sphere 1920–1940Language and Literature in the Age of Nationalism$
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Francesca Orsini

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780198062202

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198062202.001.0001

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Language, Literature, and Publicity

Language, Literature, and Publicity

(p.125) Chapter 2 Language, Literature, and Publicity
The Hindi Public Sphere 1920–1940

Francesca Orsini

Oxford University Press

Since the nineteenth century, language and literature had been the subject of intense debates about the progress and reform of India. In the context of Hindi, such arguments gave rise to a cultural identification with the language, over a wide geographical area and in opposition to Urdu, English, and to earlier multiple linguistic saṃskāras. The growing support for Hindi, along with its politicization in the 1920s on the wave of Mahatma Gandhi's nationalism, suddenly made the question of a national language (rāṣṭrabhāṣā) appear plausible and even urgent. The provincial contest between scholars of Hindi and Urdu became an issue of national politics. This chapter examines how the nationalist perspective influenced Hindi debates on language and literature and on the role of the writer, how Hindi intellectuals reacted to the new publicity of the literary sphere, and the publicity and evaluation of Hindi literature based on prizes, popularity, and criticism.

Keywords:   India, Hindi language, Urdu, saṃskāras, Mahatma Gandhi, nationalism, national language, Hindi intellectuals, literary sphere, Hindi literature

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