The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

X. Anglo-Indian Literature

§ 5. Bankin Chandra Chatterji

Despite the spread of the knowledge of English among the educated classes of India, Indians wrote comparatively little that can be regarded as permanent additions to English literature. The adoption of English as the language of the universities had the altogether unexpected, though in every way desirable, result of revivifying the vernaculars. Stimulated by English literature and English knowledge, Bankim Chandra Chatterji, the first graduate of Calcutta university, created Bengali fiction. Under the influence of the works of Scott, he wrote successful historical novels, and followed these with novels of Indian social life. Bankim, undoubtedly, was the first creative genius who sprang from the Indian renascence brought about in the nineteenth century by the introduction of English education. But he deliberately turned his face away from all attempts to gain a reputation as an English writer. His younger rival, Romesh Chunder Dutt, sought fame in Bengali as a novelist, and, in English, as a historian, economist, novelist and poet. His Lays of Ancient India and his novels show him to have had a complete mastery of the technique of our language, and considerable imaginative power; but his history and his economics were sometimes too polemical for impartiality, and Romesh will live in literary history mainly as one who helped to create modern Bengali.

Ram Mohan Roy, as a pioneer of English education in India, Keshab Chandra Sen, as a religious propagandist, Kashinath Trimback Telang the Maratha, as a judge, scholar and translator, Bahramji Malabari the Parsi, as a social reformer, and hundreds of other Indians used our language for their own purposes almost as if it had been their mother tongue; but, of those who attempted imaginative literature in English, very few succeeded in writing anything of permanent interest. Michael Madhu Sadan Dutt lives by his Bengali poems rather than by his Captive Ladie, an attempt, so early as 1849, to tell in English verse the story of Prithwi Raj, king of Delhi. Malabari, besides ardently advocating social reforms through the medium of English writings, wrote The Indian Muse in English garb, with, however, indifferent success. Lal Behari Day’s Govinda Sámanta: or The History of a Bengal Ráiyat and his Folk Tales of Bengal were pieces of work well worth doing and competently carried out, though exhibiting ability rather than genius.