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