A TO Z Literary Principles from History of English Literature: Note 85

A Set of 26 Objective Questions & Answers



a. Macaulay in his Minute on Education (English Education Act 1835) advocated the introduction of the study of English in India. It was the study of English language and literature that opened the Indians the window to western culture and galvanized them with the progressive ideals that prevailed in Europe at the time. It led to the upsurge of nationalism and the Indian Renaissance of the 19th century. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)

b. Henry Derozio published his poems in 1823 and Kashiprosad Ghose published The Shair and the Other Poems in 1830. They were not eminent poets but they are historically important, because they wrote in English much before Macaulay. 

c. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee was the first Indian writer of a novel in English- Rajmahan’s Wife published in 1864. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)

d. Toru Dutta wrote Bianca and The Young Spanish Maiden   published posthumously. Dutta was the first to write to capture the Indian ethos. She began her poetic career with A Sheaf gleaned in French Fields written when she was only nineteen years of age. It is a collection of translations of about 200 French poems. Here she shows much virtuosity in expressions and versification. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions) But her finest achievement her verse Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindusthan (1883) which includes the stories of Savitri, Sita, Prahlad, Dhruva etc. For the first time we come across Indian themes and Indian background in English poetry written by an Indian.

e. Drama was not attempted in early Indian English probably because it was difficult for the Indians to carry on conversations in English by the Indians. Indian English at the time was not as felicitous and fastidious as is worthy of conversational English. Mother tongue was the medium of communication and conversation among even the sophisticated Indians.

f. Monmohan Ghosh, brother of Sri Aurobindo Ghose wrote Love Songs and Elegies and Songs of Love and Death. He expresses his personal sorrows and sense of loneliness. There are some poems which show nostalgia for India. The technical perfection and the lyrical quality of his poems have earned for him an abiding place in Indo Anglican literature. George Samson calls him the most remarkable of Indian poets who wrote in English.

g. Sarojini Naidu interpreted the soul of India to the West and created  a sympathetic  Indian atmosphere. She began by imitating Keats and other English poets. Edmund Goose found it to be western in feeling and imagery. He advised her to attempt to reveal the heart of India and not a clever machine made imitator of the English classics. Her volumes The Golden Threshold, The Bird of Time and The Broken Wing are instinct with Indian spirit, thought and imagery. The Festival of Serpents is in the form of a devotional song and conveys an idea of the Hindu religious life. She uses Hindu theme and imagery in her Leila. Her image of the moon as ‘a caste-mark on the azure brows of Heaven” is a unique achievement of imagination in poetry in the English language. Sarojini Naidu has described typical Indian scenes in her poetry. She sings of the palanquin-bearers, lightly bearing their precious burden ‘like a pearl on a string’.Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)  She describes how the Coromandel fishers gather their nets from the shore and venture out upon the sea. She describes how the bangle-sellers carry their ‘shining loads’ to the temple to sell them to “happy daughters and happy wives”. Her metrical dexterity and craftsmanship show her mastery of English language and versification.

h. Rabindranath Tagore wrote mainly in Bengali language, but his English his devotional poems in Gitanjali has earned for him The Nobel Prize for Literature. His handling of poetic prose is an ‘impeccable metrical achievement.’ He perfected a kind of incantatory rhythmic prose and demonstrated that Indian thought and imagery can be as well expressed in English as in any Indian language.

i. Arabindo Ghose wrote in English, and his poems Urvasie, Love and Death, indo  in setting, sentiments and expression. His poems are full ol sensuous images and music and have a mystical note. They are close to the Vedic mantras.

j. Ramanujan’s first volume   Striders (1966) shows his mastery of image and expression. The title poem refers to water-insects that can stand motionless upon ‘The ripple skin/of a stream’. The title of Relations (1971) refers both to kin in India and to intimate connections between moments incongruous yet illuminating, from different periods of his life. He makes daring adventures into 20th century mind by the technique contradictions.

 k. The ideals of Indian struggle of freedom is reflected in  K. S, Venkataramani’s Murugan, The Tilller (1927) & Kandan, The Patriot (1932). With the publication of Raj Anand’s Untouchable (1935) and Coolie (1936) and Raja Rao’s Kanthapura(1938), the Anglo Indian novel has established itself in the estimation of the English readers.

 l.  Anand looks Indian life fully in the face.Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)  It is realistic novels, angry at injustice, satirical yet warm reveal generosity of heart and great sympathy with the unfortunate

— a hereditary latrine-cleaner in Untouchable, an itinerant labourer in Coolie and a simple villager in the trilogy The Village. In the Sword and the Sickle, profit and loss have replaced traditional moral imperatives. His fiction upholds the value of living and awareness.

m. R. K. Narayan’s deceptively simple English and ironic outlook make him particularly accessible to western readers. Swami and Friends, The Bachelor of Arts are episodic novels about boyhood and youthful self-exploration.Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)

n.  Malgudi, Narayan’s fictional south India town provides a solid realistic setting for his tragi-comedy of human aberrations and attainments. The Printer of Malgudi in USA and the pavement money lender in The Financial Expert. the outsiders causing havoc in The Man- eater of Malgudi show Narayan’s command over irony and clear narrative style.

o. The themes of loneliness, of rootlessness, and the exploration of the psyche are displayed in Anita Desai’s novels, By the Peacock and Voices in the City.

p. In recent times, a number of youngmen educated in England have made their marks as Indian novelists in English language. Among them, Solman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Amitava Ghose, Arundhati Roy, Upamanyu chatterjee have hit the media and have won international prizes. Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Seth’s The Golden Gate, Rohinton Mistry’s Fine Balance, Amitava Ghose’s The Shadow Lines, Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, Upamanyu Chatterjee’s English August have found a global dimension. They write on sex, style and sophistication of modern life. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions) They seldom reflect the Indian consciousness and only reveal their confused identities. They write in sophisticated English.

q. In 1980 Salman Rushdie published the novel Midnight’s Children. With this book, Rushdie became one of the first writers in English to employ magic realism. This technique, made famous by Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez in Cien años de soledad (1967; One Hundred Years of Solitude, 1970), blends fantasy and realism. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)

r. Midnight’s Children - The experience of moving with his family between India and Pakistan, and eventually emigrating to Britain, positioned Rushdie well to examine nationality in the late 20th century is noted for its insights into issues of personal and national identity in India and Pakistan as postcolonial nations.

s. Many Indians write good English in their prose works. Jawaharlal Nehru, Radhakrishnan, Nirad C. Choudhury have established their reputation as writers in English in England and western countries.

t. Indian writers have shown their deficiency in writing drama in English. Aurobindo’s plays Perseus, The Deliverer, Eric are written in the blank verse of Shakespeare and this sounds artificial and unnatural in the modern age. Prose plays like Harindranath’s Five Plays, Rahamin’s Daugher of India, Asif Currimboy’s The Tourist Mecca, the Dumb Dancer do not show the writer’s command over colloquial idioms. Dialogues are often dull and drab. Nissim Ezekiel in his plays Nabin and The Marriage Poem shows success in dialogue. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)

u. The Indian novel in English is characterised by a variety of themes, techniques and attitudes. They write clean English, but they seldom faithfully reflect the cultural contact and cultural change. Moreover, they seldom create three dimensional characters.

v. One of the most ambitious and innovative members of this group of authors is Amitav Ghosh. His novel The Shadow Lines (1988) simultaneously traces the histories of two families, one Indian and one British, and exposes the senseless nature of the violence that accompanied the division of the Indian state of Bengal, leading to the formation of East Pakistan in 1947 and then of Bangladesh in 1971. The Shadow Lines questions the validity of all sorts of boundaries, national and international.

w. Rushdie, Seth, Ghosh, and Roy are only a few of the many prominent Indian writers who have written powerful novels about living in a post-colonial world and who have gained attention on the world stage. The writings of these authors—with their innovative approaches, compelling drama, and masterful style—make Indian literature, especially that in English, one of the most robust national literatures in the modern world.

x. In 1988 Raja Roa received the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, an award given every two years to outstanding world writers. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)

y. In her novels and short stories about life in India, Anita Desai describes the aspirations and struggles of ordinary people in her homeland. She published her first novel, Cry, the Peacock, in 1963.

z. The current generation of South Asian writers in English appears largely unwilling to acknowledge Rabindranath Tagore as a forerunner. But the poet Nissim Ezekiel thought that he was too important a figure to be passed over, saying in a 1980 lecture that 'any educated Indian today and for a long time to come who has not had the profoundest possible Read More A to Z (Objective Questions) experience of Tagore has missed a crucial element in the shaping of modern Indian culture.' And in his introduction to selections from Tagore’s writings in The Picador Book of Modern I.


Ref: 1. History of English Literature- Albert     

2. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature