Delusions and Discoveries

Delusions and Discoveries:India in the British Imagination, 1880-1930

  • Paperback

A study of British attitudes towards India, written in the wake of the 1960s national liberation struggles. The text surveys the racist and jingoistic predjudices of Anglo-Indian writers such as Flora Annie Steele and Rudyard Kipling, and the work of more liberal thinkers such as E.M. Forster.

No cultural phenomenon of the 1970s and 1980s in Britain was more curious than the Raj revival, with its slew of films and fictions, its rage for memorabilia of imperial rule in India, and its strange nostalgia for a time and a world long since past. Today, with the arrival of so-called postcolonial studies, that revival lives on in a strange afterlife of critical study.
Writing some years before Raj nostalgia became all the rage, and out of the rather different political and intellectual climate of 1960s national liberation struggles, Benita Parry produced what remains one of the landmark studies of British attitudes towards India. Available for the first time in Paper, Delusions and Discoveries authoritatively surveys the mix of racist and jingoistic prejudices that dominated the writings of Anglo-Indians from Flora Annie Steele and Maud Diver to Kipling and beyond. The book also includes treatments of more liberal thinkers like Edmund Candler, Edward James Thompson and E. M. Forster, as well as a new preface by the author situating her work in relation to recent studies of the culture of colony and empire.


  • The reissuing and updating of Benita Parry's landmark book Delusions and Discoveries is of major importance for contemporary criticism. She was the first to study the significance of literature to the Raj's power, and is now also the first to incorporate, critique and amend the achievements and mistakes of recent postcolonial writing. As A superb interpretation of a special kind of literature, as well as of a new criticism, the revised version of Parry's book is a tremendous service to a whole range of readers, scholars and students.

    Edward W. Said