Indo Anglian Literature

Posted by Freddy on Oct-9-2010

In my previous post I have shared about the Anglo Indian Art and Architecture. This time I would like to discuss about the Indo-Anglian literature.

Indo Anglian literature is usually described as Indian writing in English. Even before the Macaulay’s Minute, Indians used to write in English. Ram Mohan Roy was the first of those notable Indian sages who have expressed themselves in English. Toru Dutt who was born in 1856 made some effective translations of French, ‘Le Journal de Mademoiselle d’ Avers, and an unfinished English novel, Bianca. Romesh Chander Dutt was a considerable scholar and translator. Rabindranath Tagore was the great name in Bengali literature.

The Indian writing in English began to get noticed and seriously discussed only with the arrival of a number of novelists in the 1930s. And their works, in its totality, contributed to the legitimation of the Indian literature written in English. There are those who argue that the effort to express one’s deepest human experiences in a foreign language is a blind alley, lined with curio shops, leading to nowhere.

It was in 1930s, that the Indian began with what has now turned out to be a substantial contribution to the novel in English, and one that particularly suited their talent. Three of these writers belonged not only to an intrinsic distinction but the peculiarly important attaching to inaugurators. They were R.K. Narayan, Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao. It was these three who defined the area in which the Indian novel was to operate. They established the suppositions, the manner, the idiom, the concept character, and the nature of the themes which were to give the Indian novel its particular distinctiveness. Each of them used an easy, natural if old fashioned idiom which they succeeded in freeing from the foggy taste of the British inheritance.

R.K. Narayan, an extremely prolific writer, has written several fine novels such as ‘Swami and Friend’, ‘The bachelor of Art’, ‘The Guide’, ‘The Financial Expert’ and ‘Waiting for the Mahatma’. Mulk Raj Anand, is mainly known for his novels like ‘Coolie’ and ‘Untouchable’. Raja Rao, in comparison has written very little but whatever he has written like ‘Kanthapura’ and ‘The serpent’ and ‘The rope’ has turned out to be a profoundly philosophical reflection of life. There are several other novelists like Bhabani Bhattacharya, G.V. Desani, Balachandra Rajan, Aurbrey Menon, Khushwant Singh who have contributed to the Indo Anglian literature.

In poetry, after the early efforts of Toru Dutt, Sri Aurobindo, Rabindranath Tagore and Sarojini Naidu, the 1950s witnessed a remarkable upsurge, with a host of new poets emerging in the poetic scene with entirely different conception of art and life. Kamala Das, A.K. Ramanujam, R. Parthasarathy, Pritish Nandy are some the contributors of great poetry.
The 1980s witnessed another remarkable upsurge in Indian writing in English especially in fiction, with Salman Rushdie’s landmark novel ‘Midnight Children’, grabbing the headlines as well as the coveted Booker prize. Thus followed a stream of young writers pushed on by a newly emerging high visibility media hype and a publishing boom to boot. Vikram Seth, Shashi Tharoor, Namita Gokhale, Anitha Desai, Amitav Ghosh, Allan Sealy, Upamanyu Chatterjee these names signify a new found vitality in the literature written in English. And the spectacular success of Arundhati Roy’s ‘God of Small Things’ underlines the fact that this new literature is a dynamic representation of our post-colonial condition.

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