Class 10 History

Novels Soceity and Culture: Novels Come to India

The modern novel form developed in India in the nineteenth century, once the Western novels were introduced in India. Many Indian authors initially tried to translate the English novels but they apparently did not enjoy doing that. Later many of them decided to write novels in their own language and on their own social background.

Some of the earliest novels in India were written in Bengali and Marathi. Baba Padmanji’s Yamuna Paryatan (1857) was the earliest Marathi novel. This was followed by Muktamala by Lakshman Moreshar Halbe (1861).

Leading novelists of the nineteenth century wrote to develop a modern literature of the country. They wanted to produce a sense of national belonging and cultural equality with their colonial masters.

Novel in South India

The Novel in Hindi

Bharatendu Harishchandra was the pioneer of modern Hindi literature. He encouraged many members of his circle of poets and writers to recreate and translate novels from other languages. The first proper novel in Hindi was written by Srinivas Das of Delhi. It was titled Pariksha Guru and was published in 1882. This novel highlights the pitfalls of blind copying of the western culture and advocates preserving the traditional Indian culture. The characters in this novel attempt to bridge the western and the eastern world and try to make a balance between the two cultures.

The writings of Devaki Nandan Khatri created a novel-reading public in Hindi. Chandralekha was his best-seller. This novel is believed to have immensely contributed in popularizing the Hindi language and the Nagari script among the educated classes of that time.

The Hindi novel achieved excellence with the writing of Premchand. He began to write in Urdu and later shifted to Hindi. He took a leaf from the traditional art of kissa-goi (storytelling). Simple language was the hallmark of his writings. Moreover, he portrayed people from all sections of the society. In many of his writings, the main character belonged to oppressed classes.

Novels in Bengal

Many Bengali writers excelled in writing on historical topics, while many other writers focused on contemporary themes. The new bhadralok enjoyed the private world of reading novels. Durgeshnandini (1865) was written by Bankim and this novel was much appreciated for its literary excellence.

The initial Bengali novels used a colloquial style associated with urban life. Meyeli, the language associated with women’s lingo was also used in those novels. But Bankim’s prose was Sanskritised and contained a more vernacular style.

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay (1876-1938) became the most popular novelist in Bengal and probably in the rest of India because of his expertise in storytelling in simple language.