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Institutional Picaresque

The development of the new modernist studies of the past fifteen years has involved what we could term, to borrow a phrase that has circulated in the social sciences since the nineties, a “new institutionalism.”[1] This new institutionalism has moved along two tracks (particularly in the study of Anglophone modernism). On the one hand, literary-historical scholarship, operating along recognizably historicist/formalist lines, has elucidated the place of institutions in late-nineteenth- and twentieth-century literatures. For example, in Geopolitics and the Anglophone Novel, John Marx argues that literary fiction of the early twentieth century, through critical depictions of state institutions, “helped forecast a world after European imperialism by identifying problems with Empire’s administrative strategies and by laying the conceptual foundation necessary to generate new schemes.”[2] Such work illuminates how modernism emerged during, and expressed the anxieties of, the Age of (late) Empire, and how modernist works themselves depict, affirm, critique, incorporate and are shaped by state power, bureaucracy, the corporation, infrastructure, finance capital, and so on. On the other hand, scholars working in archives or drawing on the sociology of literature have developed robust accounts of the institutions of literature; see for one approach in this vein the “new disciplinary history” outlined by Laura Heffernan, as well as work appearing in this cluster, particularly Emma West’s account of the Empire Marketing Board, Michael McCluskey on the General Post Office, and Nissa Ren Cannon on the American Chamber of Commerce.[3] This work shows how modernist aesthetics and sensibilities inspired and were incorporated into the English departments, extension schools, advertising, publishing houses, museums, and imperial and government agencies, not only in the metropolitan centers but also in newly independent nations, that employed and funded writers and artists and put that modernist aesthetics to work in the market across the twentieth century.

These somewhat distinct bodies of scholarship, I would suggest, are most fruitfully read together, as they provide a map not only of how twentieth-century institutions produced literature, but also—and equally importantly—of how twentieth-century literature has thought about institutions. Especially useful ground on which to test this suggestion is the careers of writers and cultural workers who bridged the epochal divide of the Second World War and decolonization, often returning from sojourns in the metropolitan centers of modernism to their countries of origin to participate in the project of developing a postcolonial national literary culture. Such careers can be tough to place in standard periodization, as they evolved across very different literary and cultural economies in the pre- and postwar worlds. “Thinking institutionally” (to borrow terms from the political scientist Hugh Heclo) illuminates how such authors’ work both addressed life in modern institutions across mid-century and helped pave those same authors’ way through those institutions.[4]

The work of Mulk Raj Anand (1905-2004), whose writing and career were both shaped by the genre I will term “institutional picaresque,” illustrates the sorts of tactics writers employed to make their way in the institutions of literature.[5] Readers may be most familiar with Anand’s novels of the 1930s, particularly Untouchable (1935) and Coolie (1936), which have become significant entries in the canon of global modernism.[6] Critics have attended to these works’ left politics and Indian nationalism, and to Anand’s own story as an émigré to Bloomsbury, his connections to T. S. Eliot, E. M. Forster, and the Woolfs, and his work with George Orwell at the BBC.[7] Yet Anand labored prodigiously for nearly sixty years after decolonization and Indian independence, mainly as part of the Indian state’s cultural apparatus. Anand’s work demands practices of reading that are attentive both to literary form and to literature’s practical uses in the maintenance of an authorial career—to the opportunities, one might say, that literary writing presents to develop a brand. And his fiction frequently imagines, if only in fleeting moments, the conditions of accountability, support, and amelioration that might be found in modern institutions. In his essays and political writing, especially in the 1940s, Anand returns repeatedly to consider the conditions and practices that might, as he put it, “bring about the institutions which may produce a new order.”[8] His fiction was not only a report on those conditions and practices, or a formal symptom of its historical moment: literary form was a resource on which Anand drew to make his way in the institutions of culture, from Punjab to Bloomsbury to Bombay. The “institutional picaresque” that I suggest is the characteristic genre of Anand’s fiction, in which rebellious outsiders ultimately rely on or shore up the durable institutions on which their existence depends, was also a strategy of authorial self-presentation that allowed him to preserve his position in an international literary culture. What follows traces three episodes in this story.

Institutional Picaros

In June of 1936, Anand received a letter from John Lehmann, then-former (and future) managing editor of the Hogarth Press (fig. 1). Lehmann had read Anand’s novella “Lament on the Death of a Master of Arts,” and hoped to solicit fiction for his nascent magazine New Writing. While “Lament” was “of particular interest,” Lehmann noted, the novella was not “good enough to represent” Anand’s talent. “As you must have realized,” he wrote, “I am aiming at collecting writing that is realistic as far as possible . . .  I hope you either have, or will do for us, something to stand up to THE COOLIE [sic], for we badly need an Indian writer.”[9] The letter’s enthusiasm for Anand’s work seems to be contradicted by prompts it offers to further writing. Lehmann comments that the work should be “realistic,” which in the context of thirties Bloomsbury would connote “politically engaged” and “left”; at the same time, it should “represent you,” while also being representatively Indian (“we badly need an Indian writer”). These demands were of course typical of the pressures placed on nonwhite writers writing for a white British audience in the period. Lehmann’s insistence on “realism” from an Indian writer is entirely in keeping with Pascale Casanova’s argument that “the political dependence of emerging literary spaces is signaled by the recourse to a functionalist aesthetic and . . . the most conservative narrative, novelistic, and poetical forms.”[10] To make headway from this peripheral position, Anand would have approach New Writing highly self-conscious not only of his subject matter, but of how his literary output was intertwined with the creation of an authorial persona, and of the kinds of cultural capital that he was understood to possess as the sort of writer Lehmann understood him to be.

John Lehmann to Anand, June 26, 1936.
Fig. 1.  John Lehmann to Anand, June 26, 1936, Ransom Center Series: Letters.

The story Anand produced in response, “The Barber’s Trade Union,” appeared that fall in the second issue of New Writing, and exemplifies the themes and formal devices that Anand would modulate and employ in varied genres across his career to innovate in both the “realism” of his fiction and in his representation of himself (“you”) as a literary actor. The unnamed narrator of “The Barber’s Trade Union,” a version of the youthful Anand himself, recalls his childhood as a “high-caste boy” in a small village and tells the story of his best friend Chandu, the low-caste son of a barber, who adopts a succession of mischievous schemes to elevate his own position and embarrass the village elite.[11] First, Chandu acquires “a white turban, a white rubber coat (a little too big for him, but nevertheless very splendid), a pair of pumps in which I could see my face reflected in clear silhouette, and . . . a leather bag” (Anand, “The Barber’s Trade Union,” 9).[12] Abused “in the foulest way,” first by the village landlord and then by the moneylender, for wearing clothes above his station, Chandu then resolves to mount a one-man strike, purchasing “a Japanese bicycle” (10, 12) and riding it every day to a nearby town, where he makes money cutting hair and shaving the townspeople, beyond the reach of the village hierarchy. At the story’s conclusion, when the landlord and moneylender, mocked and reviled by the village peasantry and their own wives for their slovenly, unshaven appearance, attempt to hire a barber from another village, they discover that Chandu

had conceived a new notion, newer than those he had ever thought of before . . .  he had applied his brain to the scheme of opening a shop . . .  in partnership with his cousin, the barber of Verka, and with Dhunoo and the other barbers within a range of seven miles from his village . . .  by that gift of the gab which he had, besides his other qualities of the head and the heart, he convinced them all that it was time that the elders of the village came to them to be shaved rather than that they should dance attendance upon their lords and masters. (16)

A brief and comic story, “The Barber’s Trade Union,” while embracing Lehmann’s call to be “Indian,” detours around the indictment of colonialism that left-wing British intellectuals might have expected from “realistic” writing (an expectation met more directly by Orwell’s “Killing an Elephant,” first published in the same issue of New Writing). The story’s target is not British rule in India, which appears not at all, but caste and the structure of the “traditional” Indian village. Indeed, Chandu’s rebellion against the “lords and masters” is enabled by the consumer goods brought to India by imperial trade: the “Angrezi” clothes in which he imitates English authority, “in a beautiful heroic dress like the Padre sahib of the Mission School,” and the “Japanese bicycle” that enables his “freedom of movement” (16, 10, 8). The story thus distances its author/narrator from mainstream Indian nationalism and its Gandhian fetishization of the village.

In his low origin, rebelliousness, physical mobility, and determination to subvert the dictates of caste, Chandu—that “low-caste devil” and “rogue” as the village Pandit decries him—is best understood as a kind of picaro, a literary type of the “scheming social outlier” with its origins in the Spanish Golden Age (11). As Rob Nixon points out, the picaro takes on a particular critical valence in the hands of colonial and postcolonial writers: “The picaro embodies everything the socially remote privileged classes, with their ornate rhetoric and social etiquette, seek to contain, repress, and eject.”[13] At the story’s opening, the unnamed narrator asserts his own social superiority and Chandu’s abjection in a frank declaration of Chandu’s inability to relate, or even understand, the narrative of which he is the protagonist: “Among the makers of modern India, Chandu, the barber boy of our village, has a place which will be denied him unless I press for the recognition of his contribution to history. Chandu’s peculiar claim to recognition rested, to tell the truth, on an exploit of which he did not know the full significance” (Anand, “The Barber’s Trade Union,” 7). Yet as Chandu’s partner in crime, the narrator shares his status as a “rogue” (both are referred to as such by the village elite), becoming a vicarious picaro himself. And third, Chandu’s story culminates in the establishment of an institution—an event that the story registers both in plot and narrative form. The penultimate paragraph effaces the particularities of the union’s constituent members (Chandu, his cousin, the barber of Verka, Dhunoo, the other barbers) and incorporates them into a collective whole, which itself becomes the story’s protagonist in its one-sentence final paragraph: “‘Rajkot District Barber Brothers’ Hairdressing and Shaving Saloon’ has been followed by many other active trade unions of working men in our parts” (16).

“The Barber’s Trade Union” is an institutional picaresque: the protagonist’s irrepressible, rebellious nature leads him as if by accident into political assertion, which eventually takes embodied form in an institution: a set of norms (the refusal to “dance attendance”) and a material structure (the “saloon” itself). Situated below the geopolitics of imperialism and nationalism, but refusing the stifling identitarianism of the local, Chandu and the other barbers arrive at a form of collective agency that the story valorizes in its closing lines. This investment in the genre of the picaresque, and an appreciation of the power of institutions, evidently allowed “The Barber’s Trade Union” to navigate the conflicting demands of Lehmann’s letter, and of the literary culture of England in the thirties, with some success. Anand would publish more with New Writing, and maintained a working relationship with Lehmann for decades, well past the point where Anand’s connections with other figures of the British cultural left of the 1930s had faded.

The idea of an institutional picaresque may seem like a contradiction in terms. What could be more unlike each other than the picaro’s rambunctiousness—and the basically negative and critical charge of the picaresque genre—and the continuity and adherence to norms demanded by the institution? Yet despite being each other’s obverse, the picaro and the institution are central figures of Anand’s oeuvre as well as of his biography. Like that of other colonial intellectuals in twenties and thirties London, his own life took on a picaresque cast, as he traveled widely and made money writing what and where he could, though he eventually worked steadily for the BBC and maintained relationships with publishers. After his permanent return to India in 1945, Anand’s international status as a non-aligned Cold War intellectual was enabled by the cultural institutions of the postcolonial state, of which he became an enthusiastic functionary. In 1946 Anand founded the journal Marg, which shaped modern Indian art and architecture and played a significant role in bringing Le Corbusier into the design and construction of the modernist capital of Punjab, Chandigarh. Anand also edited a remarkable collectively authored History of the Indian Post Office in 1954. By the 1960s he was serving in numerous academic capacities: as chair of the Lalit Kala Akademi, as Tagore Professor of Literature and Fine Art at the University of Punjab, and as a professor at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study; he was a frequent attendee of the Commonwealth and Afro-Asian Writers’ Conferences and regularly drew on connections to the Nehru/Gandhi family. Yet throughout his career he would present himself in terms identical to those of Chandhu and the other youthful male protagonists of his early novels: Untouchable’s Bakha, Coolie’s Munoo, Lalu of the Sword & Sickle trilogy. His self-presentation as a rogue and outsider would persist and serve as a touchstone for the rest of his life, regardless of professional circumstance: at the height of his prestige in the cultural apparatus of the Indian state, in 1969, he was at pains to insist in a letter to the critic Saros Cowasjee,

It is not my anxiety to win the Sahitya Academy Award. . . . If I don’t get the prize, I will be the only one of the four elder statesmen of “Pigeon-Indian” who will not have received the award, and that will give you a very good point to show that I don’t care a damn for the Establishment.

Loud protestations of indifference like this one aside, Anand received the Award two years later for his novel Morning Face. Perpetually positioning himself as an outsider’s insider, Anand regularly evokes Chad Harbach’s evocative image of the creative writer in the university: “He's always lobbing his flaming bags of prose over the ivied gate late at night. Then in the morning he puts on a tie and walks through the gate and goes to his office.”[14] This was the basic posture Anand himself assumed in his relationships to national identity and to the institutions of international writing, whether in Bloomsbury or Bombay, even when, paradoxically, his position within those identities and institutions was relatively secure, as a way of maintaining that security through perpetual rhetorical agitation. Indeed, it is in this relentless crankiness and chafing at the putative establishment that Anand was perhaps most classically modernist.

Conversations in Bloomsbury in India

If Anand presented himself in England as an Indian rogue, he would later take precisely the opposite tack, presenting himself in India as a cosmopolitan Anglophile. In a November 1970 letter to Cowasjee, who was writing a book on Anand and working to bring a number of his works back into print, Anand reveals that he “wrote 20 pages of reminiscences of [Bonamy] Dobree, [T. S.] Eliot, and others,” which might aid in Cowasjee’s research (Author to Critic, 104). This was the genesis of Conversations in Bloomsbury, often cited as a key account of Anand’s relationships in the prewar British literary scene. As with “The Barber’s Trade Union,” Conversations emerged from a particular situation of writing. As Rosemary Marangoly George argues in her Indian English and the Fiction of National Literature, by the early nineteen-seventies, after the death of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, whose patronage he had relied on, “Anand’s affiliation with the central government became more tenuous. There was a need to bolster his importance for the new generation of leadership” (130). Conversations, published in London in 1981, sought to perform this reputation enhancement by reinserting a particular version of Anand into a sanctified moment in Anglophone literary culture. Its date of publication, intentionally or not, allowed the memoir to ride the wave of Bloomsbury nostalgia (and debunking) that emerged in Britain in the seventies and eighties, kicked off in part by Quentin Bell’s 1972 biography of his aunt Virginia Woolf. The presence of Anand’s name alongside those of the major Bloomsbury figures may have helped boost his stock in the Anglophone literary world of India as well.

Conversations is a curious work. Over twenty short, disconnected episodes, Anand purports to recount conversations with various literary and cultural figures of late-twenties Bloomsbury, ranging from now-canonical figures like the Woolfs, E. M. Forster, and Nancy Cunard to lesser-known academics and cultural workers like Eric Gill, Herbert Read, and Arthur Waley. (He also meets Bill Bland and Harry Tomkins, two Cockneys brought in straight from Central Casting.) Critics have relied on it, at times quite uncritically, for information on Anand’s activities in 1930s London, though Conversations’ value as a historical document seems highly questionable, given the staginess and detail of its scenes and dialogue and the 55-year span between the events it recounts and its publication.[15] But it is the fictional qualities of the book that most interest me here. For example, after a contentious scene involving D. H. Lawrence, Eliot, John Middleton Murry, and Aldous Huxley in the second episode, “Lions and Shadows in the Sherry Party in Harold Monro’s Bookshop,” Anand writes,

Aldous Huxley felt differently from others, and even differed from himself of the days of his Jesting Pilate, because he had doubts about our benign white sahibs. All the others seemed to believe, more or less, in the “Empire on which the sun never sets.” I, who had been to jail in the Gandhi movement, was fuming inside. I had left home because my pro-white-sahib father had beaten my mother for my going to jail. And I had learnt to be a rebel.

The move this passage makes with its famous subject, claiming knowledge of Huxley’s developing mindset through faux-casual name-dropping of his works, is made over and over in Conversations, and it rarely succeeds in giving the feeling of intimacy or insight for which Anand appears to be reaching. But similarly repeated is his casting of himself as an outsider and a rebel, someone who qualifies as a scoundrel and troublemaker in stuffy Bloomsbury. In the early episodes this role is most often taken by Anand’s poet friend Nikhil Sen, who, in an echo of the structure of “Barber’s Trade Union,” is figured as the more assertive and bolder of the two, with Anand following his lead. By the later episodes, though, Anand himself has taken over the role of picaro, through repeated (and self-aware) reference to his origin in a “craft family” as a qualification to discuss high art, and in his self-characterization as a “naïve, unfashionable craftsman’s son,” a “peasant” and an “irrepressible Indian . . .  always putting his foot in it” (Anand, Conversations, 107, 63, 105, 120). This is not a Bildung story; it is not that Anand himself develops inwardly, but rather that the contexts for his speech and his ability to externalize his roguish perspective change over the book’s twenty episodes. (As Matthew Garrett points out, the picaro is “not just a character, the picaro is a situation.”)[16] Conversations is best understood not as a memoir that might explain Anand’s (or anyone else’s) literary activities in Bloomsbury. Instead, it constitutes a flawed, awkward, but carefully constructed sort of auto-fiction, in which Anand, at the time of its composition a respected but marginal cultural functionary in the postcolonial republic of letters, re-mobilizes the picaresque as a way of demonstrating his connections to the cultural capital of Bloomsbury and the value of his persistent outsider status. It also illustrates the institutionalization of modernism as a source of cultural value, in ways that require attention to how genres cross-pollinate and how literature and life are not as distinct as more temporally and spatially delimited accounts of modernism might suggest. His own writing was destined never to ascend into what Casanova famously terms “the world republic of letters,” despite the forays Anand made against the constraints of national realism. Instead, Anand himself would draw vicariously on the canonicity and international brand of “Bloomsbury” to secure his career as a cultural worker inside and outside of India.

Anand with Pablo Picasso, Minnette de Silva, and Jo Davidson, at the 1948 World Congress of Intellectuals in Defense of Peace, in Warsaw.
Fig. 2. Anand with Pablo Picasso, Minnette de Silva, and Jo Davidson, at the 1948 World Congress of Intellectuals in Defense of Peace, in Warsaw.

Picaresque Post-Mortem

Anand leveraged his institutionalized anti-institutionalism for the last time in a satirical “Self-Obituary,” written in 1999 and published after his death. By now a very senior figure of the post-independence Indian cultural scene, Anand offers autobiography in exaggerated, humorous, but perhaps by-now familiar terms:

Someone christened him Muck Rake Anand. And that remains the best epitaph on him. . . . He was an incurable unregenerate leftist who, we believe, consistently wrote, spoke and worked for the despicable creed of socialism which has now been defeated on all fronts on this earth. . . . Knowing that he would be found out to be the empty windbag he was if he wrote in one of our own great languages, he began to bluff all innocent people abroad by writing in English and managed to pass off as a representative Indian writer. No fraud can outmatch that perpetuated by this charlatan . . . The wretch always denied the charge that he had sold Indian local colour to the western world to great advantage to himself . . .  he was frequently seen in the company of long-haired poets, writers, artists, actors and other such scum of the earth. The political sympathies of Anand were clear enough, but the clever plausible rogue that he was, he tried to disguise all his most sinister impulses and ideas behind the vague terms of what he called humanism. . . . He presumed once to write and produce plays . . . Certain well-known figures of our dance world came under his influence . . . He corrupted our art world by editing an Americanised magazine of art. His insistence on form in our sculpture and painting, diverted the emphasis from the deep religiosity of our artistic heritage to lewd surrealist abstractionism. This is an example of how one dirty fish can spoil the whole tank, so to speak.[17]

As Geeta Kapur puts it, “[Anand] narrativizes his ‘origins’ as an artist-intellectual from the vantage point of a runaway youth.”[18] Once again, Anand tells the story of a “plausible clever rogue,” a “charlatan” associated with the “scum of the earth,” whose fraudulence leads him to a position of institutional authority, producing plays and dances and editing an “Americanised magazine.” Anand analogizes the radical artist who gains access to cultural organizations to the “one dirty fish [that] can spoil the whole tank,” a pungent but fitting metaphor for how institutions translate ostensibly individual action into collective effects, even if the results are smelly. But “Self-Obituary” is a political critique as much as it is a re-assertion of Anand’s picaresque authorial persona. The voice that attacks Anand in defense of “our great spiritual heritage” is that of the resurgent Hindu right, which had only just begun its successful assault on Indian politics, with the election of the National Democratic Alliance, headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in 1998 (“Self-Obituary,” xvi). Anand’s career had involved him closely with the Indian National Congress, and its historic defeat by the BJP marked a watershed moment in Indian politics. In “Self-Obituary,” Anand returns to picaresque tropes, trading on the reputation he developed by embodying those tropes in the service of the postcolonial state to satirize the ascendant political right, fifty years after Independence and sixty years after Chandu graced the pages of New Writing.

Anand’s career was made possible by his affiliations with the Hogarth Press, the BBC, Marg, the universities where he taught, and the Indian state’s cultural arm. His ability to successfully move among these institutions relied on and fed back into his writing, and he consistently deployed what I’ve termed the institutional picaresque to make these moves. In “The Barber’s Trade Union,” Anand writes his way into the pages of left British literary culture; with Conversations in Bloomsbury, he seeks to reestablish his position as a literary and cultural authority in postcolonial India; and in “Self-Obituary,” he mounts an intervention into Indian politics’ neoliberal nineties on the basis of the reputation he had long worked to establish. Picaresque ultimately served Anand as a form of what Merve Emre terms “literary branding,” in which the postures and characterizations that readers like Lehmann expected from his fiction migrated into real-life strategies of self-promotion and institutional positioning.[19] Anand’s output was prodigious and uneven, and critics have said relatively little about the work, both literary and administrative, that occupied him from the postwar period into the early 2000s. Tracing his consistent but flexible use of a limited set of literary tropes, in both his fiction and in his authorial self-fashioning, is an important way of accounting for Anand and writers like him, whose careers stretched from the high modernist moment in the imperial metropolis to the postwar era and beyond. Moreover, Anand’s case demonstrates how theorizations of governmental and literary institutions that see institutions as external to, or as the conditions of possibility for the production of, modernist writing, only tell half the story. Theories of institutions are in fact immanent to the works we study and teach, and Anand’s work is exemplary in this regard. Seeing the affordances and limits of modernist thinking about institutions aids in connecting the two methodological tracks I outlined to begin. And it provides greater insight as we follow the aesthetic energies of the modern from the age of empire (or, the moment of high modernism) to decolonization (or, the world of postwar international literature).


[1] A foundational text of the new institutionalism is The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis, ed. Paul J. DiMaggio and Walter W. Powell (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1991). See also The Oxford Handbook of Political Institutions, ed. Bert A Rockman, Sarah Binder, and R. A. W. Rhodes (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006) and The Oxford Handbook of Historical Institutionalism, ed. Tulia G. Falleti, Adam D. Sheingate, and Karl Orfeo Fioretos (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016). Patricia H. Thornton, William Ocasio, and Michael Lounsbury’s The Institutional Logics Perspective (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012) recaps and synthesizes this work, making a case for the centrality of the “institutional logics” approach, which places particular emphasis on the overlapping and simultaneous institutional orders in which individuals and organizations take shape and act. The term has more recently become an object of debate in the art world; see for example the collection How Institutions Think: Between Contemporary Art and Curatorial Discourse, ed. Paul O’Neill, Lucy Steeds, and Mick Wilson (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017).

[2] John Marx, Geopolitics and the Anglophone Novel, 1890–2011 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 1. See also, among many others, Joseph Slaughter’s Human Rights, Inc. (New York: Fordham University Press, 2007), Matthew Hart and Jim Hansen, ed., “Contemporary Literature and the State,” special issue, Contemporary Literature 49.4 (Winter 2008); Michael Rubenstein’s Public Works (South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010), Janice Ho’s Nation and Citizenship in the Twentieth-Century British Novel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), and Jessica Berman’s Modernist Commitments: Ethics, Politics, and Transnational Modernism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011).

[3] A small sample of the scholarship on modernist institutions would include Lawrence Rainey’s Institutions of Modernism (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999) and Mark McGurl’s The Program Era (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009), with more recent contributions like Jeremy Braddock’s Collecting as Modernist Practice (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), Evan Kindley’s Poet-Critics and the Administration of Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017), and work on the BBC, such as Emily Bloom’s The Wireless Past (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016) and Ian Whittington’s Writing the Radio War (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018). See also Laura Heffernan and Rachel Sagner Buurma, “The Classroom in the Canon: T. S. Eliot’s Modern English Literature Extension Course for Working People and The Sacred Wood,PMLA 133, no. 2 (2018): 264–81.

[4] See Hugh Heclo, On Thinking Institutionally (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

[5] See also Michael Hart’s account in this cluster of the career of Arthur Quiller-Couch at Cambridge, which demonstrates the extent to which the critical output and institutional ascendance of someone like “Q” could be mutually reinforcing, and Carlos Nugent, who shows how Mabel Dodge’s Los Gallos was both a modernist creation in itself and an institutional base from which the affiliated artists and writers transformed the depiction of the American Southwest.

[6] Berman’s work on Anand, included in Modernist Commitments, has been particularly significant in this regard.

[7] On Anand’s work at the BBC, see Daniel Ryan Morse, “An ‘Impatient’ Modernist’: Mulk Raj Anand at the BBC,” Modernist Cultures 10, no. 1 (2015): 83–98. On his time in Bloomsbury, see Anna Snaith, “The Hogarth Press and the Networks of Anti-Colonialism,” in Leonard and Virginia Woolf, the Hogarth Press and the Networks of Modernism, ed. Helen Southworth (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010), 103–27; and Kristen Bluemel’s George Orwell and the Radical Eccentrics: Intermodernism in Literary London (New York: Palgrave, 2004). Peter Kalliney’s Commonwealth of Letters: British Literary Culture and the Emergence of Postcolonial Aesthetics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014) does not address Anand at length, but demonstrates how a modernism incubated in places like Harlem and Bloomsbury connected across midcentury to postcolonial aesthetics through a shared aspiration to aesthetic autonomy.

[8] Anand, Apology for Heroism (New Delhi: Arnold, 1976) 144.

[10] Pascale Casanova, The World Republic of Letters, trans. M. B. Debevoise (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004), 200.

[11] Mulk Raj Anand, “The Barber’s Trade Union,” in The Barber’s Trade Union and Other Stories (London: Jonathan Cape, 1944), 7–16, 10. When the story was collected in this volume, Anand dedicated it to Lehmann.

[12] The protagonist of Untouchable, Bakha, similarly adopts English dress. Rosemary Marangoly George notes Anand’s knowledge of Dalit (untouchable) writing and activist movements, and the importance of clothing to these movements, in her indispensable Indian English and the Fiction of National Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 233n70.

[13] Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011), 55. Annie McClanahan argues that the genre has only assumed greater relevance in the era of “tipworkification” (see “TV and Tipworkification,” Post45 [January 2019].

[14] Chad Harbach, “MFA vs. NYC,” in MFA vs. NYC, ed. Chad Harbach (New York: N+1 Books, 2013), 9–30, 10.

[15] In particular, Conversations is the origin of an oft-repeated story that Gandhi himself edited Untouchable; Rosemary George argues that this encounter is unlikely to have actually happened (see George, 126–32). Similarly, Anand suggests that he regularly did editorial work for Eliot’s Criterion and the Hogarth Press. There appears to be no other documentation of these activities.

[16] Matthew Garrett, “Subterranean Gratification: Reading After the Picaro,” Critical Inquiry (Fall 2015): 97-123, 100.

[17] Anand, “Self-Obituary,” in Mulk Raj Anand, A Reader: Selections from his Fictional and Non-Fictional Writings, ed. Atma Ram (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi), xvi-xxxi. I borrow the phrase “institutionalized anti-institutionalism” from O’Neill, Steeds, and Wilson’s Introduction to How Institutions Think: Between Contemporary Art and Curatorial Discourse.

[18] Geeta Kapur, “Partisan Modernity,” in Mulk Raj Anand: Shaping the Indian Modern, ed. Annapurna Garimella (Mumbai: Marg Publications, 2005), 28-41, 30.

[19] See Merve Emre, Paraliterary (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2017), 94–134.