Modern Writing In India

From being a curious native explosion, Indian English has become a new form of Indian culture, and voice in which India speaks. While Indian authors - poets, from being a curious native explosion, Indian English has become a new form of Indian culture, and voice in which India speaks. While Indian authors - poets, novelists, essayists, dramatists ' have been making significant contributions to world literature since the pre-Independence era, the past few years have seen a massive flourishing of Indian English writing in the international market. Not only are the works of Indian authors writing in English soaring on the best-seller list, they are also receiving a great deal of critical acclaim. Starting from Mulk Raj Anand, R. K. Narayan, Anita Desai, Toru Dutt to Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Allan Sealy, Amitav Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Arundhati Roy and Vikram Chandra, the parade of fine Indian writers is long and growing longer every year. Here, you can explore the interesting history of Indian writing in English, and also experience its various facets, as expressed in Indian English literature, plays and movies, and other media.

Rabindranath Tagore is an Indian writer and philosopher best known for his poetry. Winner of the 1913 Nobel Prize for literature, Tagore was born in 1861, during the British colonial era in India. Through lecturing in different countries, founding a school (later a university) in 1901, and writing on social and political themes, Tagore sought to impart a greater understanding between Western and Eastern philosophies, religions and cultures. He wrote mostly in Bengali, but translated many of his own works into English.

Of the early examples of modern writing in India, some of the best were in poetry. Famed writer Rabindranath Tagore began his career in the late 19th century with innovative poetry in the Bengali language, but he also drew on traditional forms of poetry and performance. Perhaps his best-known work is Gitanjali (Song Offerings, 1910), a collection of poems. Many of Tagore's poetic and musical dramas, such as Dak-ghar (The Post Office, 1912), were performed at Shantiniketan, the school that he founded near Calcutta. In 1913 Tagore won the Nobel Prize for literature, becoming the first non-European winner of the award.

In the early 20th century, Sarojini Naidu emerged as a leading writer and political figure in India. She first campaigned for women's rights and better conditions for workers and then became involved in the Indian nationalist movement, which sought to gain India's independence from Britain.

Two female poets of the time, Toru Dutt and Sarojini Naidu, both Bengalis by birth, distinguished themselves with works in English. Dutt died when she was only 21, but Naidu had a long and illustrious career in literature and politics. The Golden Threshold (1905) is a major collection of her poems focussing on themes relating to Indian cultural traditions and Indian women's lives. Naidu also wrote speeches and essays, and she became a leader of the nationalist movement, which sought independence from Britain. Subramania Bharathi wrote some of the earliest prose and poetry in the modern form of the Tamil language. His poems reflect his passionate dedication to the cause of freedom from British rule and his desire for progress of India as a modern nation. Other authors, such as the noted Hindi poets Sacchidanand Vatsyayan, Suryakant Tripathi and Mahadevi Varma (a female author and winner of the literature prize of the Indian Academy of Letters), wrote works of a more introspective, personal character.

The novel and short story, both new forms in Indian writing, dominated modern Indian literature in the 19th century. Writers used these genres to create realistic portrayals of individuals and to address contemporary social issues. This marked a change from earlier Indian literature, much of which was preoccupied with ideals and broad social types. The new authors came from the English-educated class of Indians and were influenced by the progressive ideals of the Bengal Renaissance. They also participated in the rising movement for political rights and representative government for Indians. Nationalism and the criticism of oppressive social practices were favourite topics among the writers of the period.

'Novel' as a literary form is new to India. Epics, lyrics, dramas, short stories and fables existed in India, many centuries before peoples in other parts of the world had learnt even to speak properly. But 'Novel' which can be otherwise called 'the long sustained piece of prose fiction' came at a period of little earlier than a century. The Indians had to wait till the latter half of the nineteenth century when the western impact on India resulted in the use of formal written prose. The prose form was first used as a functional medium and then as an artistic medium. The Bible was translated into several Indian languages. Later the translations of Western classics, including novels, followed.

The first novel written in Bengali was Alaler Gharer Dulal which means 'spoilt son of a rich family'. It was published in 1858. The first novel published in English was Rajmohan's Wife written by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee in the year 1864 but he then turned to his native language of Bengali. He is best known for the novel Ananda Math . Then there was a rapid succession of novels.

The poet Rabindranath Tagore was also a major prose writer, and a pioneer writing short-stories in Bengali. His short stories, such as the ones in The Hungry Stones and Other Stories (1916), depict the lives of ordinary villagers in East Bengal. Tagore's contemporary, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, and one of the leaders of the Bengal Renaissance, had turned to writing in the Bengali language after writing a novel in English, Rajmohan's Wife (1864). Chatterjee's Bengali novels deal with contemporary social issues such as the pitiful condition of widows (Bishabriksha - The Poison Tree - 1873) and with historical and nationalist themes'as in Ananda Math (The Abbey of Bliss, 1882). Tagore provoked controversy with his criticism of nationalism in his most famous novel, Ghare-baire (1915) and The Home and the World (1919). Writers from other regions began working in regional languages in the late 1800s.Govardhanram Tripathi's novel in the Gujarati language Saraswatichandra (1887), and Chandu Menon's Malayalam work Indulekha (1889) are only two of the many examples. Many of the works of Tagore, Chatterjee, and other novelists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries focus on the ways in which Indian women of the middle and upper classes were oppressed by their lack of economic opportunity, education and freedom of movement. The heroines of Tagore's novels Nashtanir (1901) and Ghare-baire as well as the female characters in his short stories, represent the oppression not only of women but of all people. A concern with domestic life dominated the fiction of the popular writers of the following era, such as the Bengali novelists Saratchandra Chatterjee and Ashapurna Devi.

Source: Essay UK -

Not what you're looking for?


About this resource

This English Language essay was submitted to us by a student in order to help you with your studies.


No ratings yet!

  • Order a custom essay
  • Download this page
  • Print this page
  • Search again

Word count:

This page has approximately words.



If you use part of this page in your own work, you need to provide a citation, as follows:

Essay UK, Modern Writing In India. Available from: <> [22-03-18].

More information:

If you are the original author of this content and no longer wish to have it published on our website then please click on the link below to request removal:

Essay and dissertation help