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Sacrifice and Modern War LiteratureThe Battle of Waterloo to the War on Terror$
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Alex Houen and Jan-Melissa Schramm

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198806516

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198806516.001.0001

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The Indian Mutiny and the Blood of Sacrifice

The Indian Mutiny and the Blood of Sacrifice

(p.49) 3 The Indian Mutiny and the Blood of Sacrifice
Sacrifice and Modern War Literature

Christopher Herbert

Oxford University Press

This chapter tracks the insistent imagery of blood sacrifice that stamps itself on contemporary writing about the Indian Mutiny of 1857–9, including histories, personal memoirs, and novels. Stressing the overwhelming representation of Evangelicals among both partisans of extreme measures to suppress the rebellion and, very consequentially, British field commanders during the war, the essay speculates on the reverberations that echo between the thematics of blood sacrifice in Mutiny discourse and the cult of sacrificial blood that manifests itself, often in religious hysteria, in such texts as Charles Wesley’s hymns. The crux of the analysis is the ambivalence in declarations that British victims of the atrocities were (to quote one historian of the time) ‘mercilessly sacrificed to sepoy vengeance’. Imaginative literature of the period explores the contradictions and complexities of this rhetoric of sacrifice and revenge, affirming, diluting, and experimenting with the Evangelical register.

Keywords:   Indian Mutiny, Protestestantism, Empire, revenge, sacrifice

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