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JOSEPH DEFALCO LAMPEREZ “Strong hold and fountain­ head oftheir idolatry”: TheJuggernaut in the Work of Claudius Buchanan and Shelley’s The Triumph ofLife A mong theories aiming to decipher the titular procession of Shelley’s The Triumph of Life (1824), a few mention that the Car of Life, the pageant’s elusive centerpiece, evokes the Indian god-cummetaphor known as the Juggernaut. Edward Duffy writes suggestively of “the brilliant but sinisterjuggernaut ofthe ‘Triumph,’ for example, while Harold Bloom observes that the Car’s parade “is an exact parallel ... to the procession ofjuggernaut,”2 though he does not ask what this mirroring im­ plies about Shelley’s poetic intent. The most focused inquiry into this ques­ tion, James Mulvihill’s “Hazlitt, Shelley, and ‘The Triumph ofLife,’ ” notes that Hazlitt “may have . . . inspired the central symbol ofShelley’s last ma­ jor poena”3 in casting the Car as a sign of growing irrationalism within British institutions. But while Mulvihill writes that the import of Shelley’s carriage matches Hazlitt’s—“just as Shelley’s Car of Life is an irresistible, relentless force against which many seem powerless, so Power as depicted by Hazlitt is a sinister vehicle of seductive pomp and circumstance”4—this parallel overlooks how the vehicle first evolved in the British imagination from god to metaphor, and thus does not address how far Hazlitt and Shel­ ley each diverge from past depictions. To understand what is unique to I. Duffy, Rousseau in England: The Contextfor Shelley’s Critique ofthe Enlightenment (Berke­ ley: University of California Press, 1979), 137. 2. Bloom, Shelley’s Mythmaking (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1969), 244. 3. Mulvihill, “Hazlitt, Shelley, and ‘The Triumph of Life,’” Notes and Queries 233 (1988): 305-74 . Mulvihill, “Hazlitt, Shelley, and ‘The Triumph of Life,’” 305—7. SiR, 56 (Winter 2017) 423 424 JOSEPH DEFALCO LAMPEREZ Figure i: “Procession ofJuggernaut, at the grand Hindoo festival of the Rutt Jattra,” Church Missionary Society Missionary Papers, Midsummer 1817. University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom. their respective visions of the Juggernaut we must look instead to Claudius Buchanan, an East India Company provost and chaplain whose own reimagining of this divine personality transformed it from Indian deity to British idea. The distance separating what the Juggernaut heralded before and after Buchanan is mirrored in the gap dividing the Church Missionary Papers' de­ piction of the god (fig. 1) from Thomas Rowlandson’s contemporary portrayal in The Grand Master, or, Adventures of “Qui Hu? in Hindustan: A Hudibrastic Poem (fig. 2). While the Missionary Papers presents an almost realistic view of the festival, Rowlandson reveals how versatile the Jugger­ naut proved in the wake of Buchanan’s writings. Alluding to Francis Rawdon-Hastings’s tenure as Governor-General of India from 1813 to 1823, The Grand Master depicts the company figurehead across a series of satirical illustrations as “a bellicose representative of an overly ambitious class, bent on the ruin of the metropole through the destruction of India.”5 While Rawdon-Hastings is absent from this image, his stewardship of an unscrupulous institution is in full view: here Britons in place of Indians 5. Christina Smylitopoulos, “A Nabob’s Progress: Rowlandson and Combe’s The Grand Master, A Tale ofBritish Imperial Excess, 1770-1830” (PhD diss., McGill University, 2010), 49. THE JUGGERNAUT IN BUCHANAN AND SHELLEY 425 Figure 2: Thomas Rowlandson, “The Modern Idol Jaggemaut,” in William Combe, The Grand Master; or, Adventures of Qui Hi? in Hindostan, illustrations by Thomas Rowlandson. London, Printed by T. Tegg, 1816. Graphic Arts Collection, Princeton University Library, Princeton, New Jersey. haul a “modern idol Jaggernaut” suggesting that paganism has set up shop in the midst of the East India Company and, by implication, British gov­ ernment more generally. If the Papers uses idolatrous ritual to showcase an alien society ripe for discipline, in The Grand Master Rowlandson presents an allegory of institutions so ruinous in their coalition that they too evoke the glamour and inevitability ofpaganism itself. Yet this displaced god not only heralds a corrosive institutional arrangement: it also consolidates the forces emblazoned on its strange form, offering a handy visual cheat sheet of opaque alliances in order to license their critique. As I will show, it...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2330-118X
Print ISSN
0039-3762
Pages
pp. 423-452
Launched on MUSE
2020-03-06
Open Access
No
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