Indo-Anglian Literature Writings || Historical Perspective

Also Read

Introduction:

      The Britishers came to India and took with them, not only the tools of trade and the implements of war, but also their language and literature. After the end of eighteenth century they gave their attention to the arts of peace, to education. The three factors in the field of education brought English as the primary concern. The first is the new intellectualism and renascent ardour among the Indians, as symbolized in Raja Ram Mohan Roy; second is the perseverance of Christian missionaries and above all the persuasiveness and metallic charity of Macaulay's English prose style.

Rabindranath Tagore is a great phenomenon in the Indian Literary Renaissance. He combines in himself three distinct roles - that of a poet, a philosopher and a patriot. The special feature of Tagore's lyrics in English is that they are prose poems. Speaking of his prose poems he says: "There is a weight and restraint in the language of poetry. That is what is called metre. Prose is not squeamish. It goes about everywhere with its head erect." His chief poetical works include the Gitanjali, The Gardener, The Crescent Moon, Fruit Gathering, Lover's Gift and Crossing His fame as a poet in English rests chiefly on his Gitanjali which is a transcreation of the Bengali original. It was with this work that he achieved international fame winning Nobel Prize for Literature. The Gitanjali is full of rare charm.
Rabindranath Tagore

English Education: The Necessity

      Raja Rammohan Roy and his friends had tasted the fruits of western literature and culture and were persuaded that India required a western type of education with English as the medium of instruction. With the help of two Englishmen, David Hare and Sir Edward Hyde East, he brought into existence the Calcutta Hindu College which later developed into the Presidency College (1817). The second factor which determined the course of education in India was the advent and activities of the Christians. English was generally the medium of instruction in these missionary institutions, schools and colleges. The third factor that brought the English in education was Macaulay's Minute' urging that it was necessary and possible "to make natives of this country good English scholars". It is said that he wanted to make India a 'Cultural Colony' of England and to produce an army of English knowing clerks. In 1823, a committee of Public Instruction was appointed by the Government to consider the question of the improvement in the education imparted to the natives, and it allotted all the funds available for education to the Sanskrit College in Calcutta. Against this step, enlightened reformers, like Raja Rammohan Roy, protested vehemently and petitions were filed demanding, "the imparting of the best and most modern European education through English." Sanskrit and Persian which were the chief subjects of study, were felt to be entirely inadequate. Raja Ram Mohan Roy himself founded a number of schools to teach Bengali youth through the medium of English. By the time of Macaulay, the demand for the introduction of English as the medium of education was wide-spread. Macaulay's language policy is to be judged against this context, it resulted basically from the demand of educated and enlightened indians for the Anglicisation of education, and not from any villainous desire to serve the ends of British Colonial rule:

Macaulay's Success in the Field of Education:

      Macaulay's Minute on Education is a landmark in the history o English education in India. In the Minutes Macaulay advocated the cause of English and said, "We have to educate those 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 prominent 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 native at the seats of Government. It is likely to become the language of commerce throughout the seas of the East." In his task, Macaulay was helped by the Christian missionaries, who founded schools and published grammars and dictionaries, by the English mercantile community, and by the educated Indians and enlightened reformers. No doubt the lure of getting government service also helped the rise of the English language. But it was certainly not an imposition but something which was gladly welcomed and accepted. K.K. Datt asserts that, "The enlightened Indians in the early nineteenth century had come to realize the need of linking their countrymen with the progressive cultural forces of the outside world" Extracts from contemporary Bengali papers like Samachar Darpan, Samachar Chandrika, Banga Datta etc; published in Sampadpatre Sekaler Katha, are quoted extensively by Datt in support of his view in his work Dawn of Renascent India 1964. In March 1835 - it was decided that all the funds for education will be used for English education alone with the object of promoting western science and literature among the natives. Macaulay did his best to carryout this policy.

Spread of English:

      It is remarkable that Macaulay's views about the importance of English hold good even today. There were several factors which contributed to spread English in education of India, quite apart from the help and patronage which the government extended in this direction for which English was certainly a most advantageous qualification. The English traders played a prominent part in this, right from the early days of the trading settlement as the East India company. It may be expected that even those who wanted to oppose the activities of the English missionaries had to learn English in order to understand their methods. It may be eye opener for those who violently oppose English education, to realize that it was not foreign imposition but something which the most patriotic and enlightened among the Indians considered necessary for the progress and modernisation of India.

English Writings in India:

      The study of English and western science on the whole proved very fruitful. Besides education, it brought a scientific outlook, rational approach to life, ignorance towards much of conservatism, narrowness of outlook, development of creative literature. Raja Ram Mohan Roy was the first Indian to write in English. He could speak and write English fluently and forcefully as is clearly brought out by his works on religion, The Precepts of Jesus, and The Guide to Peace and Happiness. But he was a social reformer and much of his writing is utilitarian rather than creative. His prose has lucidity, clarity and flexibility, and compares favourably with the prose of many contemporary English men. Through the English prose writings many reformers came into light: Keshub Chandra Sen, Dwarka Nath Tagore, Rama Krishna, Vivekananda, Dayananda, Sri Aurobindo, Gandhi and Radha Krishan.

The First Phase of Indo-Anglian Writings:

      Before Macaulay's Minutes policy in education few Indians had begun to use the English for creative expression. Henry Derozio's volume of poems was published in 1823 and Kashiprasad Ghose published his volume of poetry entitled The Shair and the Other Poems in 1830. These two poets are not great in their writings but their work is largely imitative of English writers. Derozio inevitably came under the spell of Byron and Thomas Moore. His most ambitious work, The Fakir of Jungheera, is full of Byronic echoes. While the language of these early poets is reminiscent of Byron and other English poets, the ardent love for their country, their passion for social reforms and their tender and courageous humanity are entirely their own. Their historical importance is great, for they belong to that small group of Indians who wrote in English much before Macaulay. Before the middle of the century the drama, short story and novel were practically non-existent in the Indian languages. The English came in India and brought with them the number of translations. English classics were soon translated into various Indian languages and the growth of the novel and the short story in regional languages was inspired by these translations. The English Classics were the models for the Indians writing in English, and their works were moulded closely on these masters. Bankim Chandra Chatterji became the first Indian writer of a novel in English. He made his mark with Raj Mohan's Wife, published in 1964. One Thousand and One Nights by S.K. Ghosh and Indian Detective Stories by S.B. Bannerjee are other works of prose-fiction in English from Indian hands. Toru Dutt's novel Bianca was published in the columns of the Bengal Magazine. Ramesh Chandra Dutt wrote many novels in Bengali and two of them were translated into English by the novelist himself. These are: The Slave Girl of Agra and The Lake of Palms. In field of Drama the translations of Shakespeare's works came into regional languages, and these translations stimulated the growth of Indian drama. They also served as models to the early Indian dramatists. 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, was written in 1832. But the solid contribution to Indian drama in English upto date is that of Tagore and Shri Aurobindo Ghosh. Srinivas Iyengar attributes the paucity of good actable English plays written by Indians to the fact that the natural medium of conversation with us - except for the super sophisticated who live in the cities and the larger towns, in the universities or in certain Government offices on business houses - is the 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 seems convincing'.

The Second Phase of Indo-Anglian Writings:

      (a) Toru Dutt: The delicate and charming poetess Toru Dutt is an inheritor of unfulfilled renown. She was a precocious girl with a touch of genius. She was one of the Indian poets who gained recognition, inspite of her short literary career. Her poetry reveals the soul of India. She entered the literary world with her first collection of poems A Sheaf Gleaned in French Fields which was published in 1875. It is a collection of translation of about 200 French poems from various hands. The collection is not a mere translation but a "transcription" and volumes speaks for the genius of the young poetess. One of Toru's most beautiful translations, which also gives vent to her grief at losing her sister, is a poem entitled Death of a Young Girl. In Edmund Ghosh's words, Toru's chief legacy to posterity is her verse collection.

      Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan (1883) written by her 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. It is for the first time that we find the Indian themes treated in English against a purely Indian background. This verse-collection in an important landmark in the history of Indo-Anglian literature. Besides this, Toru wrote two novels, one in English named Bianca and The Young Spanish Maiden and another in French, entitled Le Journal de Mademoiselled Arvers. In her early death at the age of twenty-one, Indo-Anglian poetry suffered an irreparable loss.

      (b) Behramji Malabari: is a great writer. In his collection of verses entitled The Indian Muse in English Garb (1876), he frequently deals with the blessings of the British rule. Dr. John Wilson remarked that the verses "displayed an uncommonly intimate knowledge of the English language" and that they were "the outcome of a gifted mind, frained to habits of deep meditation and fresh and felicitous expression." Many of the poems are occasional. But his Indianness is seen in those poems in which he bewails the loss of the virtues of Indian character. In such verses speaks the heart of India yearning for freedom from the foreign yoke. Of Malabari's prose writings, special reference should be made to Gujrat and Gujratis (1882) and The Indian bye on English Life (1893). The Indian Eye is a disarming account of Malabari's European tour. No Indian journalist has done more than Mr. Malabari to maintain between the two races a feeling of friendliness based upon reciprocal respect.

      (c) Sashi Chandra Dutt is another early poet who in his A vision of Sumeru and other poems tried to achieve Indianness. The Indian gods like Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are brought in but there are also constant references to Christian and Greek mythology. This divided allegiance weakens the effect of Indianness the poet seeks to create, and makes it ridiculous and unconvincing. The poems, at best, remain a pale imitation of Milton.

      (d) Romesh Chandra, a brother of Sashi Chandra Dutt, gained greater renown as an administrator and as a Bengali and English writer. His works include Bengali novels, English renderings of Ramayana and Mahabharata and various other publications dealing with the economic condition of India in the nineteenth century. Few of his works are Lays of Ancient India (1894) and his classic renderings of Ramayana (1900) and Mahabharata (1898).

      (e) Michael Madhusudan Dutt was a Bengali poet of talent whose one ambition in life was to win recognition as a writer of English verse. He has left behind two volumes of poetry Visions of the Past (1848) and The Captive Ladies (1848). The English romantic poets, particularly Byron and the classics like Homer, Ovid, Dante, etc were the main source of his inspiration.

      He is a mere versifier, but historically he is important for he is the first to make a conscious effort to use Indian imagery, express Indian sentiments, and tells an Indian story. 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.

      (f) Another great poet at the turn of the century is Manmohan Ghosh, the brother of the renowned Aurobindo Ghosh. His Songs of Love and Death was published after his death in 1926. The bulk of his poetry expresses his personal sorrows and sense of loneliness, and except for a few poems expressing nostalgia for India, there is very little of India in his poetry. But the technical perfection and the lyrical quality of his poems have earned for him an abiding place in Indo-Anglian literature. George Sampson calls him the most remarkable among Indian poets who wrote in English.

The Third Phase of Indo-Anglian Writings:

      The third phase starts from the early twentieth century.

      (a) Sarojini Naidu, an outstanding woman of her generation, a gifted poetess. Her poetry is pictorial, has the romantic colouring and smooth rhythms of the Georgians, and shows perfect mastery over her chosen medium. She achieves success in the handling of Indian imagery and the expression of Indian personality. Her Indian Weavers, Corn Grinders and such other poems are noted for their rhythmic flow and characteristic Indian imagery. Dr. Iyengar writes: "she tried to catch and reproduce in English lilt and atmosphere of some of the folk-songs, in her early poems like the Bangle-Sellers, Palanquin-Bearers and Snake Charmer." Love and death form the themes of many of her poems. Indian Weavers presents the journey of life in twelve lines:

Weavers, Weaving at break of day
Why do you weave a garment so gay
Blue as the wing of halcyon wild?
We weave the robes of a new born child.
Weavers, weaving at fall of night,
Why do you weave a garment so bright?
Like the plumes of a pea cock, purple and green
We weave the marriage, veils of a queen
Weavers, weaving solemn and still
What do you weave in the moonlight chill?
White as a feather and white as a cloud
We weave a dead man's funeral shroud.

      Here an allusive and symbolic journey of life from birth to death is depicted. The weavers, here, are the three Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Sarojini is profoundly aware of her own tradition, admirable poise, economy and an ear and eye for striking rhythm image and symbol.

      Prof. Viswanathan feels that "perhaps she realised like Keats that fine doing was the top-thing in the world, that poetry should be Deed, not Dream, that poetry is burning oracle only to those that pursue it, not to others," She began with imitating Keats and other English Classics. Her early poetry was found by Edmund Ghose to be western in feeling and imagery and totally without individuality. He advised her to attempt to reveal the heart of India and to be a genuine Indian poetess of the Deccan and not a clever machine, made imitator of the English classics. She took the advise seriously; for the bulk of her poetry in The Golden Threshold, The Bind of Time and The Broken Wing are Indian in spirit, thought and imagery. The Festival of Serpents and Leili are two example of the Hindu accent of Sarojini's poetry.

      Sarojini Naidu has described Indian evening in Leili as

A caste - mark on the azure brows of Heaven,
The golden moon burns sacred, solemn, bright
The winds are dancing in the forest-temple,
And swooning at the holy feet of Night,
Hush! In the silence mystic voices sing
And make the gods their incense-offering.

      Commenting on the image of the moon as "A caste - mark on the azure brows of Heaven", J.H. Cousins remarks: "The symbolism in Mrs. Naidu's poems of the dancing winds as devotees in the temple of nature must surely stand among the fine things of literature; still good as it is, it is poor in comparison with the splendidly daring piece of anthropomorphosis of the first two lines. The figuring of the moon as a caste-mark on the forehead of heaven is in itself a unique achievement of the imagination in a poetry in the English language. Sarojini has immortalised the familiar scenes of everyday life in Modern India. She may lack depth a little, but she always writes gracefully. Her metrical dexterity and craftsmanship mark a distinct advance in the handling of English language and versification. Use of suggestive similies and metaphors, and telling images are other distinctive features of her art.

      (b) Rabindranath Tagore is a great phenomenon in the Indian Literary Renaissance. He combines in himself three distinct roles - that of a poet, a philosopher and a patriot. The special feature of Tagore's lyrics in English is that they are prose poems. Speaking of his prose poems he says: "There is a weight and restraint in the language of poetry. That is what is called metre. Prose is not squeamish. It goes about everywhere with its head erect." His chief poetical works include the Gitanjali, The Gardener, The Crescent Moon, Fruit Gathering, Lover's Gift and Crossing His fame as a poet in English rests chiefly on his Gitanjali which is a transcreation of the Bengali original. It was with this work that he achieved international fame winning Nobel Prize for Literature. The Gitanjali is full of rare charm. The one hundred odd songs in it form a mighty piece of prayer and pleading exultation. They are mainly poems of Bhakti in the great Indian tradition. Yeats says, "The lyrics of Gitanjali display in their thought a world I have dreamed of all my life." The Crescent Moon is a book of poems about children, secret of child's life and thought. One of these Bless this little heart - has a matchless beauty and tenderness:

"I know not how he chose you from the crowd, came to your door, and grasped your hand to ask his way. Forget him not in your hurry, let him come to your heart and bless him."

      Tagore is one of the greatest lyric poets of the world, and Edward Thompson calls his handling of poetic prose an "impeccable metrical achievement", His thought and imagery are Indian, and his poetry is in tradition of Indian devotional poetry. His message is spiritual. According to Verghese the main features of his poetry are, "its humanistic essence combined with a spirituality, a love of nature and man, and the expression of the beauty and splendour of the earth. The poet's spiritual message does not, however, enjoin us to run away from the 'fret and fever of life' and seek shelter in a hermitage, but insists on our full participation in the joys and sorrows of life. Stress on Tagore's mysticism has led to a neglect of his poetry as poetry, it has tended to obscure his greatness as a poet and artist. He perfected a kind of incantatory rythmic prose and demonstrated that Indian sentiment, thought and imagery can be as well expressed in English as in any Indian language."

      (c) Aurobindo Ghosh, a versatile genius and an intellectual giant, his outstanding achievement in prose, poetry and drama rank him as the great figure of Indo-Anglian literature. In his long stretching career from 1890-1950 he has written lyrics, narrative poems, a comic epic and a large body of philosophic, poems. Though he wrote in English only his poems like Urvashi, Love and Death, Savitri are Hindu in setting, sentiment and expression. These poems are full of sensuous images and sweet music. He is great metrical artist who tried to adapt a number of classical metres to English. Savitri is symbolic of the true wife's unflinching devotion and power to overcome even the greatest of evils Death and Satyavan is Truth. Thus Beauty, love and power of devotion and chastity allied to truth can dare anything and achieve anything.

      His mystic poetry has a mantric quality, very close to the Vedic mantras. He is an adapt in the use of blank verse and other English metres. "But his greater achievement lies in the fact that his poetry carries an aroma of the spirituality of India and achieves a rare fusion of personal vision and spiritual personality of India." He constantly reminds one of the poetry of the Vedas.

The Fourth Phase of Indo-Anglian Poetry of the Post-Independence Era:

      A good deal of poetry continues to be written in English and there is much experimentation in an effort to achieve modernity. Modern techniques derived from such English Craftsmen as Eliot, Auden and Dylan Thomas, as well as from the film industry and the advertising industry are being used. This experimental approach, this quest for originality and newness, this stress on individuality and the rejection of all that is traditional, often leads to fantastic results. There is much image-hunting and word-hunting in contemporary Indo-Anglian poetry, and one often doubts if anything realy meaningful is being done. But there are a number of good poets like Dom Maraes, Nissim Ezekiel, P. Lal, Kamala Das, A.K. Ramanujan and others. The Writer's Workshop Poets, have done and are doing, commendable work. Giving an estimate of contemporary Indo-Anglian poetry Amalendu Bose writes, "As a historical phenomenon, it is engrossingly interesting that since 1947 a great deal of poetry has been written by Indians in English; that in both quality and quantity, this poetry compares very well with the English poetry that Indians wrote from the days of Derozio and Kashiprasad Ghose till 1947; that in both quality and quantity, this poetry perhaps compares well also with the poetry of quite a few of the current Indian languages; and that this poetry is the expression of certain attitudes and values believed in by certain sections of today's Indian Society, wholly urban and metro-politan, middle class, familiar with the Euro-American World, either by direct personal experience or in a derivative manner that claims the validity of direct experience. The poetry, in respect of its purposive sense of direction as much as of its balance-sheet of achievement, deserves the attention of the serious students of Indian poetry."

Indo-Anglian Novel:

      The novel took a later start, still the novel has gone far ahead of poetry both in quantity and quality. Very few Indians seem to have attempted fiction in English till the beginning of the present century. During the last quarter of the nineteenth century there was considerable literary activity.

      Toru Dutt's Bianca, Ramesh Chandra Dutt's The Slave Girl of Agra: An Indian Historical Romance (1909) deals with Mughal times and gives a picture of social life in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Love, hatred, intrigue, jealousy, all these are shaken into a compound in the novel.

      A South Indian T. Ramakrishana published two romances Padmini (1903) and The Dive for Death (1912). The first is a romance of the 16th century and narrates the historical events leading to the great battle of Talikote. The Dive for Death, on the other hand, is based on certain South Indian superstitions and has on the whole an eerie atmosphere. Some other famous writings of early twentieth century are Mr. S.B. Banerjee's Tale of Bengal (1910) Mr. K.S. Venkataramani's Paper Boats (1923) and On the Sand Dunes (1923).

      It was only with the Gandhian struggle for freedom that Indo-Anglian novel really came to its own. The ideals of the Indian struggle for freedom are reflected in such novels as K.S. Venkatramani's Aurgan The Tiller (1927) and Kandan, The Patriot (1932). Kandan the Patriot is a novel of new India in the making and dedicated to the unknown volunteer in India's fight for freedom.

      With the publications of Mulk Raj Anand's Untouchable (1935) and Coolie (1936) and Raja Rao's Kanthapura (1938), the novel in English may be said to have come of age. R.K. Narayan's Swami and Friends and the next novel The Bachelor of Arts is a more mature work and invokes variegated claim of character and incident. Few more writers of fiction in English are K. Nagarajan, Bhabani Bhattacharya, Manohar Malgonkar, Khuswant Singh, Kamala Markandya and Anita Desai. All these novelists and many more, have considerably enriched Indo-Anglian fiction. While many good Indo-Anglian novels and many more short stories have already demonstrated the feasibility of Indians writing English fiction, it is nevertheless true that the unique intricacies of social life and the untranslatable nuances of conversational speech are better rendered through the medium of one's own mother tongue. It is therefore certain that much of creative work in fiction in the India of the future will be only done in vernaculars; but good English novels and short stories too will continue to appear, either as translations or as original works.

Obstacles in the Path of Success of Novel:

      The first problem which was faced by the Indian writers writing in English was the language. The flexibility of language to suit different fictitious characters drawn from most varied professions and strata of society was very essential. The Indian atmosphere on the other hand was even most important. Mulk Raj Anand has tried to solve the problem of medium by Indianisation of English words by literal translation into English of Indian expressions, proverbs, etc., and result has not always been a happy one. Raja Rao has more successfully solved this problem. He doesn't write Baboo English but successfully transmutes into English the idiom, the rhythm and the tone of natural speech of his characters. He thus achieves an Indian idiom with its distinct echo of regional speech, without however, lapsing into vulgarisms which mar the work of Anand. Other Indian novelists in English have solved, and are trying to solve, this problem in their own way, so that their language may become a suitable medium for the expressions of the emotional and intellectual life of Indians. R.K. Narayan, for example, writes admirably clean English", an English which he finds, serves his purpose admirably. It is perfectly adopted to communicate Indian sensibility. The next problem that Indo-Anglian novelist faces is that of creating an Indian consciousness. These Indian novels are not only a source of reading for Indians but, it, also depicts the Indian image in front of World. The authentic, national, rational and truthful identity of Indian needs to be depicted but the problem is further complicated by the cultural changes due to the impact of the west. In this relation C. Paul Verghese says, "The dynamics of her contemporary evolution vis-à-vis her traditions, and the realities of her modern life naturally flected in the novels written in modern India consequently, the Indian novelist faces the problem of giving artistic expression to the effect of economic changes and industrialization on the community, the class structure, the old relations among occupations and professions and above all on family ties." Cultural contact and cultural change must be faithfully expressed by the Indo-Anglian novelist.

Indian Drama in English:

      Indo-Anglian drama is not so rich as Indo-Anglian poetry is. The number of great dramatists in the world, as compared to great novelists and great poets, has been very small. Moreover, the difficulty about the language in dialogue, which exists even in the novel, becomes much more significant in drama. Also the dramatic tradition has not been particularly rich even in the regional languages of India. In point of chronology, Indo-Anglian drama has a somewhat impressive record, for the first Indian drama in English, The Persecuted, was written far back in 1832. Tagore and Aurobindo Ghosh are the only two writers who have made contribution to Indian drama in English. Tagore's plays have been failures upon the stage because they are excessively symbolic lyrical poetic plays. They have musical qualities, but even these qualities have been lost in their English 'transcreations'. One of Tagore's most famous plays is the Post Office, though Chitra, The King of Dark Chamber and Sacrifice are also widely known. Chandalika has done very well both as a play and as a ballad. Tagore has tried to impart new values and symbolic significance to ancient Hindu myths and legends. Whatever may be the literary value of such plays, they are not successful stage plays. However, plays like Sacrifice have been quite successful on the stage also.

      Aurobindo Ghosh, the saint, mystic has also written some dramatic works, though they are in the tradition of poetic plays and are not fit for stage. He has employed blank verse as his medium. Among such plays are Perseus, Eric and The Deliverer, The Viziers of Bassora.

      The failure to capture speech rhythms and consequent artificiality characterizes Indian verse drama in general. G.V. Desani's Hali and Bharati Sarabhai's The Well of the People fail in respect of naturalness of speech and convincing characterization. They might have literary poetic qualities but they do not have dramatic qualities. Drama should have graceful and speakable dialogues. It should be racy and close to the spoken language. Whatever be their ranking as literature, they are decidedly weak as dramas. This is unfortunately true of writers who are undoubtedly great otherwise, e.g. the well known poets Harindranath Chattopadhyaya and T.P. Kailasam, authors, respectively, of The Proclamation and The Brahman's Curse. Kailasam, a major Kannada writer, has chosen to base his English plays on epic themes. As a critic has said, Kailasam had undoubtedly the making of a great dramatist in him - a supreme power of the imagination, a sure sense of the dramatic in character and situation, an intimate knowledge of the theatre and a world view which was deeply personal in spite of its classicism. And yet, he never wholly mastered his art, and his English plays though they are among the best in Indian writing, do not achieve greatness."

      The reason for this lies in Kailasam's failure to find for himself an original style of writing suited to his matter and sensibility. The absence of a hving theatre where the plays could be put to the acting test of informed criticism made it impossible for him to realise his own inadequacies. Kailasam, perhaps thought that his lasting contribution in the field of literature was the English plays but his surest claim to immortality are, undoubtedly, the epoch making plays in Kannada, where he does achieve originality as well as greatness. If this has a moral for all English writers seeking creative expression in English, well, it is a moral which deserves to be shown a great deal of respect. As a matter of fact the moral' has undisputed application to drama only, for Indian writers in English have been able to achieve real greatness in all other fields of literature.

Indian Prose Drama:

      Indian prose drama in English also suffers from these very faults. Harinadranath's Five Plays, Fyzee, Rahamin's Daughter of India, A.S.P Ayyar's The Slave of India and Other plays, Asif Currimbhoy's The Tour ist Mecca, The Doldrummers and The Dumb Dancer and many others do not rise above ordinary conversation in their dialogue, and are dull, drab, flat and artificial. There is too much of speechifying, too frequent intrusions of colloquialism and wrong use of Indian phrases and idioms. Such plays are the products of craft rather than of art. The dramatists have no individual vision of life, or at least they fail to communicate it through their works.

      A dramatist who has risen above mediocrity is Pratap Sharma, who has written some actable plays like A Touch of Brightness though even his plays are full of loopholes. Patel's plays like the Princess have been able to avoid most of these pitfalls. Another dramatist who may be mentioned in this connection is shanta Rana Rau whose Passage to India, an adaptation of the famous novel of that name, really comes to life, though a great deal of the credit for this goes to Forster than to Rana. The well-known poet, Nissim Ezekiel has also written plays which are interesting in the sense that they succeed where most other Indian plays in English fail, namely, dialogues. His plays Nalini and The Marriage Poem may in this respect be regarded as models for other Indian writers. Still one must confess that in the field of Indo-Anglian drama a great writer has yet to appear and no convincing achievement has been made so far.

Conclusion:

      There is considerable poetic activity in India at present in the field of Indo-Anglian poetry. The influence of English poets like Eliot and Dylan Thomas can be seen in the Indo-Anglian poetry of the last two decades. The natural result of this influence has been fastidiousness in form and an abundance of the intellectual element, which, unfortunately, is quite often contrived. The experimental note has been struck in recent Indo-Anglian poetry quite often. Sometimes there seems to be a craze for originality, though the result might be only eccentricity. The most prolific among recent poets are P. Lal Nissem Ezekiel, A.K. Ramanujan, Dom Moraes and Kamla Das. In many cases the best Indo-Anglian poetry can stand by the best English poetry that is being written anywhere in the world, although there is also quite a lot which is trivial. The writer's workshop has been of much-help to the poets, especially in the matter of publication. It is quite probable that Indo-Anglian poetry will continue to march from strength to strength. The Indian novel characterized by a variety of themes and techniques, continues to change and grow, and adapt itself to the changing Indian environment. Social, political, technological and industrial changes have brought corresponding changes in its substance. However, in the field of characterization the Indian novelist in English has not been quite so successful because of their stereotype characters. The failure of creating individualised character is one major deficiency among novelists. Secondly they are carried away by the lure of creating the image of a romantic and glamorous India, Such novels distort reality and the novelist must guard himself against such dangers.

Previous Post Next Post

Google Search