chapter  7
Connecting Eighteenth-Century India: Orientalism, Della Cruscanism, and the Translocal Poetics of William and Anna Maria Jones
Pages 20

In this essay, I examine the translocal relationships of two authors who were essential to the growing literary scene of Calcutta: the orientalist scholar and jurist William Jones, and the pseudonymous “Anna Maria,” whose collection of poems

provoked celebrations from Calcutta reviewers about the vibrancy of British Bengal’s literary culture. Jones was an orientalist, linguist, author, and jurist who arrived in Calcutta from England to take up a position on the Supreme Court of Bengal.4 He often connected his duties in India to his experience as a Welshman advocating for a degree of Welsh autonomy within Britain and a return to the liberties of the English constitution that he felt had been eroded by tyrannical government. While in Calcutta, he composed imitations of Sanskrit hymns and wrote numerous letters about the nature of British dominion over India asserting that India’s native inhabitants should be governed by their own laws.5 At the same time, a woman writing under the name of Anna Maria published a collection of poetry to acclaim in Calcutta, before subsequently selling it in London. Paired here because of their creation of translocal literary and cultural identities that define the “new institutions of sociality” of late eighteenth-century British Bengal, they may have been even closer than we think: the poems of Anna Maria have typically been attributed to Anna Maria Jones, William Jones’s wife, who accompanied him to India in 1784.6 While the debate about the identity of “Anna Maria” continues, their translocalism results, I argue, from the interpenetration of seemingly antithetical spaces and extended temporalities. They pursue these translocal relationships to understand the significance of British colonialism in India and their role within it.