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Govind Narayan's Mumbai

An Urban Biography from 1863

Edited and Translated by Murali Ranganathan, with a Foreword by Gyan Prakash

Govind Narayan's Mumbai

The first ever book on Mumbai written in the Marathi language, this is a historically fascinating and revealing urban biography of nineteenth-century India.

Imprint: Anthem Press
ISBN 9781843312772
March 2008 | 407 Pages | 234 x 155mm / 9.2 x 6.1 | 16+ photographs
PRICE:  £70.00  /  $115.00  Buy from Amazon.co.uk  Buy from Amazon.com

About This Book

‘A good read for anyone interested in understanding what makes Bombay Mumbai’ —Frederick Noronha, ‘Navhind Times’

'Essential: Ranganathan has done everyone interested in Indian history, and in Mumbai in particualr, a great service by translating and editing Govind Narayan's 1863 masterpiece… An explanatory foreword from noted historian Gyan Prakash rounds out the translation of this indispensable 19th century text.' —S. L. Hoglund, ‘Choice’

Ramanathan’s brief biography and bibliography add to the value of this window on nineteenth century Bombay, and his inclusion of photographs of the mid-nineteenth century aptly illustrate some of Govind Narayan’s observations. In all, this is a valuable resource for those who wish to explore urban life in mid-nineteenth century India through the eyes of a sharp and knowledgeable observer.' —Janaki Nai, Professor of History at the Centre of Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata, in ‘Studies in History’

The expansion of Mumbai over the last four centuries has been documented in great detail by both contemporary writers and historians, yet this narrative stands out as an alternative, unique and authentic voice. Quite simply, it is a book about the city like no other. Govind Narayan’s ‘Mumbaiche Varnan’ was the first full account of Mumbai in any language, written just before the explosive growth and renovation of the city.

Guiding the reader on a tour of the sights and sounds of an emerging city struggling to shake off colonialism and wrestling with the formation of its own budding identity, Narayan’s beguiling book offers descriptions of Mumbai’s daily life, its people and its institutions: the parts of the whole that come together to create this diverse and vivacious place. In addition to a detailed structural overview, the author provides a ground level account of the street life and market places rife with gambling and criminal activity. In every sense, this valuable text is a rare and enthralling glimpse into a fascinating period and place otherwise lost to time.

Translated into English for the first time, and fully illustrated and with a detailed glossary and biography of the author, this edition does full justice to this remarkable historical document.

Readership: A key title for students of South Asian literature and history, and for anyone enthralled by classic travel literature and the emergence of urban biography.

Author Information

Govind Narayan (1815–1865) was one of the leading authors of his age, producing a series of original books that were principally designed to strengthen the moral fibre.

Murali Ranganathan lives and works in Mumbai. After having worked in various jobs, Murali turned to research. ‘Govind Narayan's Mumbai’ is his first publication.

Gyan Prakash is Professor of History at Princeton University.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations; Acknowledgements; Foreword by Gyan Prakash; Introduction; Govind Narayan: A Preliminary Bio-Bibliography; Govind Narayan’s Mumbai; Notes to the Text; Biographical Index of Mumbai Men of the Nineteenth Century; Descriptive Index of Mumbai Institutions of the Nineteenth Century; Bibliography; Glossary; Index; Map