Brockington, John: Force Majeure: Alexander Hamilton and the Start of Sanskrit Studies in Continental Europe, in Bornet, Philippe und Cattoni, Nadia (Hrsg.): Significant Others, Significant Encounters: Essays on South Asian History and Literature, Heidelberg: Heidelberg Asian Studies Publishing, 2023, S. 137–149. https://doi.org/10.11588/hasp.1155.c16215

Identifier (Buch)

ISBN 978-3-948791-50-6 (PDF)
ISBN 978-3-948791-51-3 (Hardcover)




John Brockington

Force Majeure

Alexander Hamilton and the Start of Sanskrit Studies in Continental Europe

Alexander Hamilton’s pivotal role in the beginnings of Sanskrit studies in continental Europe has been well covered in Rosane Rocher’s book and subsequent article on him. However, the role of historical accident in catalysing this and similar processes is worth emphasising. For Hamilton, who had gone just to consult manuscripts, detention in Paris for three years (1803–1806) because of the worsening political situation between Britain and France meant that he used his enforced stay on the continent, among other things, to teach Sanskrit to a number of scholars, in particular Friedrich and August Wilhelm von Schlegel. But the influence on Friedrich of the deployment of the older Schlegel brother, Carl August, to Madras with the Hannover Regiment is also relevant. The contrast in attitudes towards Indology in this period between continental European nations and Britain with its imperial outlook will also be noted.

Keywords Sanskrit, Alexander Hamilton, Paris, Napoleon, Schlegel, Bopp