Kiernan pictured at Cambridge in 1935 with the Indian communists Savitri and Somnath Chibber
Victor Gordon Kiernan (1913-2009), like many other Marxist scholars, stood resolutely with labour in its contest for hegemony with capital, sang paeans to the peasants and condemned imperialism. His unique niche among historians, however, is assured by two things. First, he pioneered a study of cultural imperialism. He was interested in knowing what imperialism meant for its victims and which attitudes shaped it in the metropolis. Second, Kiernan was among the very few who understood the language and idiom spoken in the south Asian subcontinent. He was among the earliest translators of the sublime Urdu poetry of Allama Iqbal and Faiz Ahmed Faiz.