Indo-Anglian Literature: Definition and Development

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Definition:

      Indo-Anglian literature is the term defined as the contribution of Indian writers in the literature in English language. The Indo-Anglian literature is not essentially different in kind from Indian literature. It is a 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 ours, as well as humanity's expanding future.

Modern Indo-English literature is the literal translation of original. The primary concern of translator, here, is the fidelity to the original. He is not given the liberties of the classical Indo-English literature, because he is not separated in time and space from the original author as the classical text translator is. The translation of poetry will always require some imaginative alterations in translation but these should be kept in minimum if the translation is to justify itself. The literature in translation poses its own problems and has its own attractions and implications. First, there is a question of literature translated from some Indian language into English by the writer himself. Here many times the word translation is inappropriate, for the writer is under no obligation to stick to the sense of his original writing. For more than one reason, he takes a number of liberties when writing in English, though the theme and substance may be taken from his work in the Indian language. The most notorious example is that of the Gitanjali. The English version of Gitanjali is different from the original. The English Gitanjali have some poems which the Bengali Gitanjali don't have, they are from other collection of Tagore's poetry.
Rabindranath Tagore Great Indo-Anglian Poet

      With the consolidation of the British power in India, English, the language of rulers also began to exercise its influence on the intellectuals of the country. To the educated Indian youth of that generation, a generation finding in English language a gateway to western knowledge. English provided a window for the Indian intellectuals to have a look at the wide world. Despite the fact that English is not their mother tongue many Indian writers in English were able to realise their creative effort through the medium of English. It may be said that there are three types of Indian writers in English.

(1) Those who have acquired their entire education in English Schools and Universities.

(2) Indians who have settled abroad and are constantly in touch with the living, growing idiom of their country of adoption.

(3) Indians who have acquired English as a second language. The culture and tradition of India has a distinctive entity of its own, and the enlightened youth of India, though well-versed in English, were not to lose their cultural identity. There were not a few among India's elite who were moved by a genuine desire to present, before the Western readers, a true picture of India through imaginative literature. This literature came to be designated "Indo-Anglian" Literature.

Difference Between the Two Terms: Indo Anglian and Anglo-Indian:

      Whereas Indo-Anglian literature is the Indian effort in English Language, the Anglo-Indian literature is used to devote the writing of Englishmen in English about India and Indian life. They tried to interpret India to the west. But the presentation of Indian life is often romantic rather than realistic. Their writings have a picture where India is a land of Rajas, Maharajas, God, Jugglers and Snake-charmers. Indo-Anglian literature, on the other hand projects a more favourable and truthful image of India.

Indo-English Literature:

      The translated work of writers into English language from Indian language is the Indo-English literature. The Indo-English literature is further divided into classical and modern Indo-English literature. Classical Indo-English literature requires a certain degree of interpretation and adaptation of meaning, to accommodate with some latitude in translation becomes inevitable. As long as adequate editorial explanation and documentation accompanies the rendering, the translator will be in no danger of misleading his reader into thinking that the rendering is literal. Absolutely literal translation in any case, is impossible in literature, whether of ancient works or of modern; but the degree of literalness decreases in inverse proportion to the distance in time between the original composition and the translation. Some allowance has also to be made for prevailing literary taste and seruples at the time when the translation takes place. Similarly, some freedom may be claimed by the translation of such works when he has a definite audience in mind.

      Modern Indo-English literature is the literal translation of original. The primary concern of translator, here, is the fidelity to the original. He is not given the liberties of the classical Indo-English literature, because he is not separated in time and space from the original author as the classical text translator is. The translation of poetry will always require some imaginative alterations in translation but these should be kept in minimum if the translation is to justify itself. The literature in translation poses its own problems and has its own attractions and implications. First, there is a question of literature translated from some Indian language into English by the writer himself. Here many times the word translation is inappropriate, for the writer is under no obligation to stick to the sense of his original writing. For more than one reason, he takes a number of liberties when writing in English, though the theme and substance may be taken from his work in the Indian language. The most notorious example is that of the Gitanjali. The English version of Gitanjali is different from the original. The English Gitanjali have some poems which the Bengali Gitanjali don't have, they are from other collection of Tagore's poetry. There is a difference of meanings between the poems of the two. The work is newly created rather than translated. This is a kind of transcription. Such translation where fidelity to the original work is not the main concern comes between translation and creation. Tagore took liberties with the originals and rewrote them in English rather than attempting a literal translation. He made occasional changes in the original. Sometimes two or three original poems were combined into one. The reverse process of splitting a single poem in the original into two was also followed. But this is not the point of main concern, the applause is there, where the method of translation followed by Tagore and the fact that perhaps he is the only writer in the world who has revolved his own works into English to attract attention of the world to himself so as to win the Nobel Prize for literature.

The Flow of Indo-Anglian Literature:

      Despite the advise of few English writers and critics to Indian writers, "Don't write in English, and write in your mother tongue" - Indian writers continued to write in English. Raja Rao described this characteristic of literature as the gift of Goddess Saraswati to the Indians. Various Indian writers have carved out a name for themselves in different fields of literature whatever be their mother-tongue, many Indian writers have chosen English as their medium. Nehru wrote his Autobiography and Discovery of India in English and not in Hindi. Toru Dutt wrote The Captive Ladie, Visions of the Past, translation of Sharmistha (1859) and Ratnavali (1858) Sarojini Naidu's The Golden Threshold, The Bind of Tune (1912). Similarly Sri Aurobindo Ghose came out with his poems like Who, A Vision of Science, The Vedanlins Prayer. Tagore's Chitra and Post-office are examples of his Indo Anglian genius.

      Even Dr. Bhabani Bhattacharya chose to write in English only. But, still, just as there is an American way of writing English, reflecting their own culture and spirit, there should be an Indian way of writing English. Prof. Quirk of the London University remarks that "English is not the private property of Englishmen. There is no copyright in the use of English and we cannot demand the users of English in other countries that they pay royalties of obeisance as though the language, the language carried a British Patent! One may copy the idiom, but not the atmosphere." Language has got to be necessarily dusted to the atmosphere and spirit. That is why Raja Rao, the reputed novelist in his preface to his novel Kanthapura says, "One has to convey in a language that is not one's own, the spirit that is one's own. One has to convey the various shades and omissions of a certain thought movement that looks maltreated in an alien language. I use the word 'alien', yet English is not really an alien language to us. It is the language of the intellectual make up - like Sanskrit or Persian was before - but not for our emotional make up. We are all instinctively bilingual, many of us write in our own language and in English. We should not. We can write only as Indians. We have grown to look at the large World as part of us. Our method of expression therefore has to be dialect which will some day prove to be as distinctive and colourful as the Irish or the American. Time alone will justify it."

Shortcomings in the Growth of Indo-Anglian Literature Foreign Language:

      The prejudice against English language made Indian critics to stand against the use of English in Indo-Anglian Literature. They accepted this use of foreign language as a shortcoming of Indian writers. It has always been said that English is a foreign tongue and as such expression of the deepest layers of emotions, which is essential for creative writing of merit, is not possible for Indians writing in English. Presumably, Indo-Anglian literature would also be of inferior worth. Such prejudices have been inhibiting and frustrating and have diverted the attention of many a talented writer. Such prejudices are rendered worse by the unhealthy dominance of regional consciousness, and the wild claims that are made for regional languages in the name of Indianness. Such prejudices imply (a) that only those who write in the regional languages have a monopoly of the deepest levels of experience and their readers are among the most discerning - deep responds to deep; and (b) that those who write in English have neither artistic ability nor integrity, of the kind so easily taken for granted in the other writers and worst of all, (c) that their readers are no more than a herd of gullible sheep who can swallow any stuff.

Flaw of Imitation:

      The imitation of English writers in Indo-Anglian literature, consciously or unconsciously is another shortcoming or obstacle. Says C. Paul verghese, "The moment an Indian poet starts writing in English he finds it impossible to get away from the weight of English poetic tradition even as his American, Australian, Canadian or Caribbean counterpart. Neither American poetry nor Australian poetry can be distinguished from English poetry on the basis of the style or the language that is used for writing poetry." Similarly an Indian poet in English like Australian the American poet cannot ignore English poetic tradition.

Conservative Publishers:

      The traditionally conservative and unadventurous publishers showed their unwillingness and indifference to Indo-Anglian literature. However, in recent times popular periodicals like The illustrated Weakly of India and Literary Miscellany of the 'Workshop School' of poets have rendered valuable service in this connection.

Conclusion:

      English and Western science on the whole proved very fruitful. It developed a scientific and rational approach to life and educated Indians could shake off much of their conservatism and narrowness of outlook. Contact with English language and literature was fruitful to the regional languages, as it led to the growth and development of creative literature in these tongues. The use of English led to the Indian Renaissance of the 19th century. In the early decades of the century Indian look to the language with enthusiasm, and many of them tried their hand at literary composition in English. Raja Ram Mohan Rao's writings in English, the first Indian to write in English, brought considerable influence on Keshab Chandra Sen, Dwarka Nath Tagore and their Brahmo friends and others. The growth of English language brought the spurt of translations, number of English classics were soon translated into the various Indian languages and growth of the novel and the short story in regional languages was inspired. The English Classics were the models for the Indian writing in English. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee became the first Indian writer of novel in English. The Indian drama, like the novel and the short story, was the result of the impact of English studies. The first Indian play in English the Persecuted (1832) is the gift of English language.

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