Cold War Genres

Local and International in Hindi Literature

By Gregory Goulding

Subjects: Asian Literature, India And South Asian Studies, Comparative Literature, Literary History
Hardcover : 9781438499598, 240 pages, October 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-10-01

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Argues that the post-independence period was a unique era of literary experimentation in Hindi literature, which must be read in the contexts of both local and global cultural, social, and literary history.


Cold War Genres explores post-independence Hindi literature, framing it within the sociopolitical backdrop of Nehruvian India during the early Cold War. The book underscores the pivotal role of Hindi's claims to be a national language following independence, which fostered a unique moment of literary innovation. Central to its narrative is the work of Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh, a pivotal figure in modern South Asian literature. Using Muktibodh's poetry, criticism, and fiction as a primary example, the book shows how literary form shapes a response to the internal contradictions of 1950s India, one that must be read in light of both the antinomies of Hindi literature and North India as well as the aesthetic debates and emerging ideas of global space during this time. Cold War Genres therefore functions as a lens to evaluate questions of genre and form shared by a range of literary cultures in the mid-twentieth-century decolonizing world. This book features extensive translations from Muktibodh's poetry and prose, including full translations of two poems "Brahmarākṣas" (The Brahman Demon) and "Aṃdhere meṃ" (In the Dark).

Gregory Goulding is Assistant Professor in the Department of South Asia Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.


"Gregory Goulding boldly intervenes in global modernist studies, making a case for Hindi literature's contradictory internationalism through his nuanced exploration of the towering poet Muktibodh's work and reception. Moving across Hindi and Marathi, Goulding tracks the multilingual emergence of the Hindi long poem and illuminates, for the first time, how this genre functioned as a crucial node for navigating Cold War realism–modernism divides and the contestations they raised about the functions of prose and poetry." — Preetha Mani, Rutgers University, New Burnswick

"Cold War Genres is part of an important and ongoing effort to recognize the cosmopolitanism of regional Indian literatures that have long been ignored by literary scholars under the shadow of Anglophone writing. Goulding engages Hindi literary history, global literary politics, and debates around literary form, realism, and the 'proper' aims of literature. The field is in need of these sorts of nuanced scholarly treatments of vernacular literary histories and archives in India that trace the particular pathways of transnational political and aesthetic exchange." — Laura Brueck, Northwestern University

"Cold War Genres provides an astute and historically contextualized reading of Muktibodh and his reception, working across the genres of his writing. The scholarship is sound and insightful, and the readings of Muktibodh's poetry are innovative and contribute greatly to our understanding of one of modern Hindi's most alluring poets." — A. Sean Pue, Michigan State University