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Indian English Literature Unit 1

Unit 1 Evolution of Indian English Writing

1.1 Introduction
1.2 Major trends in Indian English Writings
1.3 Themes in Indian English Writing
Gender Discrimination
Quest for Identity
East-West Encounter
Post-Colonial Perspectives
1.4 Summary
1.5 Glossary
1.6 Terminal questions
1.7 Answers

1.1 Introduction
Indian English literature, as a subject and as a nomenclature, has evolved
over a long period of time. The original literary composition of the English
language by Indians was initially referred to as Indo-Anglian literature or
Indian English Literature. In his foreword to Srinivasa Iyengar’s work on
Indo-Anglian Literature, C.R. Reddy aptly points out, “Indo-Anglian
Literature is not essentially different in kind from Indian Literature. It is part
of it, a modern facet of that glory which, commencing from the Vedas, has
continued to spread its mellow light, now with greater and now with lesser
brilliance under the inexorable vicissitudes of time and history ever
increasingly upto the present time of Tagore, Iqbal and Aurobindo Ghosh
and bids fair to expand with our and our humanity’s expanding future.” The
term, thus, primarily pertains to those authors who are the natives of India,
speak at least one regional or indigenous Indian language as their native or

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Indian English Literature Unit 1

co-native language, and write strictly in English language. These authors

are Indian by birth, ancestry, or nationality. Thus, there is an intimate liaison
between the works of the Indian Diaspora and the Indian English Literature.
The genre of the Indian English Literature has always spurred attention from
every corner of the nation. Indians have always nurtured huge admiration
for the novelistic writing in India, right from the era of the British rule. Even
during the British rule, the regional Indian writers who used to write in
English were deemed as highly learned men who were capable of
producing attention-arresting dramas and poetry.
Now let us have a look at the term “Anglo-Indian Literature” which is
different from Indo-Anglian Literature. Anglo-Indian Literature is used to
refer to that body of literature which is written in English about India, Indian
life, and Indian culture. Thus, Rudyard Kipling is an Anglo-Indian writer.
Such writings have their own significance as they serve to reflect the
western perception about India. These writings help rectify the delusive
image of India which portrays the nation as a land of snake-charmers,
jugglers and Maharajas. These also help in projecting a more realistic image
of Indian life, culture, and values.
Another form of writing, which merits a mention here for a clearer
understanding of Indo-Anglian Literature, is Indo-English Literature.
Originally, Indo-English Literature referred to those literary texts which were
translated into English from Indian/regional languages. A lot of literary works
written in regional languages were brought to a conspicuous position by the
Indo-English. The translation of his/her own work by an author is called
Transcreation, that is, something between translation and creation, where
the original text may be altered or improved in the process. Rabindranath
Tagore’s Gitanjali falls under this category of such writings. Gitanjali is a
collection of poems by Rabindranath Tagore. It is a collection of English
poems translated from Bengali poems.
Indo-Anglian writing establishes itself as a separate genre, as distinguished
from Anglo-Indian writing and Indo-English writing. This style of writing has
been enriched by such internationally acclaimed figures such as Toru Dutt,
Sarojini Naidu, Tagore, Jawahar Lal, Aurobindo Ghosh, Mahatma Gandhi,
R.K. Narayan, Mulk Raj Anand, Raja Rao, and many more.

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In this unit, you will study about the evolution of Indian English writing in
detail. Then, you will study the themes in Indian English writing. The unit will
acquaint you further with gender discrimination and quest for identity. Then,
you will learn about East-West encounter. At the end of the unit, you will
learn about post-colonial perspectives.

After completing this unit, you will be able to:
 list and explain the major trends in Indian English writings

 explain the different themes in Indian English writing

 explain gender discrimination
 describe the quest for identity

 explain the East-West conflict

 describe the post-colonial perspectives

1.2 Major Trends in Indian English Writing

The present unit proposes to take a bird’s eye-view of the Indian English
writing from its very inception up to the recent times. As the growth of Indian
English writing is closely linked up with the growth and development of the
English language in India, the latter would also be considered briefly.
The emergence of Indian English Literature dates back to 1608 in the era of
the Mughal emperor Jahangir. However, English Literature gained a lot of
momentum in India during the early 19th century. During this period, trading
had become prevalent amongst masses. In order to have proper trading, the
intruders, Englishmen, as well as the natives came in touch with each other
and this need to know each other more for effective trading grew more.
Indians too realized the inevitability of the situation and like true realists
thought of making the best from a bad bargain. Instead of giving up, they
looked at the brighter side of the gloomy situation. They saw in this tragic
state a chance to awake the dormant masses by endeavouring to bring
them in contact with a resurgent West through the knowledge of English.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the then leading social reformer of India was

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convinced of the awakening that would ensue after the study of English and
therefore, he founded institutions where Bengali students were taught
English. His pioneering initiative drew many others to his fold and the
demand for English as medium of instruction gathered momentum.
Macaulay’s Minute on Indian Education, introduced in 1835, further
promoted the introduction of English as a medium of instruction. In the
Minute, Macaulay advocated the cause of English and said, “We have to
educate the people who cannot at present be educated by means of their
mother-tongue. We must teach them some foreign language. The claims
of our own language it is hardly necessary to recapitulate. It stands pre-
eminent even among the languages of the West…In India English is the
language spoken by the ruling class. It is spoken by the higher class of
natives at the seats of Government. It is likely to become the language of
commerce throughout the seas of the East.” Christian missionaries, who
founded schools and published grammars and dictionaries, helped
Macaulay in his task. The English mercantile community and the educated
Indians and enlightened reformers also supported this cause.
Undoubtedly, the temptation of getting a government service also helped
the cause of the English language. English was, as a result, introduced in
educational institutions, courts and offices, thus dislodging the traditional
use of Arabic and Sanskrit as a mode of communication and
documentation. Lord William Bentick announced in 1835 that the
government would “favour English Language alone” and would henceforth
move towards “knowledge of English literature and Science through the
medium of English language alone.”
It was the dissemination of English that led to the upsurge of nationalism
and the Indian Renaissance of the 19th century. In the early decades of the
century, Indians took the language with great enthusiasm and many of them
tried their hands at literary composition in English. Raja Ram Mohan Roy
was the first Indian to speak and write English fluently and forcefully as is
clearly reflected in his works on religion, the Precepts of Jesus and The
Guide to Peace and Happiness. But since he was a social reformer, his
writing was mostly utilitarian rather than creative. His well-balanced, well-
reasoned prose exhibited considerable influence to bring about the desired
change in the thinking of the intelligentsia. Keshub Chandra Sen, Dwarka

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Nath Tagore, and their Brahmo friends were other social reformers who
used English prose effectively for communicating their ideas. They set the
stage for the great Hindu religious and social reformers and thinkers such
as Rama Krishna, Vivekananda, Dayanada, Sri Aurobindo, Gandhi, and
The legendary poet, Henry Louis Vivian Derozio was an English teacher at
the Hindu College, Calcutta from 1826 onwards and he inspired a number of
young Indians with his love of the English language and English Literature.
He published his volume of poems in 1823. Another figure of literary and
historical importance was Kashiprasad Ghose who published his volume of
poetry titled “The Shair and the other Poems” in 1830. These poets’ work
was largely imitative of English poets such as Scott and Byron. Before the
middle of the 19th century, the genres of novel, short story, and drama were
practically non-existent in the Indian languages. With the introduction of
translation, a number of English classics were translated into various Indian
languages. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee became the first Indian writer of an
English novel with the publishing of Rajmohan’s Wife in 1864. Worth
mentioning are One Thousand and One Nights by S.K. Ghosh, Indian
Detective Stories by S.B.Bannerjee, Toru Dutt’s Bianca and The Young
Spanish Maiden which was published after her death by her father in the
columns of the Bengal Magazine. Ramesh Chandra Dutt wrote and
translated two novels first in Bengali and then in English, The Slave Girl of
Agra and the Lake of Palms. Similarly in the field of drama, the situation of
the Indian languages was not so good in the early days. The first Indian play
in English, The Persecuted was published in 1832. Tagore and Shri
Aurobindo Ghosh contributed well to the Indian drama in English. However,
there still remained a dearth of Indian writers who published plays in
English. Srinivasa Iyengar attributes the paucity of good actable English
plays written by Indians to the fact that the natural medium of conversation
of the Indians – except for the super-sophisticated who live in the cities and
in the larger towns, in the universities or in certain government offices or
business houses – is their own mother tongue rather than English.
According to him, "unless the characters and situations are carefully
chosen, it would be difficult to make a dialogue between Indians in English
seem convincing.”

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For the convenience of study, the Indian English writing can be divided into
four phases which are as follows:
I. First Period: 1830-1880
II. Second Period: 1880 – 1900
III. Third Period: 1900 – 1947
IV. Fourth Period: 1947 Onwards
I. The First Period (From 1830-1880)
The early phase is known as the Phase of Imitation since the early writers
heavily relied on imitation of English literary texts. However, even these
early writers showed considerable mastery over the English language and
versification. They sowed the seeds which grew, flourished, and bore bear
fruits in the upcoming years. Henry Louis Vivian Derozio (1809-1831) edited
and published The East Indian. Derozio’s poems were lyrical, patriotic, and
romantic with the features of Indian imagery and mythology. His poems
were published in 1823 when he was merely fourteen years of age. He died
of cholera at the tender age of twenty-two. The following quote on Derozio is
significant: “What English literature lost though the early death of Keats,
Indian English Literature lost, in lesser degree, when Derozio died, for in
both men there was a passionate temperament combined with unbounded
sympathy with Nature. Both died while their powers were not yet fully
developed.”1 The Cambridge History of English Literature – E.F. Oaten,
p.341, Vol. XIV
The influence of Scott, Byron and Thomas Moore on Derozio is quite
evident in his works. But at the same time his poetry is remarkable for its
Indianness. The twin aspects – beauty and terror – attract his attention. He
also published an anthology of his poems, namely “The Fakir of Jungheera
and Other poems.”
Kashi Prasad Ghose (1809-1873), who pursued his education from the
Hindu College, edited an English weekly, The Hindu Intelligence. His works
evinces that he was inspired a lot by the Romantics poets such as
Wordsworth, Keats, Byron and Shelly. He was close to nature and believed
in its healing powers.

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Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1827-1873), a Bengali poet of talent, whose

ambition in life was to win recognition by writing in English verse, left behind
two volumes of poetry Visions of the Past (1848) and The Captive Ladie
(1849). His other works include Ratnavali (1858), translations of Sarmista
(1859), a poetic drama called Razia – The Empress of India, and a long
poem called King Porus – A Legend of Old. The influence of English
Romantic poets, particularly Byron, and the classics like Homer, Ovid,
Dante, etc. is discernible on him. Frequent references to Hindu mythology
accentuate the Indian atmosphere of his verse. His failure arises from the
fact that he failed to harmonise Indian and foreign elements. Rajnarain Dutt,
Mohan Lal, Hasan Ali, and Rajagopal are the other famous writers of this
II. The Second Period (From 1880-1900)
This was the period of Renaissance of Indian English Writing. B.M.
Malabari, Shoshee Chander Dutt, Romesh Chandra Dutt, Aru Dutt,
Manmohan Ghosh (brother of Aurobindo Ghosh), and Swami Ram Tirth are
the poets of this period. It is the poetry of Toru Dutt (1856-1877) that reveals
the soul of India. In the words of Edmund Gosse, “Toru’s chief legacy to
posterity is her verse collection Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan
(1883) which includes the ancient Hindu stories of Savitri, Sita, Prahlad,
Dhruva, etc. The poems appeal to the primary emotions of love, filial piety,
devotion, gratitude, etc.” She did not possess metrical excellence and
felicity of diction but she made up for these drawbacks in lucidity of
expression and flawless spontaneity.
III. The Third Period (From 1900-1947)
The political atmosphere of this period needs special attention. The major
writers of this period were in one way or the other associated with the
national movement for the freedom of the country from foreign domination.
Hence, we see the writings of this significant period pulsating with intense
patriotic fervour and political awareness. The ideals of the Indian struggle
for freedom are reflected in novels such as K.S. Venkataramani’s Murugan,
The Tiller (1927), Kandan, and The Patriot (1932). The other eminent
writers of this age were: Raja Rao, Mulk Raj Anand, R.K.Narayan, Bhabani

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Bhattacharya, Manohar Malgonkar, Khushwant Singh, Balachandra Rajan,

Kamala Markandaya, and Anita Desai.
In this era, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) achieved international fame
and recognition with Gitanjali and was awarded the Nobel Prize for
Literature in 1913. He was a renowned poet, dramatist, novelist, story-
writer, actor, musician, painter, prose-writer, social reformer, patriot,
educationist, philosopher, and much more. Edward Thompson calls his
handling of poetic prose an “impeccable metrical achievement.” Tagore’s
thought and imagery are Indian and his poetry follows the tradition of Indian
devotional poetry. His message is spiritual, both Hindu and universal at one
and the same time. His major poetical works are: The Crescent moon, The
Gardener, The Fugitive, The Lover’s Gift, Crossing, and Fruit Gathering.
Tagore’s plays are symbolic-lyrical poetic plays. In his plays like Chitra, Post
Office, The King of the Dark Chamber, Tagore has tried to impart new
values and symbolic significance to ancient Hindu myths and legends. He
wrote poetry and plays with grace, in English as well as Bengali. The Home
and the World (1919), The Wreck (1921) and Gora (1923), Sadhana (1916)
and the book that fetched him Nobel Prize in 1912, Geetanjali, elevated
Tagore to a literary immortality.
Aurobindo Ghosh (1875-1950), a prolific writer, poet, prophet, and seer
started his career at the turn of the century and continued to write well into
the 20th century. He wrote lyrics, narrative poems, a comic epic, and
philosophical poems. Keats influenced his early poetry in Songs to Myrtilla
and Night by the Sea. His poems like Urvasie, Love and Death, Savitri are
Hindu in setting, sentiment, and expression. He constantly reminds one of
the poetry of the Vedas.
Besides the hugely venerated Indian English writers, the English critic
William Walsh picked out the trinity of Indian English writing of that time:
Mulk Raj Anand (1905-2004), R.K. Narayan (1906-2000) and Raja Rao
(1909-2006) and named them as “The Big Three”. Walsh said: “It is these
three writers who defined the area in which the Indian novel was to operate.
They established its assumptions; they sketched its main themes, freed the
first models of its characters and elaborated its particular logic.”

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Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949) achieved immense success in handling Indian

imagery and the expression of Indian personality. She began by imitating
Keats and other English poets. Initially, her poetry was western in feeling
and totally devoid of individuality. She took to the advice of Edmund Gosse
and thereafter her later poetry in the Golden Threshold (1905), The Bird of
Time (1912) and The Broken Wing (1917) came out to be Indian in thought,
spirit, emotion, and imagery. Sarojini Naidu, the Nightingale of India,
immortalized the familiar scenes of everyday life in modern India. Her
patriotic pieces include The Lotus, Gokhale, Lokmanya Tilak, Imperial Delhi,
To India, and The Gift of India.
The other Luminaries of the period were Nobakissen Ghose who composed
long poems, The Last Day and The Bhagwat Gita of more than 1200 and
700 lines respectively. Man Mohan Ghose wrote poetry on the themes of
loneliness and wistful melancholy. His poems were autobiographical.
Interestingly he was highly praised by Oscar Wilde. Another significant
feature of his poetry is his complete identification with the West in imagery,
thought, and sentiments. Other well-known poets of this period are
Harindranath Chattopadhyaya, Swami Vivekananda, Robi Dutt, P.
Sheshadri, Nishi Kanto, etc.
IV. The Fourth Period (1947 Onwards)
The post-independence period is the time of hectic poetical activity in which
both the quantity and variety are remarkable. The poets graduated from the
first phase of being imitative of the English Romantics and the Victorian era
and started moving towards Indianness in themes, sentiments, and imagery
in the second phase. The poets in the third phase were compulsive
nationalists and they contributed towards the attainment of India’s freedom.
The poets of pre-independence era projected landscapes, moods, fancies,
and dreams. On the other hand, the post-independence poets were more of
experimentalists. They were more concerned with their own nostalgia,
crises, and quest for identity. This experimental approach is common to all
genres. The quest for originality and newness, stress on individuality and
the rejection of all that is traditional, led to fantastic results.

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The writing of this era mainly resulted from urbanization, industrialization,

and westernization. The Indian English writing has also been influenced by
the theories of west such as Existentialism, Phenomenology, Positivism,
Surrealism, and the New Aestheticism. The contemporary novelists have
started working on themes of poverty, hunger, and disease; portrayal of
widespread social evils and tensions; exploration of the hybrid culture of the
dislocations and conflicts in a tradition-ridden society under the impact of
incipient industrialization. The theme of the confrontation of the East and
West has been successfully dealt with by Raja Rao, Balachandran Rajan,
Kamla Markandaya, and many others.

Self Assessment Questions:

1. _________________ was the first Indian writer of an English novel.

A. S.K.Ghosh

B. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee

C. S.B.Bannerjee

D. Kashiprasad Ghose

2. Indian English writing is divided into four phases. (True/False)

3. Kashi Prasad Ghose edited an English weekly called ___________.

4. Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature in the year

Activity 1:

Who are the bestselling Indian writers and poets in the Indian English

Objective of the Activity: To help you gain knowledge of English

literature writers.

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1.3 Themes in Indian English Writing

The complexity of the Indian society is because of its composite culture,
traditions, and a wide variety of religions which give way to the rise of social
stereotypes. The post- independence era of Indian writing in English
focussed more on realism. The common man had become the subject of
discussion. The experiences with the class and caste struggle,
discrimination in the society were openly discussed in the then writings. The
protagonists were either the oppressed common men or the long-time-
suppressed Indian women. These characters hailed from the middle-class
who sought benefits from economic liberalisation, hoping to move up the
social and economic ladder someday. Karmala Markandaya’s novel based
on the stagnancy in the rural India amidst the wind of urbanization and
westernization, entitled 'Nectar in a Sieve' published in 1954, is a good
attempt to present the real picture of rural India in transition. Eminent writers
such as Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, Vikram Seth, Anita Desai,
Nayantara Sehgal, Arundhati Roy, Jhumpa Lahiri and Kiran Desai took up
the creative stance and made the outside world listen to the original voice of

1.3.1 Gender Discrimination

In the Indian literary scene, women writers in particular gave an Indian touch
to the themes of their novels by treating women as legitimate subjects. The
backwardness, ignorance, and the web of superstitions in which women
were entangled and were presented as an epitome of understanding,
sacrifice, and tolerance were all exposed in their novels. During this era, the
feminist consciousness came to be defined as the consciousness of
victimization, thus opposing women’s submission to the patriarchal society
along with men’s claims to define what is best for women. The women
writers made the Indian women rise against the male domination in their
work of art and portrayed them as individuals who have an identity of their
own, thus making them free of any dependence syndrome. The women
writers projected a strikingly new image of the Indian women by portraying
them as human beings who contributed significantly to the growth and
welfare of the society. Toru Dutt, Kamala Markandaya, Attia Hosain, Ruth

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Prawer Jhabvala, Anita Desai, Nayantara Sehgal, and Shashi Deshpande

are the Indian luminaries from the newer league.

1.3.2 Quest for Identity

The quest for identity against self, against one’s own family, and against the
social milieu has been the subject of many Indian English writings. Many
women poets have made attempts to explore the “self” and “identity” by
writing confessional poetry. Kamala Das’ poetry records her experiences
and struggles she had to undergo in order to redefine and assert her
identity. She vehemently protested against the domination of the male
counterparts and the subsequent dwarfing of women. She opined that the
women were subjugated by their male counterparts and were expected to
play certain conventional roles in the society, and hence, did not pay
attention to their own wishes and aspirations. The intensity of protest is
expressed in a conversational idiom and rhythm:
You called me wife,
I was taught to break saccharine into your tea and
To offer at the right moment the vitamins. Cowering
Beneath your monstrous ego, I
Became a dwarf. I lost my will and reason, to all your
Questions I mumbled incoherent replies.
(The Old Playhouse)
Kamala Das was joined by Mamta Kalia, Eunice de Souza, Gauri
Deshpande, Sujata Bhatt, Lila Ray, Monika Verma and many more younger
poets in the quest for identity. Mukta Sambrani’s The Woman in This Room
and Menka Shivdasani’s volume of poetry, Nirvana at Ten Rupees are good
examples of the journey to this quest.
The concept of identity brings greater importance for the minorities and
marginalized groups who search for space among the larger cultural groups
by asserting their ethnic identity. With this we come to yet another most
popular theme of Post-Colonialism.

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1.3.3 The East-West Encounter

The theme of the East-West encounter is a recurring one in Indian English
literature – chiefly due to the nature of the linguistic medium employed by
the writers. It originated with the juxtaposition of the two opposite cultural
and value systems of the East and the West as a result of a historical
phenomenon. This encounter, as perceived by the Indian English writers
from different viewpoints, generated multifarious layers of meanings to be
explored and expressed in their outpourings. It found its expression in three
dimensions – social, political, and cultural. Besides national awakening,
partition horrors, and the changing milieu, the theme of East-West
encounter embodies the conflict between spirituality and materialism,
tradition and modernity, tyranny and democracy, superstitions and scientific
outlook. Kamala Markandaya’s Nectar in a Sieve captures the conflict
between tradition and change, and also portrays the village life versus
urbanity. Markandaya’s A Silence of Desire exhibits the conflict between
superstitious healing and scientific surgery, social sanity and fake
spiritualism. Her work Possession depicts the conflict between materialistic
West and spiritualistic East. Kamala Markandaya’s fictional preoccupation
arose out of the interaction between India and Britain – East and West. Her
novels, Coffer Dams, Possessions, reveal her hatred for colonialism and
R.K. Narayan’s Vendor of Sweets projects a symbolic conflict between
humane tradition and robotic modernity with the portrayal of a traditional
sweet vendor and his ultra-modern son who plans to manufacture and
market novel-writing machines. During the pre-independence era, the
novelists mainly concentrated on the conflict between the pre-industrial life
and the mechanized life. Hence, the theme expresses the clash between
the oppressed Indians and the British regime as well as the local dictator,
and the consecutive fight against traditional suppression. Examples of such
works include R.K. Narayan’s Waiting for the Mahatma, Mulk Raj Anand’s
Untouchable, Raja Rao’s The Serpent and the Rope, etc.
Tagore’s works, replete with nativistic images, depict the indigenous culture
of India in The Home and the World leading to the East-West conflict.
Contrasted value systems cause tension between the East and the West.
Tagore had the conflict within himself – one pertaining to the culture of the

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West and the other revolting against it. In the novel The Home and the
World, Nikhil and Sandip belong to the same nation and environment, yet
they differ in their ideologies. Again, Bimala is torn between the two cultures
– the Indian tradition and the Western culture. The East-West conflict is
reflected through her indecisiveness.
The growing cultural interaction between the East and the West and the
consequent changing social ethos, post-independence, provided an added
impetus to the writing of novels on the theme of East-West confrontation.
Gradually, the theme became less social and more personal – the
individual’s search and psychological exploration for an identity in the
changing Indian scenario became more predominant. The fascination of the
West that lures the Indians to blindly follow is explored by Amitabh Ghosh in
The Calcutta Chromosome, The Shadow Lines, The Circle of Reason.
These novels depict the encounter between the Western rationality and the
Indian myth, and the hollowness of national identity and national
boundaries. The cultural conflict between the East and the West and the
subsequent reaction of an Indian on returning home from abroad is the
subject matter of Balachandra Rajan’s The Dark Dancer. Anita Desai’s Bye
Bye Black Bird and Chaman Nahal’s Into Another Dawn deal with the life of
Indians who go abroad and struggle to get accustomed in the new culture.
Today, most of the Indian novelists live abroad. They are a part of the Indian
diaspora. With their exposure to the western literary movements, they bring
a fresh orientation to Indian fiction. Having strong roots in India, they tend to
remain true to the kindred points of India, and with the help of the West,
they tend to recreate the contemporary social milieu and cultural crisis in
their native land and attempt to redefine it. Thus, the East-West encounter
continues to provide material for the Indian English novelists. They have
sought a fusion of the two diverse cultures to rank amongst the postcolonial
writers abroad.

1.3.4 Post-Colonial Perspectives

The post-colonial writing is the one “affected by the imperial process from
the moment of colonisation to the present day” (Ashcroft et al, 2). All the
genres including novels, poetry, and drama in the Indian English writing, pre
and post independence fall in the category of post-colonial writing.

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Postcolonial literature shares some common concerns with the other

colonised countries such as Pakistan, Nigeria, Jamaica, and Singapore. An
element of reclaiming the lost spaces and places that the natives
considered as their home lurks inside such writings. Post-colonial writing is
an attempt to reduce the feeling of alienation among the displaced people
even in their own country. Secondly, there is a continuous attempt to restore
the richness of our own culture and traditions in the Indian English writings.
Thirdly, the postcolonial writing in India makes an attempt to look at the
Indian history from the viewpoint of an Indian, rather than a Britisher. Oral
literature and dramatic performances are being revived. More emphasis is
given more to the detailed descriptions of the characters, setting and
practices to minimize inaccuracies and stereotypes. The celebration of the
loss of order, the disintegration of social traditions, breaking away from
traditions and experimenting with different forms has been the art of the day.
Amitav Ghosh’s The Glass Palace exposed the colonial designs of the
British empire.

Self Assessment Questions:

5. Nectar in a Sieve is a novel by _____________.

6. The Glass Palace is written by:

a. Amitav Ghosh

b. Eunice de Souza

c. Kamala Das

d. Mukta Sambrani’s

7. Nirvana at Ten Rupees is a novel by _____________.

8. Attia Hosain is a post colonial writer. (True/False)

9. The postcolonial writing in India makes an attempt to look at the

Indian history from the viewpoint of an Indian, rather than a Britisher.

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Activity 2:

Study in detail the literary career of Kamala Das.

Objective of the Activity: To help you know about the significant

contribution of Kamala Das to the Indian English literature.

1.4 Summary
In this unit, you have learnt:
 The Indian English writing is divided into four phases from 1830 to 1947
onwards. Various authors and poets contributed in evolution of Indian
English literature.
 Some of the eminent authors and poets in the first phase (From 1830-
1880) are Kashi Prasad Ghose, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, Rajnarain
Dutt, Mohan Lal, Hasan Ali and Rajagopal.
 The Second phase (From 1880-1900) is the phase of Renaissance of
Indian English Writing. Some of the eminent authors and poets of this
period are B.M.Malabari, Shoshee Chander Dutt, Romesh Chandra
Dutt, and Aru Dutt.
 The Third phase (From 1900-1947) was associated with the national
movement. Some of the eminent authors and poets of this period are
Raja Rao, Mulk Raj Anand, R.K.Narayan, Bhabani Bhattacharya,
Manohar Malgonkar, Khushwant Singh, Balachandra Rajan, Kamala
Markandaya, Rabindranath Tagore Aurobindo Ghosh, and Sarojini

 The Fourth phase was the post-independence phase. Some of the

eminent authors and poets of this period are Raja Rao, Balachandran
Rajan, and Kamla Markandaya.
 Authors and poets use different themes in Indian English writing such as
caste, gender issues, East West conflicts, and Post-colonial

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Indian English Literature Unit 1

1.5 Glossary
Let us have an overview of the important terms mentioned in the unit:
Indian English literature: It is subject that studies the work by writers in
India who write in the English language.
Prolific Writer: A writer who is highly productive in his/her writings.
Gender Discrimination: It implies an unfair treatment of a person on the
basis of his gender.

1.6 Terminal Questions

1. Write a short note on the First phase of the Indian English writing.
2. Discuss the writings of the post-independence period.
3. Discuss the contribution of Sarojini Naidu to the Indian English
4. Write a short note on the following themes:
a. Gender Discrimination
b. Quest for Identity
c. East-West encounter
d. Post-colonial perspectives

1.7 Answers

Self Assessment Questions

1. B
2. True
3. The Hindu Intelligence
4. 1913
5. Karmala Markandaya
6. B

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Indian English Literature Unit 1

7. Mukta Sambrani
8. False
9. True

Terminal Questions
1. Refer section 1.2 Major trends in Indian English writings that discuss
the First phase of Indian English writing
2. Refer section 1.2 Major trends in Indian English writings that discuss
the post-independence period.
3. Refer section 1.2 Major trends in Indian English writings contribution of
Sarojini Naidu to the Indian English Literature.
4. Refer section 1.3 Themes in Indian English writing that discuss the
gender discrimination, quest for identity and post-colonial perspectives.

References and Suggested Readings

 Mehrotra, Arvind Krishna (ed.). A History of Indian Literature in English.

New York: Columbia University Press, 2003
 Iyengar, K.R.Srinivasa. Indian writing in English.New Delhi: Sterling


 Makarand.com (1900). Cultural World-System and Indian English

Literature. [online] Retrieved from:
SystemandIndianEnglishLiterature.htm [Accessed: 29 Jul 2013].
 Poemhunter.com (2007). Poet: Sarojini Naidu - All poems of Sarojini
Naidu. [online] Retrieved from: http://www.poemhunter.com/sarojini-
naidu/ [Accessed: 29 Jul 2013].
 Unknown. (n.d.). Untitled. [online] Retrieved from:
[Accessed: 29 Jul 2013].

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