Indian English Literature: Changing Trends and History

Topics: Indian English literature, Salman Rushdie, India Pages: 8 (2985 words) Published: August 19, 2013
Indian English novels refer to the various novels by writers in India who write in the English language and whose native or co-native language could be one of the numerous languages of India. It is also associated with the works of members of the Indian Diaspora, such as V. S. Naipaul, Kiran Desai, Jhumpa Lahiri and Salman Rushdie, who are of Indian descent. It is frequently referred to as Indo-Anglian literature. As a category, this production comes under the broader realm of postcolonial literature-the production from previously colonised countries such as India. With the arrival of the British in India and the spread of English language through education, was born and since its birth had been blooming and changing with time. Most of Indian English writers are bi-lingual, some equally proficient in English and the mother tongue, and some more in one than in the other. The background and the situations are usually Indian but the characters may often be drawn from bilingual milieus. Expressing the heartbeats of one culture in the language of another poses its own problems and it is doubtless that there is an inner urge to render in English the rhythms, images, idioms and proverbs of the local speech. Thus one of the most outstanding and interesting characteristics of Indian writing in English is that the background is Indian and the language though foreign has adopted itself to the needs of the Indians. Today Indian English as well as Indian writing in English has got its own identity and charm.

Indian English novels have a relatively recent history; it is only one and a half centuries old. The first book written by an Indian in English was by Sake Dean Mahomet, titled Travels of Dean Mahomet; Mahomet's travel narrative was published in 1793 in England. Early Indian writers used English unadulterated by Indian words to convey an experience which was essentially Indian. Raja Rao's Kanthapura in terms of its storytelling qualities was essentially Indian. It is perhaps the finest representation of the Gandhian whirlwind in Indian English fiction. It presents the Gandhian ideology of non-violence and abolition of untouchability. Rabindranath Tagore wrote in Bengali and English and was responsible for the translations of his own work into English. Dhan Gopal Mukerji was the first Indian author to win a literary award in the United States. Nirad C. Chaudhuri, a writer of non-fiction, is best known for his The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian where he relates his life experiences and influences.  The pre-independence period witnessed a slow growth of Indian English novel since the publication of Bankimchand Chatterjee's Ram Mohan's Wife in 1864. The novelists of this period mainly wrote under the influence of Gandhism and nationalism. They devoted their novels, one the one hand, to the exposition of social evils, customs & traditions, rites & rituals, poverty & illiteracy, bonds & bondages and, on the other, made their works a powerful medium of highlighting the east-west encounter and of spreading the nationalistic ideas of the great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi. R.K. Narayan is a writer who contributed over many decades and who continued to write till his death. R. K. Narayan, who began his series of Malgudi novels with Swami & Friends in (1933), added a new dimension to the novel of social reforms. Narayan created the fictitious town of Malgudi where he set his novels. Some criticise Narayan for the parochial, detached and closed world that he created in the face of the changing conditions in India at the times in which the stories are set. Others, such as Graham Greene, however, feel that through Malgudi they could vividly understand the Indian experience. Narayan's narration of small town life and its experiences through the eyes of the endearing child protagonist Swaminathan in Swami and Friends is a good sample of his writing style. Simultaneous with Narayan's stories, a...

Bibliography: *
* Williams, H.M., Indo Anglian Literature 1800-1970, (Orient Longman eBooks, 1976) p.90
* boom.html
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