31 July 2007
AN EMPIRE OF BOOKS: The Naval Kishore Press and the Diffusion of the Printed Word in Colonial India, by Ulrike Stark
The history of the book and the commercialization of print in the nineteenth century remain largely uncharted areas in South Asia. This major monograph on the legendary Naval Kishore Press of Lucknow (est. 1858)—then the foremost publishing house in the subcontinent—represents something of a breakthrough. It analyses an Indian publisher’s engagement in the field of cultural production with a detail and rigour hitherto unknown.
Describing early centres and pioneers of print in North India, the author traces the coming of the book in Hindi and Urdu. The career of Munshi Naval Kishore (1836–95) is viewed as exemplifying the publisher’s rise to prominence in the colonial public sphere. Ulrike Stark examines the publishing house in its roles as commercial enterprise and intellectual centre. Against a backdrop of cultural, social, and economic developments, she analyses the production of scholarly and popular books, identifying the contributions of individuals associated with the press.
Hardback / 606 pp / Rs 795 / ISBN 81-7824-196-X / Published in October 2007