On the Origin of English Novels in India

   Indian English literature is a hybrid of British colonial culture and Indian culture, and is unique in modern Indian literature. Around the 20th century, with the vigorous development of India's modernization process, Indian English literature played an increasingly important role in Indian literature. At present, the number of publications in Indian English has far exceeded that of other native languages. And a considerable number of novelists have won the Booker Prize and other awards, becoming the object of attention of readers and researchers. The achievements of Indian English literature are mainly manifested in novels. From the middle and late 19th century to the present, there have been many famous Indian English novelists and excellent works. Indian English novels have already become an important force in the world literature scene.


  1. Indian English novels before independence (1947)


  According to available information, the earliest Indian English novels appeared in the second half of the 19th century. The first Indian English-language novelist was the famous Bengali writer Panjim Chandra Chatterjee. His first novel in English was Raja Mohan's Wife, which was serialized in the weekly magazine "India Field", but he has since turned to writing in his native language, Bengali. Later English novels mainly appeared in the more colonized Bengal and Madras regions, mainly novels by male writers, and the serial novel "The Young Spanish Girl" by the female writer Dorole Dete. Doroe Dete was also the first poet to give Indian poetry an international reputation, only to die young. The earliest collections of Indian English-language short stories are S. Jeter Dodd's State of India: Selected Stories from Case Reports in India and Dodd and Sorindra Mohan Tagore's Years Passing: The History of India ". The Indian English novels at this stage have two characteristics: the first is that the medium-length novels basically follow the Western writing style, as can be seen from the titles of Dete’s novels, and the writing style is also close to the chronicle of 17th century European literature. The readers are mainly British people living in India. The number of novelists is not large, and the style is more based on personal literary taste, so the regularity is not strong. The second is that there are more Indian things appearing in the short stories. Why? Perhaps in the early days of Indian English novels, the overall level of writers was limited, and they could only try to describe Indian themes in short stories with limited capacity.

  Entering the 20th century, the self-confidence of English novelists in India increased, especially the creation of novels began to show the cultural conflict and the tendency to return to the local culture. Representative writers are A. Madveh, T. Ramakrishna Pillai and Srida Jojendra Singh. Of particular note is Singh, who is from Punjab in northeastern India. This is not the main British colonial area, but the main living area of ​​Sikhs, which shows that the use of English is expanding. India is a big cultural country, and there are obvious cultural and religious differences between regions. The Sikh background of Punjab gives the local English literature its own character. This makes the Indian cultural background of Indian English literature present a non-singular and pluralistic form.

  What really gave Indian English novels an international reputation was the emergence of the "Three Great Masters" of Indian English novels in the 1930s: Mulk Raj Anand, RK Narayan and Raja Rao. Although Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, the international reputation of Indian English literature has been raised a notch. However, the reputation of novels with larger social capacity and wider coverage is based on the creation of the "Three Great Masters". In the 1930s, their respective masterpieces Untouchable Untouchables (1935), Swami and Friends (1935) and Ghentpur (1938) appeared simultaneously in just a few years, truly establishing the The foundations of modern Indian English fiction.

  Anand's greatest contribution is to contribute a theme or a line of thought to Indian English literature, which is the description of the oppressed and damaged people such as the untouchables, coolies and workers. He featured the untouchable Bakha as the protagonist in The Untouchable Untouchables, which was previously unimaginable in Indian English literature. Untouchables are the lowest social class under the four surnames in the Indian caste system. They have been suppressed at the bottom of Indian society for thousands of years. The untouchables issue has always been one of the difficult problems plaguing Indian politics. Political leaders such as Gandhi, Nehru, and Abe Dekar have all made clear statements and actions on the Dalit issue. Anand's creations are obviously influenced by the Russian-Soviet-style socialist realism. Anand's creations in the 1930s and 1940s can be said to be a national allegory of the social life of the bottom people in India at that time.

  RK Narayan's special contribution is that he tells the stories of ordinary Indians in very plain, plain English. He is committed to the creation of the southern town of "Morgudi", which can be called a spiritual epic of the life of the local people in the middle and early 20th century India. Narayan is not high-flying. He is always careful to stay away from the times and politics. His success shows the possibility of combining English with the secular life of India. Some argue that the first Indian postcolonial novel should be RK Narayan's Swami and Friends, even though it was published a full 12 years before India became independent. Later Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Child" and Arundhati Roy's "God of Small Things" continued this tradition, because these works all followed a form, which is to use A child's perspective on issues such as country, culture, and class identity.

  Raja Rao's unique contribution is that he established depth for Indian English literature. Rao's early works such as "Ghentpur" have similar ideas to Narayan, that is, to write about group life based on a fixed living space. In his later years, his creations moved to a mysterious and profound realm, winning by interpreting traditional Indian philosophy. Rao believed in Vedanta philosophy, and his novels such as "Snake and Rope", "Cat and Shakespeare", "Chess King and Chess" all contain esoteric and abstract Indian philosophy. And this is what Western critics value. According to the statistics of Chinese scholar Prof. Yan Zhiqiang, Rao lived in Western countries for more than 50 years. Among the "Three Great Masters", he also has the highest status in the West. To some extent, Rao's success is due to the charm of traditional Indian culture.

  Before the independence of India, the highest point of Indian English novels was established by the "Three Great Masters".


  2. Indian English Novels


  in the 1947-80s In 1947, when India became independent, Indian social life underwent tremendous changes. Indian English novels continue with their former dynamism. The "Three Great Masters" continued to work hard and each contributed high-level works. Their long creations became a testimony to the vitality of Indian English literature.

  In addition to them, a large group of high-level novelists has emerged in the English-language fiction world of India. The main representatives of the 1950s and 1970s were Bhapani Badacharya (1906-1988), Manohar Margonkar (1913-), Ruth Prava Jahabwala (1927 - ) Anita Desai (1937 - ) and Kushwent Singh (1915 - ), and others, of course, can not forget VS Naipaul (1932 - ) who joined the British nationality early. The ages of these writers are very different, spanning the vast period from the 1910s to the 1930s; the cultural backgrounds are also quite different, some are Sikhs, some are Hindus, and some have foreign cultural backgrounds. Therefore, there are multiple tendencies in the creation of novels at this stage. According to their own cultural background and literary tastes, the writers, the Eight Immortals cross the sea, show their abilities, and push the creative situation of considerable breadth and depth created by the "Three Great Masters" to an abnormal level. Rich and diversified pattern, and has a higher artistic content.

  Bhattacharya's age is actually similar to the "Three Great Masters", but his first feature "The Great Famine" came out in 1947, and his main works basically appeared after independence. Badacharya's literary approach is quite similar to that of Anand, basically using realism to describe the whole society in a macroscopic manner with an omniscient and omnipotent perspective and a third-person tone.

  Manohar Margoncar's masterpiece of novels "The Prince of the Land" came out in 1963. This book, together with Anand's "The Private Life of a Maharaja", is known as the two most famous books describing the post-independence land reform. work. The novel vividly depicts an aristocratic prince doing nothing all day, hunting to pass the time; after the promulgation of the land reform law, he was traumatized, and he hunted tigers with his bare hands and eventually died of tiger claws. Independence is like a giant gate, which interrupted the dream of local political independence of princes and princes. The modern nation-state has changed the concept of time and space of the Indian people. The tragedy of the prince can be summed up in one word - born at the wrong time. In the new realm of time and space, he lost the ego and status that history had given him.

  The female writer Jahabwala has a special identity. She was originally of German descent. She followed her husband to settle in India, and then went to live in the United States in her later years. Her novels "Backward Region" (1966), "A New Territory" (1972), "Hot and Dust" (1975) and so on mainly reflect the collision and conflict between Indian culture and Western culture. She is good at writing about Westerners living or traveling in India, trying to answer the question of whether Westerners are worth living in India. In a way, her work is a spiritual continuation of Amore Foster's Journey to India.

  Anita Desai is a woman writer with high artistic accomplishment. She is good at using psychological description methods such as stream of consciousness, starting from the female writer's own feelings, to develop and excavate female consciousness. Many commentators have compared her to Chekhov and Woolf. Among writers at this stage, the level of delicacy of her brushwork should be unparalleled.

  Kushvint Singh succeeded Srida Jojendra Singh as another outstanding English writer in the history of Sikh English literature. His long works "The Train to Pakistan" (1956) and "I Will Not Hear the Nightingale Sing" (1959) mainly reflect the social problems of India during the independence period and the human tragedy caused by the partition of India and Pakistan. Singer is known for his vigorous writing and has written more than 100 books so far. Because of his seniority and prestige, Singh has a high prestige among living Indian writers.
  Of these writers, Naipaul has the greatest fame, which apparently has to do with his winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. Naipaul was born in British Trinidad to Indian ancestry who moved to the Caribbean; he studied and wrote in England before settling in England altogether. Naipaul has repeatedly stressed that he is a British writer, clearly showing a tired of India's imprint. His India trilogy takes the form of a travelogue with various censures against India. Whether readers like him or not, he is one of the various voices questioning India that cannot be ignored. He is of Indian descent and holds an anti-Indian stance, a gesture that the West appreciates. Naipaul's English standard is very high, and his writing is also among the best among British writers.
  In general, Indian English novels after independence and before the 1980s showed a trend of blooming. This set the stage for the next phase of a powerful eruption of English literature in India.
  3. Indian English novels after the 1980s It is after the 1980s that Indian English novels
  are further improved to the world level and generally recognized by the English-speaking world. Indian English novels have released the shocking power of Latin America's "literary explosion"!
  In the 1980s, the literary giant Salman Rushdie emerged in Indian English literature. Rushdie's masterpiece and famous work is "Midnight's Child", the title "Midnight" symbolizes the independence of India in 1947, the author himself was born in that year. A group of supernatural children represented by the protagonists Salim and Shiva were born when Nehru declared India's independence to the world. Due to accidental factors, the identities of the two were replaced, symbolizing the mixed state of cultures at the time of India's independence. Salim is the leader of the Midnight Sons, often bringing them together to discuss plans for building India. Salim's identity has a strong cultural symbol. He was the illegitimate child of Hindus and Christians, but was accidentally sent to a Muslim home to raise him. The cultures represented by these three identities are the most important cultures at the beginning of India's independence. The process of India's independence was carried out in a state of intermingling and mixing of various cultures. The novel has a strong sense of history. It was written from 1919 to 1977, covering major historical events such as the rise of Gandhi, the independence movement, the partition of India and Pakistan, the conflict in East Bengal, and the state of emergency law. Through imaginary, exaggerated, and even bizarre plot structures, Rushdie makes the work have a "magic" color, and at the same time makes the novel have the attributes of postmodern fiction. The most important thing is that Rushdie's works represented by "Midnight Child" adopt a rather historical and imaginative writing style, which combines the Indian present with history, personal life and national politics, fiction and reality, forming a very A complex, review-style ideographic system opens up thinking for future writing in Indian English. At the same time, the mysterious color in Rushdie's style is also close to the western mainstream society's imagination and value judgment of Eastern India. Rushdie can be said to be the leading writer of contemporary Indian English literature, and also the most prestigious among the Indian writers living in the West. For the study of Indian English literature, Rushdie is definitely an inescapable figure.
  After the 1980s, important writers such as Vikram Seth, Alan Healy (1951- ), Amitwa Golds (1956- ), Rosington Mistry (1952- ) and so on appeared again . These writers either chose to live overseas, for example, Coats settled in New York, and Mistry lived in Canada; or, like Seth, insisted on writing at home. These writers form the mainstay of English-language fiction in India today. In the 1990s, Indian English novels entered the most active period, and also attracted great attention from the international book market. For example, the publication of Seth's novel "Wuyi Langjun". The first edition of the book was 1,349 pages long, setting a record for the length of a single-volume novel in English. The book was translated into many languages ​​and quickly became an international bestseller. In order to cooperate with the publisher's actions, Dorset has also embarked on a "promotional" journey non-stop. He spent 7 years traveling through many countries where Ruyi Langjun has been introduced or translated, reading novel chapters in public. "This kind of international promotion is part of modern literary life, showing global market relations in a state of cultural hybridity."
  If we were to do an instalment of Indian English-language novelists active in the post-1980s, we might as well follow their age of birth. Judging from academic evaluation and international reputation, the representative born in the 1940s must be Salman Rushdie (born in 1947); the representative born in the 1950s is Vikram Sait (born in 1952); The representative who was born in the 1960s is the female writer Arundhati Roy (born in 1961, introduced in the first issue of this magazine in 2009). The good news is that these generations of writers are still not old, and novelists born in the 1970s have emerged with a strong attitude. For example, two rookies who won the Booker Award in 2006 and 2008: Kieran Desai and Alavind Adiga (introduced in the third issue of this issue in 2009). The former was born in 1971, and the latter was born in 1974, and both of them were less than 40 years old, and they won the crown of English novel awards one after another, which is really impressive. Their presence has repeatedly demonstrated that the lineup of contemporary English-language novelists in India is astounding. We can fully imagine that for a long time to come, Indian English novels will remain vigorous and will achieve higher achievements.



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