Book revisits life of Rani Laxmibai's lawyer John Lang
A new book revisits the life of John Lang, the Australian writer-lawyer settled in India in the 19th century who fought many cases against the British and also represented Rani Laxmibai in her legal battle against the annexation of her kingdom of Jhansi by the East India Company.John Lang Wanderer of Hindoostan, Slanderer of Hindoostanee, Lawyer for the Ranee by Amit Ranjan is about Langs life, his exploits and his literary works.Lang 1816-1864 was a fiery journalist and novelist who constantly harassed the establishment of East India Company with his invective and infective wit.
A new book revisits the life of John Lang, the Australian writer-lawyer settled in India in the 19th century who fought many cases against the British and also represented Rani Laxmibai in her legal battle against the annexation of her kingdom of Jhansi by the East India Company.
As a lawyer, he mostly fought against the British and won a few famous cases in the company's own court. So why is the need for Lang to be resurrected? Ranjan argues it is not just because he is the first Australian writer, or he is among the first writers of English prose in Indian, and not just because of his important historical location of having lived in the politically volatile 19th century; but also, and primarily because he is a fine writer.
Lang's body of work is huge - 24 novels (that have been discovered, and more), five volumes of poetry, editorials and articles in his newspaper Mofussilite, editions of which came out from Ambala, Calcutta and Meerut, and numerous apocryphal works presumed to have been written or co-authored or significantly inspired by him.
Most of the novels were written as serials in his newspaper; some were published as books as well from Britain and India. Fifteen of his novels were set in India.
''The Rani had employed him because of his fame amongst the Indians but he lost the case quickly, probably because of his notoriety among the British,'' the book, published by Niyogi Books' Paper Missile imprint, says.
Ranjan says that Lang's newspaper Mofussilite was for members of public service and thrived on scandals related to them.
''Lang can indeed be viewed as the father of Indian tabloid journalism. The tabloid, of course, had its equivalent of what is now known as 'Page 3', but it was very different - in that it was very literary, with an overdose of Lang's Latin, Boccaccios and Byrons,'' Ranjan writes.
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