Indian Writing in English

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Indian writing in English

Raja Rammohan Ray was the first Indian to effectively express himself in black and white through English though he was initiated to the language when he was in his teens. Thereafter Vivekananda showed his perfect masterly over the language through his evocative prose, which made the west sit up and take notice of the greatness of Hinduism.

Tagore also had written some poems in English. However, there is no denying the fact that Indian writings in English were extremely few far between. Jawaharlal Nehru and M.K. Gandhi were also great masters of the English language. Nehru's Discovery of India, Glimpses of World History etc. are glaring testimony to not only his profound scholarship but also his absolute mastery over writing lucid prose in the foreign language. Gandhiji used the language in his writings with utmost precision and desterity.

They were followed by the great triumvirate of Anand-Rao-Naryan, who were the first to make Indian writing in English popular among a sizable section of our English educated people. They primarily wrote fiction and their elegant styles soon caught the imagination of the common reader. Indian writing in English had finally arrived in 1930's after a marginal existence for over a century.

Mahatma Gandhi: Though Gandhi used his mother tongue, Gujarati, to write his famous autobiography, later translated into English by his secretary Mahadev Desai under the title The Story of My Experiments with Truth (1929), he used Hindi and English with masterly skill and use. As he lived through a eventful life among his people, who were attempting to liberate themselves from moral decadence, economic exploitation, and cultural subordination, Gandhi wrote, day and night, in and out of prisons, for his two journals, Young India and Harijan.

Rabindranath Tagore: The national awakening in Asia found its expression first in the Indian literature, and its foremost representative writer was Tagore (1861-1941). Tagore was the first Asian writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1913). Tagore represents a happy combination of the ancient Indian tradition and the new European consciousness. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his slim volume of poems entitled Gitanjali. Tagore gave Indian poetry a new type of lyric. Through his collection of stories entitled Galpa Guchchha, running into three volumes, Tagore set the pace of the modern short story in India. His famous novels, Gora and Ghare Baire reflect the genius of a supreme visionary.

In 1930s emerged the first major figures in the field of English literature in the shape of the "Big Three" of Indian fiction: Mulk Raj Anand, Raja Rao and R.K.Narayan. Mulk Raj Anand is the most westernized of the trio; Rao, while writing in English and using the genre of the novels has his roots in Sanskrit culture; Narayan's work occupies a middle ground between the approaches of his two illustrious contemporaries.

Anand's reputation was first established by his first two novels, Untouchable (1935), which gives an account of "a day in life" of a sweeper, and Coolie (1936), which follows the fortunes of a peasant boy uprooted from the land. His trilogy The Village (1939), Across The Black Waters (1940) and The Sword and the Sickle (1942) is an epic account of the gradual growth of the protagonis's revolutionary consciousness which may be seen as a microcosm of India's movement towards an awareness of the need for independence.

Raja Rao's first novel Kanthapura (1938) is his most straightforward. It gives an account of how her village's revolt against a domineering plantation owner comes to be informed by the Gandhian ideal of nonviolence. Rao's major work The Serpent and the Rope (1960) is regarded by some Indian critics as the most important Indian novel in English to have appeared to date. Rao has also publiched the short novels The Cat and Shakespeare (1965) and Comrade Kirillov (1976).

Nirad C....
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