Indian literature in English over the ages

By Abhinash on January 6, 2012

Indian literature in English dates back to around two hundred years since 1800, where several authors have written many Indian literature books in English. The date has no literary significance but is chosen for its rough and ready usefulness. By 1800 there was no real challenge left to the British domination of Indian from either the other European powers in the region. British domination eventually covered all aspects of Indian life. Whether it was political, economic, social, or cultural. The introduction of English into the complex, hierarchical language system of India has proved the most enduring aspects of this domination.

British interest in Indian literature

As Halhed bluntly said, arose from the necessity of having to cultivate ‘a medium of intercourse between the Government and its subjects, between the natives of Europe who are to rule, and the inhabitants of India who are to obey. But the scholars-administrators who busied themselves with Persian and Sanskrit, ‘moors’ and Bengali were not always patronizing in their attitude, nor did they put their newly acquired skills always to imperialist uses. Even Halhed, who wrote and printed one of the earliest Bengali grammars, by the Europeans, is remembered also as the first Englishman to be influenced by Oriental mysticism.

The spread of English literature in India

The beginning of English education and knowledge of English literature and science through the medium of the English language offered a fresh fillip to the growth and expansion of the English language in India. Throughout the world, the Indian contribution has been acclaimed in the realm of world literature. In the modern setup, the contribution of India has been basically through the Indian literature in English and novelists are considered to be forerunners in this aspect. A sizeable number of novelists, on the library horizon, have given vent to their creative urge in no other language than English. They have earned credulity to establish Indian English fiction as a prime force in world fiction. Since the Thirties, Indian novel written in English has become the trend-making voices on the native soil. This spearheaded the progressive ideas and experiments in the novel writing. At the same time, it has got a remarkable status and meaningful recognition in the complex body of Indian literature delving deep directly into the Indian mind and heart which is denied to outside readers because of the language obstacles. In fact, it is by no means an irrelevant undertaking for a real lover of literature to venture into an exploratory analysis of Indian English literature. It is in terms of the cultural values and the Kaleidoscope nature that have influenced them. The Indian English literature has been an outcome of change. It has also become the perennial source of the consciousness and conscience of that change. The vast orbit of assimilation and inclusion pertaining to the Indian model of temperament, culture and civilization has been reflected and projected in a set thought and theory in such savant grade thinkers as those of Tagore and Nehru. Tagore’s philosophy of Universality which he applied and embodiment in his artistic sensibility has been imitated by Nehru in the doctrine of Panch-Sheel. Which can be interpreted as an Indian historical and cultural extension. The contemporary objectives situations in the thirties were conductive to imaginative work because the creativity has been inextricably embedded with the national situation in general in the Indian tradition of learning, unlike the west. The creative soul neither merely craves for universal recognition nor hawkers after personal and individual identity. The Indian English literature in general and the Indian English novel, in particular, made their debut in the thirties. The growth and maturity of the Indian sensibility in modern times evinces a panoramic area and arena of probability and potentiality.

Rich Indian literature

Thus it can be seen that Indian literature, irrespective of the language in which it was expressed has continued to remain rich and reflective of the culture and heritage. Although changes have been taking place in the recent centuries, the majority of the most critically acclaimed novels are set against the backdrop of classical Indian places and families.

I am currently working as a Research Associate. My work is centered on Macroeconomics with modern econometric approach. Broadly, the methodological research focuses on Panel data and Times series data analysis for causal inference and prediction. I also served as a reviewer to Journals of Taylor & Francis Group, Emerald, Sage.


1 thought on “Indian literature in English over the ages”