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Novels society and history: Pol. Science

Question: Write about some of the important characteristics of the Hindi novels.
Or
How did the Hindi novels reflect the true picture of the Indian society of the 19th century ?
Or
Explain the teachings given by Srinivas Das in his novel ‘Pariksha Guru’.
In what ways did novels help to give the people a vision of being ideal characters without losing one’s identity ? Explain.

Answer:

  1. Pariksha Guru reflects the inner and the outer world of the newly emerging middle classes. The characters in the novel are caught in the difficulty of adapting to the colonized society, and at the same time preserving their own cultural identity. The world of colonial modernity seems to be both frightening and irresistible to the characters.
    In the novel, we see the characters attempting to bridge two different worlds through their actions: they take to new agricultural technology, modernize trading practices, change the use of Indian language, making them capable of transmitting both Western sciences and Indian wisdom. But the novel emphasizes that all this must be achieved without sacrificing the traditional values of the middle class household.
  2. Munshi Premchand’s novel Sewasadan (The Abode of Service), published in 1916, lifted the Hindi novel from the realm of fantasy, moralism and simple entertainment to a serious reflection on the lives of ordinary people and social issues. Sewasadan deals mainly with the poor condition of women . in the society. Premchand wrote on the realistic issues of the day, i.e., communalism, corruption, zamindari, debt, poverty, colonialism, etc. It also tells us about the ways in which the Indian upper classes used the space created by partial self-governance allowed under the colonial rule. Godan another novel written by Munshi Premchand is an epic of the Indian peasantry. The novel tells the moving story of Hori and his wife Dhania, a peasant couple. Landlords, moneylenders, priests and colonial bureaucrats-all those who hold power in society-form a network of oppression, rob their land and make them into landless laborers. Ye Hori and Dhania retain their dignity to the end.

Question: What was the importance of novels?
Or
In what ways was the novel in colonial India useful for both the colonisers as well as the nationalists ?
Or
“Novels were useful for both the colonial administrators and Indians in colonial India”. Support the statement with example.
Or
What Were the various uses of novels from the Indian point of view?

Answer:

  1. Source of Information: Colonial administrators found the ‘vernacular’ novels a valuable source of information on native life and customs. Such information was useful for them in governing Indian society, with its large and a variety of communities and castes.
    As outsiders, the British knew little about life inside Indian households. The novels in Indian languages often had descriptions of domestic life.
  2. Novels and colonialism: The novel originated in Europe at a time when it was colonizing the rest of the world. The early novel contributed to colonialism by marking the readers feel they were part of a superior community of fellow colonialists.
  3. The novel and nation making: The history written by colonial historians tended to depict Indians as weak, divided, and dependent on the British. These histories could not satisfy the tastes of the new Indian administrators and intellectuals. Nor did the traditional Puranic stories of the past- peopled by gods and demons, filled with the fantastic and the supernatural- seem convincing to those educated and working under the English system. Such minds wanted a new view of the past that would show that Indians could be independent minded and had been so in history. The novel provided a solution. In it, the nation could be imagined in a past that also featured historical characters, places, events and dates.
  4. Novels and struggle for freedom: The imagined nation of the novel was so powerful that it could inspire actual political movements. Banking’s Anandamath (1882) is-a novel about a secret Hindu militia that fights Muslims to establish a Hindu Kingdom. It was a novel that inspired many kinds of freedom fighters.
  5. Novels and common sharing novelists included: Various classes in the novel in such a way that they could be seen to belong to a shared world. Premchand’s novels, for instance, are filled with all kinds of powerful characters drawn from all levels of society. In his novels you meet aristocrats and landlords, middle level peasants and landless labourers, middle class professionals and people from the margins of society. The women characters are strong individuals, especially those who come from the lower classes and are not modernised.

Question: Who was Vaikkom Muhammad Basheer? Mention some features of his writing.

Answer: Vaikkom Muhammad Basheer (1908-96) was one of the early Muslim writers to gain a wide popularity as a novelist in Malayalam. Basheer had little formal education. Most of his works were based on his own rich personal experience rather than on books from the past. When he was in class five at school, Basheer left home to take part in the Salt Satyagraha. Later, he spent years wandering in different parts of India, and travelling even to Arabia, working in a ship, living with sufis and Hindu sanyasis, and training as a wrestler. Basheer’s short novels and stories were written in the ordinary language of conversation. With wonderful humor, Basheer’s novels spoke about details from the everyday life of Muslim households. He also brought into the Malayalam writing themes which were considered very unusual at that time – poverty, insanity and life in prisons.

Question: Discuss how the issue of caste was included in the novels in India.
Or
Describe, the theme of the novel . ‘Saraswativijayam’ written by Potheri Kunjambu.
Or
Who is the author of novel “Saraswati vijayam” ? Describe the theme of it.
Or
How does ‘Saraswativijayam’ lay stress upon the importance of education for the upliftment of the lower castes ?
Or
How did authors from so called low castes gain recognition in the world of literature? Explain with examples of any two such authors.

Answer:

  1. Novels like Indirabai and Indulekha were written by members of the upper castes, and were primarily about the uppercaste characters. But all novels were not of this kind.
  2. Potheri Kunjambu, a ‘lower-caste’ writer from north Kerala, wrote a novel called Saraswativijayam in 1892, mounting a strong blow on caste oppression. This novel shows a young man from an ‘untouchable’ caste, leaving his village to escape the cruelty of his Brahmin landlord.
    He converted himself to Christianity, obtained modem education and returned as the judge in the local court. Saraswativijayam stressed the importance of education for the upliftment of’the lower castes.
  3. From the 1920s, in Bengal too a new kind of novel emerged that depicted the lives of peasants and ‘low’ castes. Advaita Malla Burmaris (1914-51) Titash Ekti Nadir Naam (1956) is an epic about the Mallas, a community of fisherfolk who live off fishing in the river, Titash.
  4.  While novelists before Advaita Malla had featured ‘low castes’ as their main character, Titash is special because the author is himself a ‘low caste’.
  5. The central character of Munshi Premchand’s novel Rangboomi, Surdas is. a visually impaired beggar from a so-called ‘untouchable caste’.

Question: Describe the reasons of the popularity of novels among the women.

Answer:

  1. World of women: The most exciting element of the novel was the involvement of women. The eighteenth century saw the middle classes become more prosperous. Women got more leisure to read as well as write novels. And novels began exploring the world of women – their emotions and identities, their experiences and problems. Many novels were about domestic life – a theme about which women ‘Were allowed to speak with authority. They drew upon their experience, wrote about family life and earned public recognition. The novels of Jane Austen give us a glimpse of the world of women.
  2. Women character as independent and assertive: But women novelists did not simply popularise the domestic role of women. Often their novels dealt with women who broke established norms of society before adjusting to them. Such stories allowed women readers to sympathise with rebellious actions. In Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, published in 1847, young Jane is shown as independent and assertive. While girls of her time were expected to be quiet and well behaved, Jane at the age of ten protests against the hypocrisy of her elders with startling bluntness.
  3. New conception of womanhood: Another reason for the popularity of novels among women was that it allowed for a new conception of womanhood. Stories of love – which was a staple theme of many novels – showed women who could choose or refuse their partners and relationships. It showed women who could to some extent control their lives. Some women authors also wrote about women who changed the world of both men and women.
  4. Women novelist: There were many women novelist who wrote about family life, autobiographies their personal experiences as women and earned public recognisation. Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Rokeya Hossein, Rashsundari Devi all wrote exclusively on women.

Question: What did the novels in the nineteenth- century India mean to :
(1) Women
(2) Children
Or
What was the attitude of people in India in the 19th century towards women reading? How did women responded to this ?

Answer:

  1. Many people got worried about the effects of the novel on readers who were taken away from their real surroundings into an imaginary world where anything could happen. Women and children were advised not to read novels as they were seen as easily corruptible.
  2. Some parents kept novels in the lofts of their houses, out of their children’s reach. Young people often read them in secret. This passion was not limited only to the youth. Older women-some of whom could not read— listened with fascinated attention to popular Tamil novels read out to them by their grandchildren.
  3. But women did not remain mere readers of stories written by men. Soon they also began to write novels.
  4. A reason for the popularity of novels among women was that it allowed for a new conception of womanhood. Stories of
    love-which was a staple theme of many novels-showed women who could choose or refuse their partners and relationships. Some women authors also wrote about women who changed the world of both men and women. .
  5. Rokeya Hossein (1880-1932) in Sultana’s Dream (1905) showed a topsyturvy world in which women take the place of men. Her novel, Padmarag also showed the need for women to reform their condition by their own actions.
  6. Hannah Mullens, a Christian missionary and the author of Karunao Phulmonir Bibaran (1852), reputedly the first novel in Bengali, tells her readers that she wrote in secret.
  7. In the twentieth century, Sailabala Ghosh Jaya, a popular novelist, could only write because her husband protected her. As we have seen in the case of the south, women and girls were often discouraged from reading novels.

Question: Why were children prevented from reading novels? Explain.

Answer:

  1. Children would get carried away from their real surroundings into an imaginary world.
  2. It was feared that children would stay away from normal, disciplined life and would become rebels. .
  3. The novel would have immoral influences on children and they would become corrupt.
  4. Women and children were seen as easily corruptible, so they were advised to stay away from novels.

Question: Who is the author of novel “Titash Ekti Nadir Naam”? Why is it considered a special novel? Explain any four reasons.
Or .
Who is the author of novel “Titash Ekti Nadir Naam”? Describe the theme of this novel.

Answer: Advaita Malla Burman.

  1. This book is an epic about the Mallas, a community of fisherfolk in the river Titash.
  2. The novel is about three generations of the Mallas.
  3. It describes the community life of Mallas their religious traditions, festivals and relationship.
  4. It discusses circumstances due to which slowly they broke up.
  5. Their end comes together, as the river dries up.

This is special because the author is himself from a low caste fisherfolk community.

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