Shakespeare in India:Shakespearean Studies in India with the Introduction of English Education in India (Assamese) in the Early Nineteenth Century


Historians may assess the British occupation of India in different ways with much good that this occupation brought and more evil that it left behind. But perhaps no one will disagree that introduction of  William Shakespeare   on Indian sub-continent was an act of unmixed good which continued to shed its rays on the Indian literary scene even when the sun had set in the Indian Empire of Shakespeare’s countrymen.

There is broad possibility of   Shakespeare   studies in India with the introduction of English education in India in the early nineteenth century. Reading and teaching of Shakespeare formed part of English educational institutions ostensibly raj but as it so often happens in history such processes once started served other and more important causes. Read More about Indian English   Shakespeare thus could not be confined within the class-room and his influences extended to the vital region of the Indian vernacular languages and also affected the Indian stage and reading of Shakespeare, translation and adaptation of Shakespeare acting after Shakespeare and allied drama to affect Indian literature in general and poetry in particular.
In discussing the influence and impact of  Shakespeare , we shall deal with the Indian vernacular language Assamese here. In Assam which came under the direct control of the British in 1826, the advent of Shakespeare was simultaneously heralded by the staging of Shakespeare plays in British clubs and on special occasions when a selected few had the first opportunity to watch such performances from a close quarter. This chance acquaintance of a few with Shakespeare was broadened when assumes students in Calcutta (Kolkata) came into frequent contact with Shakespeare acting and teaching along with their Bengali counterparts. 
With the spread of English education in Assam, the Assamese intelligentsia came into closer contact with Shakespeare and was deeply impressed. Shakespeare’s influence on Assamese literature is three-fold. There is the direct impact on dramatic literature and the indirect influence of Shakespeare stories on Assamese novels and narrative poems. The third influence to Assamese poetry proper.  The dramatic literature of Assam was influenced by Shakespeare through formal innovations, new technique of characterization and direct translation. The high priests of the new drama after Shakespeare were Lakshminath Bezborua and Padmanath Gohain who not only followed the form and technique of Shakespeare’s plays but also the Shakespearean way of characterization. Read More about Indian English   
A more comprehensive assimilation of  Shakespeare was effected by a group of four young Assamese who were educated in Calcutta Collages, namely, Ratnabhar Barua, Gunanjan Borua, Ghanashyam Borea and Ramakanta Barkakati. Together they translated the Comedy of Errors under the title of Bhramranga. The poet-philosopher Durgeshwar Sharma modeled two of his play, namely, Chandravati and Padmavati on As You Like It and Cymbeline respectively. Read More about Indian English  Debananda Varati’s Bhimdarpa is an echo of Macbeth while Padmadhar Chaliha's’ Amar Lila is an adaption of Romeo and Juliet. Atulchandra Hazarika recreated The Merchant of Venice and King Lear in Assamese. Shakespeare influenced the Assamese novel  mainly through Lamb's Tales From Shakespeare from   which the young Assamese novelists learnt to incorporate Shakespearean plot-outlines and character-sketches in their works. Read More about Indian English As regards poetry proper, Shakespeare remains an effective inspiration for many successful poetic flights including Hiteswar Barua’s Desdemona.  
Ardhendu De
Ardhendu De

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