Colonial Medicine and Cholera: Historicizing Victorian Medical Debates in J.G. Farrell’s <em>The Siege of Krishnapur</em>

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Prashant Maurya
Nagendra Kumar


The present paper examines the use and description of colonial medicine for cholera and its practices in J.G. Farrell’s historical novel, The Siege of Krishnapur (1973). The paper shows that by engaging the two doctors stationed at the British residency in Krishnapur in a debate, Farrell contextualises an episode in British medical history to foreground popular medical beliefs on the aetiology of cholera and its treatment prevalent in nineteenth century Britain. The paper then argues that Farrell’s critique of an outdated medicinal theory and welcoming of the scientific future of colonial medicine simultaneously is an attempt to reinstate the position of “civilised medicine” in colonial India. It further establishes a vital link between Farrell and cholera by bringing in contemporary contexts, and discusses how cholera served as a dual tool to not only satisfy his compulsive interest in disease and doctors but also his aspirations for historical creativeness.


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