Michael Madhusudan Datta who began writing in Bengali, when he realised the "impossibility of being European", was not, in fact, ahead of his time, but very much of it. Madhusudan had, till 1940, been feted by middle class Bengalis across the spectrum as a legendary poet. However, the brilliant aura around him began to be muddied by critics whose modernist provenance was an even more powerful impulse than the Marxist. This paper recontextualises strategies of reading and representation, which change historically in response to evolving and shifting cultural paradigms. It shows how readings of a particular writer or a period are orchestrated through a multiplicity of exchanges in politically charged situations. It neither redeems Madhusudan nor resurrects the idea of the Bengal Renaissance.