"Play up, play up, and play the game" : public schools and imperialism in British and South Asian diasporic literature



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This dissertation examines literary representations of the intersection between British imperialism and British and British-modeled public schools. I categorize British writers who have addressed this nexus in their literary works into two groups, idealists and realists, based on their views of British public schools, imperialism, and the effectiveness of the former in sustaining the latter. I present two examples of idealists, Henry Newbolt and the contributors to The Boy's Own Paper, followed by two examples of realists, Rudyard Kipling and E. M. Forster, who have often been viewed as opposites. I then provide an example of a South-Asian diasporic realist, Selvaduari, who builds upon the critiques of British realists by revealing the contemporary offspring of the marriage between British public schools and imperialism. By analyzing works by idealist and realist authors, I demonstrate the importance of public schools and school literature in promoting and sustaining as well as critiquing and condemning imperialism.