In thinking about the imagining of a city through its water, my attention has been drawn to two pieces of travel writing situated in Calcutta. The writings both emphasise the noble qualities of Calcutta’s waterways.
Lady Maria Graham writes in her ‘Journal of a Residence in India’ (Edinburgh: Ramsay and Company, 1813) of the Hoogly (sic) river,
‘…There is something in the scenery of this place that reminds me of the beauty of the banks of the Thames ; the same verdure, the same rich foilage, the same majestic body of water’.
Utilising the same adjective, Deville’s, ‘Lettres sur le Bengale ecrites des bords du Gange’ (Paris: Briere, 1826) describe the banks of the ‘fleuve majestueux’ which he urges the fictitious recipient of his letters (Florine) to come wander along.
This genre of writing provides a particular entry point into understanding the role of water in building a narrative of a place.