Styling the Other: Hazlitt's 'The Indian Jugglers'

Natarajan, Uttara. 2022. Styling the Other: Hazlitt's 'The Indian Jugglers'. In: Charlotte Grant and Alistair Robinson, eds. Cultures of London: Legacies of Migration. London: Bloomsbury. [Book Section] (Forthcoming)

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Abstract or Description

Nowhere in Hazlitt’s essays is the spectacular cosmopolitanism of London life more vividly brought to life than ‘The Indian Jugglers’, first published in his celebrated anthology, Table-Talk (1821). Here, Hazlitt’s powerful argument for the superiority of intellectual endeavour to mechanical skill takes off from his awed response to a juggling act, performed by Indian entertainers at the Olympic Theatre on the Strand. The jugglers’ skill exposes, to Hazlitt, the inadequacy of lesser performances, including his own essays. But as he probes this inadequacy, the essayist’s attitude modulates from deprecation to celebration of the infinite striving of the intellect, which is found after all to surpass the merely limited perfection achievable by physical dexterity. The contrast is embodied in the essay, not only in its manifest content, but also, and most memorably, in its style: as it renders the jugglers’ extraordinary feat, Hazlitt’s prose replicates and matches it, outshining visual spectacle by verbal performance. In this way, the Indian presence in London in the Regency era is richly inscribed in the prose of the great English essayist.

Item Type:

Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature

Dates:

DateEvent
24 September 2021Accepted
2022Published

Item ID:

31540

Date Deposited:

01 Mar 2022 09:29

Last Modified:

01 Mar 2022 09:29

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/31540

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