“[A] rare piece of scholarly detective work.” —Margaret Mills, Ohio State University
In Quest of Indian Folktales publishes for the first time a collection of northern Indian folktales from the late 19th century. Reputedly the work of William Crooke, a well-known folklorist and British colonial official, the tales were actually collected, selected, and translated by a certain Pandit Ram Gharib Chaube. In 1996, Sadhana Naithani discovered this unpublished collection in the archive of the Folklore Society, London. Since then, she has uncovered the identity of the mysterious Chaube and the details of his collaboration with the famous folklorist. In an extensive four-chapter introduction, Naithani describes Chaube’s relationship to Crooke and the essential role he played in Crooke’s work, as both a native informant and a trained scholar. By unearthing the fragmented story of Chaube’s life, Naithani gives voice to a new identity of an Indian folklore scholar in colonial India. The publication of these tales and the discovery of Chaube’s role in their collection reveal the complexity of the colonial intellectual world and problematize our own views of folklore in a postcolonial world.