Confessions of a Thug

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2024-01-26
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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'I fear that I have often wearied you by the minute relation of my history; but I have told all, nor concealed from you one thought, one feeling, much less any act which at this distance of time I can remember. Possibly you may have recorded what may prove fearfully interesting to your friends. If it be so, your end is answered; you have given a faithful portrait of a Thug's life, his ceremonies, and his acts; whist I am proud that the world will know of the deeds and adventures of Ameer Ali, the Thug.'

Often overshadowed by Kipling's Kim or Forster's A Passage to India, Philip Meadows Taylor's forgotten classic, Confessions of a Thug (1839), is nevertheless the most influential novel of early nineteenth-century British India.

This was the first dramatic account to expose a European readership to the fantastic world of the murderous Thugs, or highway robbers, who strangled their victims and who have ever since been a stable of Western popular culture. Writing in the voice of a captured Thug, Taylor presents an Orientalist fantasy that is part picaresque adventure and part colonial exposé. Confessions of a Thug offers a unique glimpse of the colonial world in the making, revealing how the British imagined themselves to be omniscient and in complete control of their Indian subjects. This unique critical edition makes available a fascinating and significant work of Empire writing, in addition to excerpts from the original colonial texts that inspired Taylor's narrative.

Author Biography

Philip Meadows Taylor

Kim A. Wagner is Professor of Global and Imperial History at Queen Mary, University of London. He completed a Ph.D. on the subject of 'Thuggee' at the University of Cambridge in 2003, supervised by the late Professor Sir Christopher Bayly. His research is situated at the cusp of Imperial and Global
history, focussing on knowledge, crime and resistance in British India, and on colonial violence and warfare in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. His publications include Thuggee: Banditry and the British in Early Nineteenth-Century India (Palgrave, 2007); Stranglers and Bandits: A
Historical Anthology of Thuggee (OUP India, 2009); The Great Fear of 1857: Rumours, Conspiracies and the Making of the Indian Uprising (Peter Lang, 2010); The Skull of Alum Bheg: The Life and Death of a Rebel of 1857 (Hurst/OUP/Penguin, 2017); and Amritsar 1919: An Empire of Fear and the Making of a
Massacre (Yale, 2019).

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