Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hunting and wilderness writings

Punch lampooning sport-hunters
A query from a friend led me to look for old hunting literature from India and the list (excluding the better known Corbett / Anderson works) of materials available on the Internet Archive turned out to be quite long. It is interesting how perceptions of hunting differed even in the pre-conservation era. As early as 1910 Punch magazine had lampooned hunting literature.

Hunting in India was used almost as an incentive for recruiting young and adventurous lads into the service of the East India Company. Sramek (2006) gives a good summary of how hunting merged into ideas of masculinity, bravery, superiority, morality, and so on. Hunting was supposed to build "character". According to Henry Shakespear, hunting would make the sons of the British readers not only "fit for their duty as soldiers," but would also prevent them from "tak[ing] to the gaming-table, or to an excess of feasting, rioting ... debauchery" and other "frivolous pursuits or effeminate pleasures".

Sramek, Joseph (2006) "Face Him like a Briton": Tiger Hunting, Imperialism, and British Masculinity in Colonial India, 1800-1875. Victorian Studies 48(4):659-680.

Here is an index (will be updated now and then) of material from the Internet Archive related to hunting, natural history and wilderness from India.  This skips material that lacks a personal narrative such as the numerous other works focusing on fauna or flora. It would seem that India was far wilder and exciting when travel was tougher.

The following are not primarily on aspects of Indian wilderness but are included here (mainly for personal research).
PS: Apparently there was a journal called "The Indian Field" whose editor for a while was a W. Burke. This unfortunately is not readily found in Indian libraries and hopefully someone will find it and digitize it for the Internet Archive. Another serial was the "Indian Sporting Review".
23-Jan-2014 - subsequent to the comment by Milan Mandal - I have added some Kenneth Anderson, Jim Corbett and R.G. Burton books, the archive links are however a little problematic as some could represent material still in copyright. The Internet Archive claims that they can hold it as they are registered as a library in the United States of America, however this might not stand in the courts of some other countries.
12-Dec-2014 - Ameen Ahmed mailed me a list of online sources that he had found which led to some additions.
1-Mar-2017 - there is another bibliography here - Stockum, C.M. (1914) Sport. Attempt at a bibliography of books and periodicals published during 1890-1912. New York: Dodd & Livingston.

1 comment:

  1. Very, very interesting Shyamal. I'm a fan of hunting (or as I prefer to call them - shikar) literature and a quick reading shows I have three of these books. Ideally I want them all and now I can read them online. If only I could get them as proper books - nothing beats the pleasure of a good book in hand.

    Can't thank you enough for this list - priceless for me.