About the Book
This sheaf of fifteen short stories represents a cross-section of contemporary Indian literature. Fourteen of them are translations – One each from fourteen modern languages of Indian and one is a specimen of Indian creative writing in English.
These stories provide fascinating glimpses into the panorama of Indian life, with its baffling variety, its rich contrasts wherein the simple and the sophisticated, the ancient and the modern jostle against one another. Here is evidence, if such were needed, that Indian literature is one though written in many languages its oneness not of a stale uniformity but of a rich variety.
This is first of a series of such representative anthologies of contemporary Indian short story. Second and third volumes of stories written by different authors have also been published.
Storytelling is as old as man. It certainly antedates writing and probably emerged as soon as man was able to convey ideas and emotions through sounds that had become fixed as words. Its first form must have been the embellishment of incidents of experience, and from this it was a short step to describe imaginative happenings. It served to amuse, entertain and educate not only the young but also the adult and soon became one of the favourite pastimes of moments of leisure for men women alike.
The didactic element became predominant quite early and except for tales of wit and humour, or those meant for children, stories generally centred found some religious or moral theme. As society became more organised with the evolution of the State, the emphasis shifted to stories of heroic or amorous adventures of kings and princes. Almost all stories of these earlier days however lacked similitude and truth of nature. It was thus left to a more self – conscious and sophisticated society to develop the story in the modern sense.
In India, as elsewhere, the short story is a phenomenon of comparatively recent origin. It is true that we have in Sanskrit fables which later became the model of Aesop's fables in Greece. We have long and romantic stories of the loves and adventures of gods and goddesses and kings and princes. There are also stories of merchants and courtesans which prove the existence of a highly developed and sophisticated society. Nevertheless, all such tales were only precursors and the short story in the proper sense developed in India only in the modern age and mainly as a result of the impact of Europe.
It is perhaps not surprising that this impact was felt first and most deeply in Bengal The British establishments in Calcutta, Madras and Bombay were founded at about the same time but Calcutta soon became the capital of the East India Company and the centre of European influence in India.
Besides, the impact on Bombay was originally more in respect of commerce and on Madras in respect of religion, while that on Calcutta was mainly in the field of education and culture. The result was an early efflorescence of literature in Bengal which in course of time influenced the growth of literature in other Indian languages. The western influence thus permeated throughout India both directly and also at second hand through the influence of Bengal. Within a hundred years of the battle of plassey, Bengal had already been influenced profoundly by western literature and art. In another fifty years, the whole of India showed marks of a new awakening as a result of the impact of the West.
The short story in India is one of the results of this new awakening of the Indian mind. What distinguishes the modern short story from earlier forms is its emphasis on character as opposed to reportage. Stories in ancient and medieval India were more concerned with events and plot than with character or individuality. The situation changed in Europe by the middle of the 18th century. With the rise of industrialism, there was an increasing awareness of the individual, and the novel and the short story emerged at distinct forms of art. The Indian short story was born when the impact of Europe was felt in the wake of the establishment of British power in India.
The earliest influence of Indian fiction was perhaps that of Sir Walter Scott. He influenced not only the larger novel, but also the shorter stories which were often indistinguishable from the novel except in length. There was no attempt at this stage to develop the short story as a distinct and unique form of art. This came later and the short story began to show greater interest in a situation or an aspect of Character as against the novel's concern with the growth of character. If a novel attempts to reflect life in its totality, short stories offer only a vignette or still life picture of reality.
As in so many other fields, here also the pioneer was Rabindranath Tagore. He is the first writher of India who gave a distinct character to the short story. He is not only the first but also the foremost and one of the greatest masters of the short story that the world has known. He has described his short stories as the life of Bengal seen through the window of his moving boat. He suggests that there is no completeness or totality in the short story since the view is only from a window. He also suggests that since the boat is moving, characters and events in them are seem only for a fleeting moment.
Tagore's influene was not confined to Bengal alone. His recognition in the Western world gave a new dignity to the Indian writer. In almost every Indian language, these emerged writers who tried their hand at every form of literature. They were often directly influenced by the example of Bengal, but they all shared in the inspiration derived from the Western world. In the case of Bengal, the dominant influence had, at first, been English literature. Since the development of the short story in the other Indian languages was somewhat later in time, they were influenced not only by English but other European literatures as well. By the end of the 19th century, French influence on Indian writers was already becoming perceptible. In particular the influence of Maupassant on the form of the short story continually increased. From the beginning of the present century, the Russian masters began to influence some of the best writers of the day. Temperament is one of the most important characteristics of the Russian novel or short story. Temperament is also one of the marked features of India writing. The brooding mystic and introverted mentality of the Russian masters has evoked a strong sense of kinship in many of the finest Indian writers of today. Chekov has with Maupassant shared the honour of moulding the form as well the content of contemporary Indian short stories.
The influence of English literature is still strong, but from the twenties of the present century, the Continental influence has been increasing in strength. The French and the Russian masters were joined by some of the dominant figures of Norway and Sweden. Soon after came the influence of German, Italian and Spanish writers, and in very recent years, the technique of American short stories has also been increasingly felt.
Apart from the great novelists and story writers, two thinkers of Europe have also made a deep imprint on the mind of contemporary Indian writers. Freud was for some years worshipped almost as a demi-god. It became the fashion to delve into the unconscious and the subconscious to look for new subjects and themes. The Freudian influence on Indian literature was soon equalled and at times exceeded by that of Marx. Some story writers and novelists became proclaimed Marxists and attracted greater attention for their social and political views than for their craftsmanship. Though the outlooks of Freud and Marx are in some ways incompatible, there are Indian writers who are simultaneously Freudians and Maxists. While there is no denying that the impact of Freud and Marx has led to a deepening of sympathies and imagination, it has to be admitted that much of the new writing inspired by them is of only ephemeral interest.
The present anthology of contemporary Indian short stories attempts to give through English translations a cross-section of Indian literature at the present time. There is only one story selected from each of fifteen Indian languages. The Constitution of India has given special recognition to fourteen languages of which Sanskrit is one. The present anthology does not include a story from Sanskrit, but has included one mentioned in the relevant section of the Constitution, have been recognised by the Sahitya Akademi as languages in which also Indians are making their contribution to the world of letters.
The main purpose of this anthology is to give to readers in one language some idea of the quality of literature in other Indian languages. Some may ask why English was chosen as the medium of communication for Indians speaking different languages. The answer is that English is still for most educated Indians the second language par excellence. Next to their mother tongue they feel more at home in it than in any other language, Indian or foreign, modern or classical. It is however intended that there will be translations of this anthology into every one of the major Indian languages so as to reach a far wider public. Translation into English has also the advantage of introducing the writers to an audience outside India. It is therefore hoped that this anthology will serve the dual purpose of cultural exchanges within India and the Introduction of an aspect of Indian culture to the world outside.
This sheaf of twenty two short stories written by different authors, mainly during the period 1930-50, represents a cross – section of contemporary Indian short fiction. Twenty stories are translations from fourteen modern languages of India and two are specimens of Indian creative writing in English.
Selected by the Sahitya Akademi's Advisory Boards of various languages, these stories provide fascinating glimpses into the panorama of Indian life, with its baffling variety, its rich contrasts of the simple and the sophisticated, the ancient and the modern. Here is evidence, if such were needed, that Indian literature is one though written in many languages- its oneness consisting not of a stale uniformity but of a rich variety.
This is the second volume of Sahitya Akademi series of such representative anthologies in English of contemporary Indian short story. The third volume of nineteen short story stories writer by different authors has also been published.
This sheaf of nineteen short stories, written by different authors, represents a cross-section of contemporary Indian short fiction. Eighteen stories are translations from eighteen modrn language of India and one is a specimen of India creative writing in English.
Selected by the Sahitya Akademi's Advisory Boards of various languages, these stories, provide fascinating glimpses into the panorama of Indian life, with its baffling variety, its rich contrasts of the simple and the sophisticated, the ancient and the modern. Here is evidence, if such were needed that Indian literature is one though written in many languages its oneness consisting not of a stale uniformity but of a rich variety.
This is the third volume of Sahitya Akademi series of such representative anthologies in English of contemporary Indian short story.
This collection of 21 Short stories, written by different authors, represents a cross section of contemporary Indian short fiction. Twenty short stories are translations from twenty languages of India and one is a specimen of Indian creative writing in English.
Selected by the Sahitya Akademi Advisory Boards of various languages, these stories provide fascinating glimpses into the panorama of Indian life with this daffling variety, its rich contrast of the simple and the sophisticated, the ancient and the modern. Here is evidence, if such were needed, that Indian literature is one though written in many languages its oneness consisting not of a stale uniformity but of a rich variety.
To write a preface for a collection of stories In twenty-two languages is, I think, a challenging task. In this pluralistic country like India. each literature has its own tradition and, therefore, one is not quite sure how far a particular story represents that tradition. But since they belong to a pan-Indian cultural ethos, it is possible to say that they, more or less, belong to a large joint family, in which many traditions co-exist in an intimately Interrelated pattern.
Although it is possible to pick out some 'artistic' triumphs like Nlrrnal Verma's "BIrds' or M.T. Vasudevan Nalr's 'Little Little Earthquakes' or Surendra Jha 'Suman' The Heir' or 'GopInath Mohanty's 'The Bed of Roses', what I am interested In while reading such an anthology is the pattern of pan-Indian creativity h. terms of recurrent themes, techniques and sensibilities. It Is Interesting to see, for Instance, the theme of a woman's predicament in a changing society which is dealt with, say, in the Assamese story, 'Evening Walk', the Kannada story 'Soliloquies of Saugandhi', the Hindi story 'Birds' and the Oriya story 'The Bed of Arrows'. These stories depict from the inside the various dimensions of the sociological tension that an Indian woman has to suffer from In a society which Is fast getting modernised. Although the subtlest expressions of a modem woman's consciousness are to be found in Nlrmal Verma's and GopInath Mohanty's stories. the other stones are no less significant If we look at them from a broad sociological point of view.
The second Important theme Is that of corruption which Is eating Into the very fabric of society. The Punjabistory, 'The Taxi Driver', the Nepali story 'Declaration of a Revolutionary', the Nepali story, 'A News Story' and the Urdu story (with Its magic realism) touch upon the theme from various points of view. I have just mentioned only two recurrent themes. Though it is possible to discover other themes like the tensions in rural life (e.g. the Bengali story) or the Joint family system (e.g. the Sanskrit story).
The search of recurrent themes Is an attempt to seek unity. but actually speaking the variety of themes and concerns Is so astounding that one feels like celebrating 'God's Plenty' In Indian literature WI1tten In many languages.
When we look at the techniques and styles. of the stories. we have to admit. to begin with. the coexistence of the traditional modes of narration with most modern avante-garde modes like magic realism (e.g. the Urdu story) surrealism (e.g. the Gujarat story) and the stream-of-consciousness (e.g. the Kannada story). But it appears that the point-of-view technique (of the Assamese. the Hindi, the Oriya, the Malayalam stories) has been handled most successfully by the Indian writers. On the whole. the volume presents a substantial view of what Is happening in the area of short fiction In India. and what Is happening Is. I am sure. very exciting and worth talking about. One might say that at least half a . dozen stories In the volume deserve to find a place In global anthologies of short fiction.
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