A diversity of discursive formations in the vernacular flourish on the margins of history, and even outside it. To better understand these formations, particularly in postcolonial societies such as India, I argue that it is important to eschew the sole use of the lens of veracity. I explore alternative lenses through which to more fruitfully examine historical narratives in the vernacular: the contrast between the â€œhistorical pastâ€ and the â€œpractical past,â€ the complexities involved in cultural translation, and the lyrical and fictionalized nature of prior accounts of the past. I employ these alternative lenses to make sense of Gujarati author NandÅ›aá¹…kar Tuá¸·jÄÅ›aá¹…kar MehtÄ's use of the historical novel form in his pioneering historical work, Karaá¹‡ Ghelo, GujarÄtno chello RajpÅ«t rÄjÄ: ek vÄrtÄ (Karaá¹‡ the Crazy, Gujarat's Last Rajput King: A Story), the first novel written in Gujarati. Writing at a time when the demand for histories and history textbooks was burgeoning, MehtÄ made the curious choice to write a vÄrtÄ, or â€œstoryâ€â€”a choice that becomes more comprehensible when seen from the alternative perspectives I propose.
|Journal||History and Theory|
|Publication status||Published - 2021|