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Novels, Society and History: 10th SST

Question: Mention some important characteristics of novels which increased their popularity among the readers.


  1. The most important characteristics of the novels were that they were about ordinary people, and were read by ordinary people. They were about the everyday life of the common people.
  2. Most of the novels focused on the lives of the common people.
  3. In the 19th century, Europe entered into the industrial age. This changed the social and economic structure of the society. Most of the novelists showed the terrible effects of industrialisation on people’s lives.
  4. The novel uses the vernacular language that is spoken by the common people.

Question: Explain the contribution of Devaki Nandan Khatri in Hindi novels.
Name the first Hindi modem novel which became a best seller. Who was its writer? Why was it so popular?

Answer: Devaki Nandan Khatri was the first author of mystery novels in India. His writings created a novel-reading public in Hindi. His best-seller, Chandrakanta – a romance with dazzling elements of make-believe fantasy is believed to have contributed immensely in popularising the Hindi language. It also promoted the Nagari script among the educated classes of those times. Although, it was apparently written purely for the ‘pleasure of reading’, this .novel also gives some interesting insights into the fears and desires of its reading public.

Question: Trace the history of novels of South India.


  1. Novels began appearing in South Indian languages during the period of colonial India.
  2. O. Chandu Menon tried to translate an English novel, but as his readers were not familiar with the ways in which the character in English novel lived, so he wrote, Indulekha in Malayalam in 1889.
  3. Kandukuri Viresalingam also started translating Oliver Goldsmith’s Vicar of Wakefield, but finished up in writing a Telugu novel called Rajasekhara Caritamu in 1878.

Question: Explain any three features of early Bengali novels .
Describe two kinds of novels that came to be written in Bengali in the 19th century. Name any two famous novelists of Bengal.


  1. In the nineteenth century, the early Bengali novels lived in two worlds. Many of these novels were located in the past, their characters, events and love stories were based on historical events. Another group of novels depicted the inner world of domestic life in contemporary settings. Domestic novels frequently dealt with the social problems and romantic relationships between men and women.
  2. Besides the ingenious twists and turns of the plot and the suspense, the novel was also relished for its language. The prose style became a new object of enjoyment.
  3. Initially the Bengali novel used a colloquial style associated with urban life. It also used meyeli, the language associated with the women’s speech. This style was quickly replaced by Bankim’s prose which was Sanskritised but also contained a more vernacular style.
  4. Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay were the two most popular novelists of Bengal.

Question: What were the issues raised by the novel Indulekha written in Malayalam?
What led Chandu Menon to write Indulekha?


  1. The writer has written about the marriage practices of upper caste Hindus in Kerala.
  2. The writer has raised the issue of wedge between landlords and tenants.
  3. The writer has raised the issues of marriage and property.
  4. Chandu Menon clearly wants his readers to appreciate the new values of his hero and heroine and criticise the ignorance and immorality of Suri Nambuthire.

Question: How did novels depict the lives of peasants and low castes? Explain with examples from India.


  1. Advaita Malla Burman’s (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.
  2. The novel describes the community life of the Mallas in great detail, their Holi and Kali Puja festivals, boat races, bhatiali songs, their relationships of friendship and animosity with the peasants and the oppression of the upper castes.
  3. Godan (The Gift of Cow), published in 1936, remains Premchand’s best-known work. It 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 labourers.

Question: Explain the role of novelists in the field of social reforms in India with the help of any three examples.


  1. The novel Saraswativijayam stresses the importance of education for the upliftment of the lower castes.
  2. The writer of novel Indulekha wanted his readers to appreciate the new values of education and criticise the ignorance.
  3. Novelist like Munshi Premchand wrote about the poor conditions of peasants and how they were being exploited by the landlords.

Question: Mention some important reasons for the popularity of the novels.
Explain, how did novels become a popular medium of entertainment among the middle class during the late nineteenth century in India.
Why were the novels widely read and become popular very quickly?
How did novels become popular among masses?
Assess the reasons for the popularity of the novel in Europe?


  1. Cheap: Novels were very cheap as compared to manuscript. These circulated among few people. In contrast, because of being printed, novels were widely read and became popular very quickly.
  2. Novels catered to the need of common people: Printing created an appetite for new kinds of writing. As more and more people could now read, they wanted to see their own lives, experiences, emotions and relationships reflected in what they read. Novels, ideally catered to this need. It soon acquired distinctively Indian forms and styles. For readers, it opened up new worlds
    of experience, and gave a vivid sense of the diversity of human lives.
  3. New Readers: The novel first took firm root in England and France. Novels began to be written from the seventeenth century, but they really flowered from the eighteenth century. New groups of lower-middle-class people such as shopkeepers and clerks, along with the traditional aristocratic and gentlemanly classes in England and France now formed the new readership for novels.
  4. Hiring novels: Technological improvements in printing brought down the price of books and innovations in marketing led to expanded sales. In France, publishers found that they could make super profits by hiring out novels by the hour. The novel was one of the first mass-produced items to be sold.
  5. New absorbing and believable world: The worlds created by novels were absorbing and believable, and seemingly real. While reading novels, the reader was transported to another person’s world, and began looking at life as it was experienced by the characters of the novel. Besides, novels allowed individuals the pleasure of reading in private, as well as the joy of publicly reading or discussing stories with friends or relatives. In rural areas people would collect to hear one of them reading a novel aloud, often becoming deeply involved in the lives of the characters.

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