Writing fiction, living history: Kanhaiyalal Munshi's historical trilogy

Shvetal Vyas Pare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Kanhaiyalal Munshi was a pre-eminent Gujarati author, freedom fighter and politician. A member of the Indian National Congress and a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, he is credited with having developed and popularized the concept of Gujarat ni asmita, or Gujarati self-consciousness. This paper focusses on a trilogy of Munshi's historical fiction namely Patan Ni Prabhuta (The Glory of Patan) (1916), Gujarat No Nath (The Master of Gujarat) (1917-1918) and Rajadhiraj (The King of Kings) (1922). This paper offers a close reading of these texts, to argue that the trilogy offers the possibility of opening up notions of Gujarati identity, and of showing its constructed nature. Munshi's engagement with the ideas of politics, heroism and nation-building reflects the concerns of a movement that is trying to understand both itself and the nation that it is in the process of imagining. Highlighting the subversion of the texts is an attempt to stretch the boundaries of Gujarati identity, and think differently about the meaning of being Gujarati.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)596-616
Number of pages21
JournalModern Asian Studies
Issue number3
Early online date4 Jun 2013
Publication statusPublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


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