Bengali Literature

  BENGALI LITERATUREWRITERS


Michael Madhusudan Dutt

Bankimchander Chatterjee
Rabindranath Tagore
Saratchandra Chattopadhyay
Bibhuti Bhushan Bandyapadhyay
Tarasankar Bandyopadhyay
Banaphul
Bimal Mitra
Samaresh Babu
Badal Sarkar
Mahasweta Devi






Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1824-1873): Born in Jessore (now in Bangladesh) wrote in English as well as Bengali. He invented a metre called Amirtakshar Chhande (blank verse) and created a bengali language of his own, borrowing difficult and unknown words from Sanskrit. His Meghnabadh Kavya (The Poem on the Killing of Meghnad) is the most famous epic in Bengali. In his life Dutt wrote many revolutionary poems, dramas and prose works. His long poem The Captive Lady, written in English is a masterpiece. All his life, Dutt read the European classics and travelled almost the whole of Europe. Krishnakumari, Vrajangana, and Virangana are his other poems. He died a pauper.

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Bankimchander Chatterjee (1838-1894): Bankimchander, the finest product of the 19th century renaissance is regarded as the pioneer of the novel in Bengal. His first fiction to appear in print was Rajmohan's Wife. It was written in English and was probably a translation of the novelette submitted for the prize. Durgeshnandini, his first Bengali romance, was published in 1865. The next novel Kapalkundala (1866) is one of the best romances written by Chatterjee. Mrinalini, Vishbriksha, Chandrasekhar, Rajani, Krishnakanter Uil (Krishnakanta's Will, 1878), Rajsimha, Anandamath (The mission house of the Anandas, 1882), Devi Caudhurani, Kamalakanter Daptar (The Scribbling of Kamalakanta, 1875; enlarged as Kamalakanta, 1885) are some of his great works. Bankim Chatterjee was superb story-teller, and a master of romance. He was a path finder and a path maker. Chatterjee represented the English-educated Bengalee with a tolerably peaceful home life, sufficient wherewithal and some prestige, as the bearer of the torch of western enlightment. No Bengali writer before or since has enjoyed such spontaneous and universal popularity as Chatterjee. His novels have been translated in almost all the major languages of India, and have helped to simulate literary impulses in those languages.

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Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941): Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, mystic, philosopher, musician, painter and Nobel laureate for literature is among the leading personalities of Modern India. He was awarded the Nobel prize in Literature for his collection of well known poems Gitanjali. Rabindranath Tagore entered the field of Bengali Novel following the glorious tradition of the great pioneer novelist Bankimchandra Chatterjee (1834-'94). His first two novels Bauthakuranir Hat (Daughter-in-Law's Market, 1883) and Rajarshi (The Saintly King, 1887) are historical novels. Chokher Bali (Eyesore, 1903) is one among the great social novels he wrote. His other notable works include Sonartari, Kalpana and Chitra. In 1901, Tagore established Shantiniketan, (near Bolpur, Bengal) an institution blending Indian and Western methods of education.Between 1916 and 1941, Tagore published 21 collections of songs and poems and held lecture tours across Europe, the Americas, China, Japan, Malaya, Indonesia etc. In 1924, he inaugurated the VISVA BHARATI UNIVERSITY at Shantiniketan, an All India Centre for culture.Tagore's works are classics, renowned for their lyrical beauty and spiritual poignancy. He is remembered for his literary genius. In Tagore's own words, "The world speaks to me in colours, my soul answers in music". Crescent Moon is his famous book of poems. Tagore was also the author of our National Anthem Jana Gana Mana. Gora is one of his best novels. His book Sadhana is known for its philosophical significance.

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Saratchandra Chattopadhyay (1876-1938):

Bengali novel originated from Bankimchandra, Tagore modernised it and Saratchandra set the trends of realism and protest in it. Some of Saratchandra's stories are very striking for their obvious sincerity and basic realism. These include Bindur chele (Bindu's Son, 1913), Ramer Sumati (Ram Returning to Sanity, 1914), Araksanya (The Girl Whose Marriage is Overdue, 1916), etc. Saratchandra's earliest writings show striking influence of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee. In Devdas (written in 1901, published 1917), Parinita (The Married Girl, 1914), Biraj Bau (Mrs. Biraj, 1914) and Palli Samaj (The Village Commune, 1916), the themes and their treatment are not very much different from the older Chatterjee's but they are presented in a modernistic setting and in an easier and more matter-of-fact language. To name some important works : Srikanta in four parts (1917,1918,1927,1933), Charitrahin (Character-less, 1917), Biraj Bau (1914), Palli Samaj (1916), the first part of Devdasa (his first novel) and his first published short story Mandir (1904). It may be noted that these (with the exception of the last two part of Srikanta) belong to the first phase of Chatterjee's literary career, that is up to 1913. Grihadaha (Home Burnt, 1919). Datta (The Girl Given Away, serialized 1917-19) and Dena-Paona (debts and demands, 1923) and Pather Dabi (The Demand of the Road, 1926). are his other works.. His last complete novel Ses Prasna (The Final Question, 1931) is an attempt at the 'intellectual' novel where the meager theme is inflated by high brow talks on problems of the individual and of the society relating principally to love and marriage.

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Bibhuti Bhushan Bandyapadhyay (1894-1950): An inimitable lyricist in prose, Bibhuti Bushan extended the perceptive world of Bengali fiction by his single contribution to the appreciation of the beauty of rural Bengal. He is renowned for his novel Pather Panchali (Saga of the Road) which was made into a great film by Satyajit Ray. Aparajita, a sequel to Pather Panchali is another of his great novel Some of the stories that Bibhuti had written earlier show him at his best. Among these may be mentioned Umarani (first published in 1922) and Pui-mancha (The Kitchen Garden Scaffolding; first published 1925). These and his later short stories are collected in more than a dozen volumes, such as Meghmallar (1931), Mauriphul (1932), Jatra Badal (1934), etc. Banerjee's novels are not a few and they include besides those already mentioned: Dristipradeep (The Look- a lamp, 1935), Aaranyak (The Wild, 1949), Adarsa Hindu Hotel (1940), Bipiner Samsar (Bipin's Home, 1941), Devayan (Spirit's Path, 1944), Icchamati (1949) etc

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Tarasankar Bandyopadhyay (1898-1971): Tarasankar remains the best chronicler in Bengal so far as the decline and decay of the feudal fabric is concerned. Hansuli Banker Upakatha (The Tale of the Crescent Bend of the River Kopai) is one of his most outstanding novels.

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Banaphul (1899-1970): One of the major novelists of the post-Tagore period, Banaphul is famed for his two novels Sthavar (Stationary) and Jangam (Moving) based on the history of the human civilisation. Ratri (Night) and Dana are his poetis novels.

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Bimal Mitra (1912): Bimal Matra rose to eminence with his classic trilogy Saheb Bibi Golam (The Master, The Lady and the Slave), Kadi Diye Kinlam (Bought With Money) and Ekak, Dasak, Satak (Ones, Tens, Hundreds) spread over nearly three centuries of Bengal's social history. The thematic vein of his novels, on individual planes, is the travails of men of integrity within a value empty milieu.

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Samaresh Babu (1924-'88): One of the pioneers of Post-Second World War Bengali fiction, Samaresh Babu wrote 87 novels, 200 short stories and 20 travel-based novels. Ganga is one of his well-known novels

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Badal Sarkar (1925): An engineer by profession, Badal Sarkar earned fame mainly as a playwright introducing new forms of theatre movement. He has written about 50 plays of which Evam Indrajit and Basi Khabar (Stale News) are famous. Both these plays belong to the Theatre of the Absurd.

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Mahasweta Devi (1926): Considered one of the boldest of Bengali female writers since late 1950s, Mahasweta Devi wrote novels and short stories based on historical subjects as also on topics of social and political relevance. She has brought out the rebellious spirit of the tortured people of the past and the present with a rare blend of fact and fiction. Aranyer Adhikar (Rights over Forest) is one of her great novels. She is also a crusader for the rights of the tribals. She was given the Jnanpith award in1996 for her contribution to Indian literature. Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa, Rudali, Nati, Bioscoper Baksho, Hajar Churashir Ma, Chatti Munda O Tar Tir are considered to be her masterpieces.

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