What happens – can happen – when a historian looks at literature? What happens – is likely to happen – when the practitioner of a referential discourse, which is what history is believed to quintessentially be, looks at the quintessentially non-referential discourse that literature is? A great deal, comprising diametrically opposite possibilities, can obviously be expected to happen. Without touching upon the range of those possibilities, I shall in my presentation try and share with you something of what happened to me, as a professional historian, following an impulse to go to modern Indian literature for understanding the structure of modern Indian social consciousness. Though I shall mostly deal with literature in colonial India, with which I am relatively better acquainted, I may feel tempted to make some remarks about post-1947 literature as well in order to suggest that the kind of social consciousness that emerged under the colonial impact has continued into our own day.