Oakfield; or, Fellowship in the East
|Publisher||Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
Oakfield; or, Fellowship in the East is a novel by William Delafield Arnold, first published in 1853. The book is one of the earliest novelistic accounts of life in British India, and its plot strongly mirrors the biography of its author. Set in India in the years surrounding the First Afghan War, the novel describes the unhappy experiences of the eponymous Edward Oakfield, an Oxford graduate who, we are told, enlisted in the East India Company's military service because he had grown tired of the metaphysical debates dominating that university. In India, Oakfield is repelled by what he sees as an absence of Christian gentlemanliness among the Company's military officers, and he soon retreats to introspection and the comradeship of a few, thinly spread, kindred spirits.
The novel is a stinging indictment of the moral standards of the British regiments in India. Indeed Arnold, fearing a backlash, originally published the novel under the pseudonym Punjabee. The second edition, of 1854, reveals the author's identity and adds a preface which functions as an apologia.
D Goonetilleke, "Forgotten Nineteenth-century Fiction: William Arnold's Oakfield and William Knighton's Forest Life in Ceylon" The Journal of Commonwealth Literature 7 (1972): 14-21.
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