M.Phil Dissertation Paper

Topics: India, Indian English literature, Kiran Desai Pages: 15 (7204 words) Published: December 20, 2012


Introduction to Indian Literature: Indian Writings in English

“Under English rule in India”, writes Mr. Arthur Mayhew, “the impact of two civilizations may have produced unrest. But it has also sustained and stimulated life.” It is an extraordinary story of endurance, assimilation and integral transformation. Such was the ‘moment’, the phoenix-hour that bred Indo-Anglican literature, sometimes with solemn self-consciousness, but sometimes as naturally-unselfconsciously-as leaves grow upon a tree. Indians learnt at first to read, speak and comprehend English, and they soon started writing too. Once this started, Indian writing in English had to rage from the most utilitarian prose to the most ambitious verse-epics, for example! On the other hand Indian writing in English was but one manifestation of the new creative urge in India-what is often referred to as the literary renaissance in India. The filiations between modern Indian literatures (including Indo-Anglican Literature) and English literature have been close, and the links have been renewed from time to time, and the student of literary history and of comparative literature can find much to interest him in this phenomenon. India has a sizable population that has English as either primary or secondary language of communication. This is precisely because India had been a colony of the then British Empire for close to 200 years. Its association with British and hence English is even older. Emperor Jahangir granted William Hawkins permission to trade in India in the year 1608 and that was when English put its first step. In the due course of history, British concluded their conquest of India and spread English language along with the empire. English replaced Persian as the court language in early 19th century and understanding English became a matter of survival for the urban class rather that a matter of pride. As a new block of population started to emerge from the grassroots, English spread its wings. Most of the early exponents of English Literature in India were British though. The likes of George Orwell, Rudyard Kipling and Jim Corbett gave the initial push that was later carried on by several British authors. Rabinda Nath Tagore and Sarojini Naidu who contributed a lot to the English literature initially represented the natives but it was only in mid seventies that a new breed of boarding-school educated, elite brand of English authors started to appear on the radar. These writers gave much-needed oxygen to English literature with their crisp, tongue-in-cheek and realistic fictions that were read all over the world. The present condition of Indian English literature is heartening. New crops of English language writers are replacing the old breed and are representing India through their unique writings. Some of them have even won prestigious Booker Award. This has led to a sudden surge in the number of books published in English every year. New breed of English writers are trying to break glass ceiling. They are venturing in to newer genres by refusing to follow dotted lines. With English language becoming part of curriculum, the number of people knowing English language is increasing rapidly in every consecutive census. This is opening newer windows for the Indian English writers to experiment. In present context, with all its pros and cons, the future of English Literature in India looks nothing but bright. Indian Women Writers:

Traditionally, the work of Indian women writers has been undervalued due to patriarchal assumptions about the superior worth of male experience. One factor contributing to this prejudice is the fact that most of these women write about the enclosed domestic space, and women’s perceptions of their experience within it. Consequently, it is assumed...
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