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Novels, Society and History: 10th SST

Question: Explain briefly the history of Hindi novel.

Answer:

  1. Pioneer of modem Hindi literature: In the north, Bharatendu Harishchandra, the pioneer of modern Hindi literature, encouraged many members of his circle of poets and writers to recreate and translate novels from other languages. Many novels were actually translated and adapted from English and Bengali under his influence, but the first proper modem novel was written by Srinivas Das of Delhi.
  2. Writings of Srinivas Das: Srinivas Das’s novel, Published in 1882, reflected the inner and outer world of the newly emerging middle class.
  3. Writings of Devaki Nandan Khatri: The writings of Devaki Nandan Khatri created a novel-reading public in Hindi. His best-seller, Chandrakanta – a romance with dazzling elements of fantasy – is believed to have contributed immensely in popularising the Hindi language and 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.
  4. Munshi Premchand: It was with the writing of Premchand that the Hindi novel achieved excellence. He began writing in Urdu and then shifted to Hindi, remaining an immensely influential writer in both languages. He drew on the traditional art of kissa-goi (storytelling). Many critics think that his novel Sewasadan (The Abode of Service), published in 1916, lifted the Hindi novel from the realm of fantasy, moralising 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 society. Issues like child marriage and dowry.

Question: How had the different novelists of the colonial period taken up the task of modernisation of the Indians? Explain.

Answer:

  1. Chandu Menon portrayed Indulekha, as a woman of breathtaking beauty, high intellectual abilities and artistic talent with an education in English and Sanskrit.
  2. Madhavan, the hero of the novel, was also presented in ideal colours. He was a member of the newly English-educated class of Nayars from the University of Madras, presently known as Chennai.
  3. The hero was also a ‘first-rate Sanskrit scholar’. He was dressed in Western clothes. But, at the same time, he kept a long tuft of hair, according to the Nayar customs.
  4. The heroes and heroines in most of the novels were people who lived in the modern world. Thus, they were different from the ideal or mythological characters of the earlier poetic literature of India.
  5. Characters like Indulekha arid Madhavan showed readers how Indian and foreign lifestyles could be brought together in an ideal combination.

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 colonised 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, modernise trading practices, change the use of Indian language, making them capable of transmitting both Western sciences and Indian wisdom. But the novel emphasises 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 Prem chand 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. 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.

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