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Wordsworth in the Himalayas: Indian Narratology and Sacred Space in William Delafield Arnold’s Oakfield: Fellowship in the East

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William Delafield Arnold’s single novel, Oakfield: Fellowship in the East, is a transparently autobiographical account of what happens when the earnestness of a son and pupil of Dr. Thomas Arnold encounters the ancient world of India in the decade of the Sepoy Rebellion. This essay explores what has been far less apparent to Western readers and critics: the presence of Indian philosophy at the heart of the novel. Following in the tradition of the Wordsworthian Romantic prophet, W. D. Arnold relates Oakfield’s spiritual search and enlightenment to present the novel itself as the spiritual common ground that the hero seeks. The use of Indian narratological devices produces variegation by ancient spiritual design, merging the myths of enlightened beings East and West, including Brahmins, Buddha, Wordsworth, and Oakfield, on epiphanic mountains. The novel celebrates the potential for Western enlightenment discovered in the Himalayas, but also warns Britain that the colonizing effort is responsible for the loss of England’s best and brightest.

Affiliations: 1: Anoka Technical College


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