As the first principal work of Elizabeth Hamilton, renowned woman novelist in the Romantic Period, her Translation of the Letters of a Hindoo Rajah has received renewed scholarly attention in recent years on its engagement with feminism and imperialism, especially since the publication of Edward Said's influential Orientalism. This paper explores the use of satire arising from the conflicting views advanced by Hamilton's fictional Hindu letter-writers on their travels in India and Britain. Hamilton modified the well-known device of the pseudo-Oriental letters popularized by Montesquieu so as to offer an oblique critique of contemporary British society as well as to address the questions of British India and Indian civilization. While her Hindu characters are made to support British rule of India, her work's satire of the ubiquitous human folly cuts across any simple binaries of Britons and Hindus. With its specific concerns about imperialism, however, the critical authority of these imaginary Hindus became more limited as Eastern civilizations were increasingly subject to more critical judgment. Hamilton's distinctive remodeling of pseudo-Oriental letters exemplifies British Orientalism in transition, which is particularly remarkable in the work's dual focus on Britain and India, and in the transforming relations between its British and Hindu protagonists.
KEY WORDS: Orientalism, Persian Letters, epistolary novel, satire, the Romantic Period
《英譯一位印度王公的書信》是伊莉莎白〃漢米爾頓 這位浪漫時期有名女小說家的首部主要作品。自從薩伊德 影響深遠的《東方主義》出版之後，近年來學者們尤其著 重探討漢米爾頓此作品與女性主義和帝國主義的關係。本 文著眼漢米爾頓的虛構印度寫信者們對英國與印度互有 出入的各種觀感，探究此作品複雜微妙的諷刺意涵。漢米 爾頓改寫因孟德斯鳩而風行一時的虛擬東方信，以對英國 社會做出批判，並處理英屬印度及印度文明等議題。雖然 她令這些虛構的印度人表明對英國統治印度的支持，作品 本身對普遍人性弱點的批評跨越了英國和印度人種的簡 單二元對立。然而由於本作品與帝國主義明確的關聯，在 當時東方文明聲望江河日下的同時，其印度角色批判的權 威也變得更受限。漢米爾頓對虛擬東方信獨特的改寫與詮 釋體現了轉變中的英國東方主義，這個趨勢在本作品印度 與英國的雙焦點，以及英國與印度角色間變動的關係尤為 明顯。