The book provides a general survey of the
Indo-Anglian fiction and a detailed analysis
of the prominent political fictions and the
fiction of Bhabani Bhattacharya. Showing
Bhattacharya’s position and achievement in
the domain of Indian fiction, the book studies
his art of writing novels for political and
The book also dwells on the Indo-Anglian
fiction of varied themes—social, political,
nationalistic, diplomatic, cultural, etc., of pre-
and post-Independence periods and shows
the significant place of the Indian political
novels and those of Bhabani Bhattacharya.
The Indian content of these political novels
has created a context for the study of
The book also makes a critique on
Bhattacharya’s six novels depicting
contemporary social, political, economic and
religious realities of India before and after
Independence. It also highlights his plea for
the social and moral function of art and for
reality and truth in literature and also his
defending of the use of contemporary events
as worthy subjects for writing novels.
The author presents a perspective on
Bhattacharya as an innovator and a free user
of English language in an Indianised style.
His authentic tone and Indianness are also
shown through the common theme, traditional
technique and typical Indian language of his
Dr. Kh. Kunjo Singh,
born on 1st March,
1952, B.A. (English
Hons.) from OD.M.
Assam (1972); M.A.
University, New Delhi
(1976); Ph.D. from
(1993) on indo-Anglian
Political Fiction, D.Litt. from Gauhati University
(1999), is an Associate Professor of English at
Manipur University, Canchipur, Manipur and
formerly Reader in English at Govemment Nambol
L. Sanoi College, Nambol, Manipur.
At present, working as the President of the North
East India Forum for English Studies (NEIFES),
the first of its kind in the North Eastern Region
of India with its permanent office at Guwahati,
Assam and Vice-President of the same for more
than 5 years, Dr. Kh. Kunjo Singh has contributed
research papers regularly to Dialogue (NEIFES
Journal), Points of View (Ghaziabad), Manipur
Today (Imphal), Gyan-Vigyan Samiti Journal
(Guwahati), Manipur University Journal of
Humanities and Social Sciences (Canchipur),
MALA Journal (Imphal), Bhabani-Bhattacharya:
Some Points of View edited by Dr. K.K. Sharma,
M/s K.K. Publications, Ghaziabad and a host of
reputed journals throughout the country.
Besides, he is the author of more than 5 novels
published in Manipuri, 2 volumes of English Word
Book and a number of children’s books on different
subjects and themes. He has published several
series of travelogues and short-stories in Manipuri
and has translated many popular modern Manipuri
hit songs, film-scripts and radio plays into English.
Stepping beyond literary confines, Dr. Singh has
been working as the Vice-President of the United
Nations Association, Manipur (UNAM), the first of
its kind in the North-East India and has been
participating in a large number of academic-UGC
sponsored seminars and conferences as well as
non-academic and political seminars and
Bhabani Bhattacharya, the earliest of the social realists of
post-Independence Indian English fiction, is a well-known Indo-
Anglian novelist. His books have been translated in more than
two dozen foreign languages, sixteen of which are European and
he has attained a world-wide renown. The coveted Sahitya
Akademi award to him in 1967 for his fifth novel, Shadow from
Ladakh, is a fitting recognition of his standing and achievement
in Indian English fiction.
Under the strange coincidences of being a Bengali, born in
1906 in Bhagalpur town in Bihar, writing in an alien language
and living in Nagpur in Maharashtra, he started his career as a
freelance writer. With a doctorate degree from London
University on historical research he worked for several years as
press attache to the Indian Embassy in Washington. He travelled
widely and was associated with a research centre at the
University of Hawaii.
Bhattacharya is a novelist strongly influenced by the ideas
of Tagore and Gandhi, while both his fictional theory and
practice show his affinity with Mulk Raj Anand. He is a believer
in the social character and significance of art and literature and
believes that "Art must teach, but unobtrusively, by its vivid
interpretation of life. Art must preach, but only by virtue of its
being a vehicle of truth. If that is propaganda, there is no need
to eschew the word."! Bhattacharya’s view of art, however foreign
to the aesthetically inclined writer in the West, is not at all
uncharacteristic in modern Indian literature with its intense
socio-political consciousness. He is a novelist of ideas, not of
art. He writes for instruction, not for entertainment. Aesthetically,
Bhattacharya was insensitive and he rarely wrote in an idiomatic
English, a language made great by literary masters.
Bhattacharya once remarked that "a novel must have a
social purpose. It must place before the reader something from
the society’s point of view. Art is not necessarily for art’s sake.
Purposeless art and literature which is much in vogue does not
appear to me to be a sound judgement."? All his novels present
a true picture of India and its teeming millions. His outlook is
highly constructive and purposeful.
Smt. Lila Ray writes: "As we read his writing, we hear the
dialogue between man and his situation, between man and
man and between man and the ideas he lives by." High idealism
permeates his works and they record the hopes and aspirations
of people heroically involved in the struggle between the old
and the new and inspired by the vision of a just social order. He
portrays full-blooded men and women, creatures of their society,
victims of its unjust persecutions and yet possessing inevitable
strength to carry the banner of the ideals of a new India. He
faithfully and soberly depicts the horrors characteristic of alien
rule and the old mode of life; he portrays the grandeur of the
peasant and the downtrodden and their role in remaking the
motherland, the dream of the Indian nationalist.
Bhattacharya’s works consist of translations from Tagore,
entitled The Golden Boat, Indian Cavalcade, a collection of
historical sketches; Towards Universal Man, a commemoration
volume published on the eve of the birth centenary of Tagore;
Steel Hawk, a collection of fifteen short stories; Gandhi, the
Writer: The Image as It Grew, a highly stimulating and
provocative study released on the occasion of the birth centenary
of Mahatma Gandhi and, what is more important, six novels—
So Many Hungers! (1947); Music for Mohini (1952); He Who
Rides a Tiger (1954); A Goddess Named Gold (1960); Shadow from
Ladakh (1966) and A Dream in Hawaii (1978). These six novels
may be grouped into the following three categories (according
to their thematic structure but not according to their year of
writing or publication):
1. Rural Novels
The first novel So Many Hungers! was set against the
background of the Quit India Movement and the Bengal Famine
of 1943. It deals with the theme of exploitation—political,
economic and social. The "so many hungers" of the title hints at
different kinds of hungers— (i) for political freedom (in the case
of India); (ii) for imperial expansion (in the case of the axis
powers); (iii) for money (in the case of the capitalists who create
artificial famine by hoarding rice); (iv) for food (in the case of
the starved Bengali poor); (v) for sex (in the case of the sex-
starved soldiers one of whom rapes the destitute rustic girl
Kajoli); (vi) for human dignity and self-respect (in the case of
Kajoli who rejects prostitution even though she is starving) and
(vii) the hunger as a spiritual weapon employed by the freedom
fighters (in the case of Devata’s fast unto death in jail). Its main
theme is hunger for food and the novelist gives a detailed,
graphic and moving picture of the hunger and heavy loss of
human lives resulting from it.
He Who Rides a Tiger, the third novel in the chronology of
publication deals with an attack on both those who profited by
people’s misery during the famine and those who exploited
them as caste tyrants. The novel discusses a variation on the
theme of hunger. With a fascinating beginning, the story runs
rapidly surging with emotion and agitation. It is a grim satire on
Hindu orthodoxy telling the story of Kalo, a poor blacksmith,
who, jailed for stealing a bunch of bananas, vows revenge on
society. He makes a living for himself and his daughter by
faking a miracle—a miracle that begins as a fraud and ends as
a legend—and passing himself off as a Brahmin Priest. The story
ends with a note of triumph for the soul over the flesh. There is
an intricate criss-cross of themes here such as the conflict
between appearance and reality, the haves and the have-nots,
and religious hypocrisy. The novel is based on the ancient
saying— "He who rides a tiger" cannot dismount.
2. Social Novels
Music for Mohini, the second of his novels, moves on two
levels—on the personal level, the city-bred, village-wed girl
Mohini’s adjustment to her new life style and on the social
level, the story of the old Eastern view of life connecting with
the new semi-Western outlook, an attempt to wed the
‘horoscope’ with the ‘microscope.’ The representative of the old
Eastern view of life is Jayadev, a quiet scholar and villager,
while the new semi-Western outlook is represented by his wife
Mohini. The psychological interest of the novel lies in the
opposition between Jayadev and his excessively conservative
mother. She is impressed, at last, by the works of her son and
daughter-in-law and the value of changes they bring to the
village and so she is prepared to give up her resistance to all
their modernising works.
The fourth novel A Goddess Named Gold is beautiful a novel
on Indian social life and a masterly satire on those who live by
the lure of gold. Meera’s grandfather, a wandering minstrel,
gives her an amulet (taveez) telling that it will turn the base
metals into gold if she does an act of real kindness. She rescues
a child. Seth Samsunderji seeks to profit out of India’s new
found freedom and enters into a business deal with Meera on
a fifty-fifty basis. Disgusted with the amulet as it does not work
properly, Meera throws it into the river. Luckily the minstrel
comes back and tells the people that "freedom," not the taveez,
is the real touchstone.
Indo-Anglian Literature has become popular by forming an
integral part of English literature and by reflecting and echoing
events of great importance and significance in the history of
India. The attainment of Independence is the greatest event in
modern Indian history. The period preceding this event was
packed with political struggle, suffering and hope, but the period
following it was full of unexpected trials and turmoils. In the
midst of these stresses and strains many valiant efforts have
been made to create a new order.
The book entitled The Fiction of Bhabani Bhattacharya studies
the more remarkable political novels of eminent Indian
novelists. It makes a thorough and objective study of the
celebrated novelist Bhabani Bhattacharya’s novels, constituting
a social document of post-Independence India.
The book has been prepared under the able and loving
supervision of Dr. K.K. Chatterjee, Professor of English, Manipur
University, Canchipur. So, I am deeply beholden to the esteemed
supervisor of mine for his constant encouragement and perennial
source of suggestions which made the completion of my book
possible within three years.
I am indebted to the authorities of the following libraries for
their generous and prompt services: the Manipur University
Library, Canchipur; the C.I.E. & F.L., Regional Centre Library,
Shillong; the Gauhati University Library, Guwahati; the National
Library, Kolkata and the N.L.S. College Library, Nambol.
I am grateful to Dr. N. Khagendra Singh, Dean, School of
Humanities, Manipur University for his kind suggestions towards
the undertaking and completion of the book in time.
I acknowledge my indebtedness to my Senior Colleague,
Shri Ch. Iboton Singh, Head of Department of English, N.L.S.
College, Nambol, for providing an invaluable stimulation and
generous help through several personal discussions and
I am also grateful to Dr. G.S. Balarama Gupta, Editor, The
Journal of Indian Writing in English, Gulbarga, for sending to me
all the back numbers of the JIWE publications when they were
very much needed and for his kind suggestions and
encouragement in my endeavour to prepare this work.
I express my gratitude to M/s Writers Workshop, Calcutta for
providing me with all the books J needed out of their
I also do not forget to thank Dr. S.C. Saha, Vice-Chancellor,
Assam University, Silchar and formerly Associate Professor of
English, Manipur University for his constant encouragement
and useful suggestions towards the completion of my work.
I am particularly thankful to Mr. A. Deben Singh, Steno-
typist, Department of English, Manipur University for his kind
and invaluable help in typing this work within a short time.
I express my gratitude and thanks to my loving wife Mrs.
Memcha Devi for her great and unforgettable help in various
ways in the completion this study.
Last but not the least, my thanks are also due to M/s Atlantic
Publishers and Distributors, B-2, Vishal Enclave, opposite Rajouri
Garden, New Delhi, India for undertaking the publication of this
book successfully within a short time.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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