Unsettling the Past

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Of virtually no modern historian other than D.D. Kosambi (1907–1966) can it be said: ‘He changed the way in which Indian history was conceptualized and written.’ In fact, the term ‘Renaissance man’ springs to mind because Kosambi’s intellectual contributions cross disciplinary boundaries, ranging from ancient history to mathematics to Sanskrit literature to numismatics to India’s energy policy.

This book contains relatively unknown writings by Kosambi, including several obscure but important essays and an unpublished children’s story. Also made available here for the first time are some wonderful letters that Kosambi wrote to, among others, the scientist Homi Bhabha and the writer-historian Robert Graves. These reveal Kosambi’s mastery of the epistolary art.

Other sections contain tributes to Kosambi by his friends, and essays by major contemporary scholars on his contributions in diverse fields. The volume gives a new and well-rounded picture of Kosambi’s writings, as well as mature assessments of his scholarship by some of the best minds of our time.

D.D. Kosambi

Damodar Dharmananda Kosambi (July 31, 1907 – June 29, 1966) was a man with a Renaissance type of versatility: he had a wide range of knowledge without sacrificing depth. He was a mathematician, statistician, and polymath who contributed to genetics by introducing Kosambi ’s map function. He did pioneering work in numismatics and in compiling critical editions of ancient Sanskrit texts. Above all, he was an outstanding Marxist historian.

Meera Kosambi

Meera Kosambi, who has edited this volume, is a sociologist. Her several books include Crossing Thresholds: Feminist Essays in Social History (2007), and Women Writing Gender: Marathi Fiction Before Independence (2012).