This novel is a designedly political document. Written at the time
of the Hastings impeachment and set in the period of Hastings's
Orientalist government, Hartly House, Calcutta (1789) represents a
dramatic delineation of the Anglo-Indian encounter. The novel
constitutes a significant intervention in the contemporary debate
concerning the nature of Hastings's rule of India by demonstrating
that it was characterised by an atmosphere of intellectual sympathy
and racial tolerance. Within a few decades the Evangelical and
Anglicising lobbies frequently condemned Brahmans as devious
beneficiaries of a parasitic priestcraft, but Phebe Gibbes's
portrayal of Sophia's Brahman and the religion he espouses
represent a perception of India dignified by a sympathetic and
tolerant attempt to dispel prejudice. -- .
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