‘Pure and Mixed’ in East India: Gerasim Lebedev’s Intercultural Enthusiasms





pre-Victorian Bengali theatre, interculturality, Gerasim Lebedev, Goloknath Das, Russian Indology, Sir William Jones


This article attempts to delineate and plot the contours of the intercultural contributions of Gerasim Lebedev in a linguistic-cultural domain totally alien to him, in early-colonial Calcutta. It also seeks to contextualise the intense polysemy between ‘microcosmic’ personal and literary journeys and the ‘cosmopolitan’ acculturation that came with Lebedev’s socio-cultural background and travels. Though, as will be seen in the essay, Lebedev’s pathbreaking maverick effort was largely a shot in the dark, his achievement is seen, in almost the entire theatrical fraternity in West Bengal and Bangladesh, in terms that can be described as larger than life. The essay will seek to understand the extent to which Lebedev’s personal and professional choices reflected deep cross-cultural sympathies, thus making him an enthusiast with a difference.

PlumX Metrics of this article


Banham, M. 2000. The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Brandon, J. R. 2002. The Cambridge Guide to Asian Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bhabha, H. K. 2004. The Location of Culture. Oxford: Routledge.

Chakrabarti, A. K. 1989. Bhāratpremik Liyebedeph (Lebedev: a Lover of India). Calcutta.

Chakrabarti, G. 2012. The Bhadralok as Truth-Seeker: Towards a Social History of the Bengali Detective. Cracow Indological Studies, Vol. XIV: 255–68.

Chakrabarty, D. 2008. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Chatterji, S. K. 1988. Foreword. In: H. Lebedeff. A Grammar of the Pure and Mixed East Indian Dialects. Calcutta: Firma KLM.

Kopf, D. 1979. The Brahmo Samaj and the Shaping of the Modern Indian Mind. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.

Lawson, Ph. 1993. The East India Company: a History. London: Longman.

Lebedev, G. 1801. A Grammar of Pure and Mixed East Indian Dialects. London: J. Skirven (Printer).

Mamud, H. 1995. Gerasim Liebedef. Calcutta: Paścim Banga Nātya Akādemi (West Bengal Academy of Drama).

Senelick, L. 2012. Russian Enterprise, Bengali Theatre, and the Machinations of the East India Company. New Theatre Quarterly, 28: 20–29.

Vanyashova, M. 2002. Мельпомены ярославские сыны: Волков, Дмитриевский, Лебедев (Sons of Yaroslavl Melpomene: Volkov, Dmitrievsky, Lebedev). Yaroslavl: Aleksandr Rutman.

Whittaker, C. H. 1978. The Impact of the Oriental Renaissance in Russia: The Case of Sergej Uvarov. Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas, Neue Folge, Bd. 26, H. 4 (Franz Steiner Verlag): 503–24.

Zbavitel, D. 1976. Bengali Literature. Vol. IX, A History of Indian Literature. J. Gonda (ed.). Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.




How to Cite

Chakrabarti, Gautam. 2015. “‘Pure and Mixed’ in East India: Gerasim Lebedev’s Intercultural Enthusiasms”. Cracow Indological Studies 17 (December):115. https://doi.org/10.12797/CIS.17.2015.17.06.