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Indian English Literature

  • Date Submitted: 11/03/2012 05:07 AM
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Chapter-1
Introduction

1

Chapter-1
Introduction
Indian English literature originated as a necessary outcome of the
introduction of English education in India under colonial rule. In recent years it
“has attracted widespread interest, both in India and abroad.”1 It is now recognized
that Indian English literature is not only part of Commonwealth literature, but also
occupies a “great significance in the World literature.”2

Today, a number of Indian writers in English have contributed
substantially to modern English literature. Ram Mohan Roy who heralded the
Indian Renaissance and Macaulay who recommended English language education
in India were probably aware of what was in store for the Indians in terms of
literary awareness. Today it “has won for itself international acclaim and
distinction.”3

Fiction, being the most powerful form of literary expression today, has
acquired a prestigious position in Indian English literature. It is generally agreed
that the novel is the most suitable literary form for the exploration of experiences
and ideas in the context of our time, and Indian English fiction occupies its proper
place in the field of literature. There are critics and commentators in England and
America who appreciate Indian English novels. Prof. M. K. Naik remarks:

…one of the most notable gifts of English education
to India is prose fiction for though India was
probably a fountain head of story-telling, the novel
as we know today was an importation from the
West.4

It was in Bengal that a literary renaissance first manifested itself, but
almost immediately afterwards its traces could be seen in Madras, Bombay and

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other parts of India. The first Indian English novel was Bankim Chandra
Chatterjee’s Raj Mohan’s Wife (1864). It is different from his Bengali novels such
as Durgesh Nandini or Kopal Kandla. In fact, it paved the way for Anand Math
(1884), Indian’s first political novel which gave the Indians their...

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