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British India and Victorian Literary Culture$
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Máire ní Fhlathúin

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748640683

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748640683.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 20 September 2021

Consuming and Being Consumed

Consuming and Being Consumed

(p.55) Chapter 3 Consuming and Being Consumed
British India and Victorian Literary Culture

Máire ní Fhlathúin

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter traces the evolution of a discourse of consumption and predation throughout the Victorian period. The East India Company’s transformation from a commercial concern into a government was accompanied by intense public debate over its role in India, focusing on economic relationships of exploitation, and moral relationships of corruption. This debate crystallized around the impeachment of Warren Hastings (1788-1795). The ‘nabobs’ of the Company were represented as exploiting India and its residents for their own material gain, and simultaneously as themselves corrupted by contact with India. Their return to Britain gave rise to a sense that their moral and financial corruption was being imported into the British body politic. While this political moment quickly passed, the debate established the terms and metaphors – greed, excess, predation, and contamination – in which British people imagined their role in India, and India’s effect on them.

Keywords:   Consumption, Corruption, Excess, Contamination, Nabobs, East India Company

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