Page No: 200
Write in Brief
1. Explain the following:
(a) Social changes in Britain which led to an increase in women readers
(b) What actions of Robinson Crusoe make us see him as a typical coloniser.
(c) After 1740, the readership of novels began to include poorer people.
(d) Novelists in colonial India wrote for a political cause.
(a) As the middle classes became more affluent, women got more leisure time to read and write novels. Also, novels began to explore the world of women, their emotions, identities, experiences and problems. Domestic life became an essential subject of novels- a field women had an authority to speak about.
(b) Robinson Crusoe’s actions that make us see him as a typical coloniser are many. Shipwrecked on an island inhabited by coloured people, Crusoe treats them as inferior beings. He is portrayed as “rescuing” a native and then making him a slave. He gives him the name Friday, without even caring to ask for his name. Colonised people were seen as barbaric and primitive, and colonialism became their self-professed civiliser. Crusoe was a direct representation of this ideology of colonisers.
(c) After 1740, the readership of novels began to include poorer people because of the introduction of circulating libraries, low-priced books, and also because of the system of hiring out of books by the hour. This made books easily available to the poor people, who could not afford books earlier due to high costs and absence of lending libraries.
(d) Novelists in colonial India wrote for a political cause because the novel was a powerful medium for expressing social defects and suggesting remedies for the same. It also helped establish a relationship with the past. Since people from all walks of life could read novels, it was an easy way to popularise anti-colonial ideas. It also helped bring about a sense of national unity among the people.
2. Outline the changes in technology and society which led to an increase in readers of the novel in eighteenth-century Europe.
→ Print made novels to be read widely and become popular quickly.
→ Novels produced a number of common interests and a variety of readers.
→ Readers were drawn into the story and identified themselves with the lives of fictitious characters. They now could think about issues like love and marriage, proper conduct for men and women.
→ Prosperity, due to industrialisation, made new groups join the readership for novels. Besides the aristocratic and gentlemanly classes, new groups of lower-middle-class people such as shopkeepers and clerks joined in.
→ The rise in the earnings of authors freed them the from the patronage of aristocrats. They could now experiment with different literary styles. Epistolary novel – Samuel Richardson’s Pamela – written in the 18th century was the first of its kind. It was a story told through letters.
→ Books became cheap and even the poor could buy them. Circulating libraries made books easily accessible. Publishers also started hiring out novels. Books could now be read in private or could be heard by more people, while one of them read it out.
→ Magazines serialised stories (Charles Dickens’ Pickwick Papers was the first), illustrated them and sold them cheap.
All these changes increased the number of readers.
3. Write a note on:
(a) The Oriya novel
(b) Jane Austen’s portrayal of women
(c) The picture of the new middle class which the novel Pariksha-Guru portrays.
(a) In 1877-78, Ramashankar Ray started to serialise the first Oriya novel, “Saudamini”; but it remained incomplete. Orissa’s first major novelist was Fakir Mohon Senapati. He wrote “Chaa Mana Atha Guntha” that deals with land and its possession. This novel illustrated that rural issues could be an important part of urban concerns.
(b) The novels of Jane Austen give us a glimpse of the world of women in genteel rural society in midnineteenth century Britain. Women, at that time, were encouraged to look for a good marriage and find a wealthy and propertied husband. Her famous novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’ depicts this well. It writes ‘it is the truth, universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a good wife’. The main characters are shown to be pre-occupied with marriage and money.
(c) The novel “Pariksha-Guru” portrays the difficulties of the new middle class in adapting to colonised society while preserving its cultural identity. It emphasises that Western ideals must be inculcated, but without sacrificing the traditional values of middle-class households. The characters in this Hindi novel by Srinivas Das are seen endeavouring to bridge the two different worlds of modern education and traditional ethics.
1. Discuss some of the social changes in nineteenth-century Britain which Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens wrote about.
Social changes in 19th century Britain highlighted by Thomas Hardy
2. Summarise the concern in both nineteenth-century Europe and India about women reading novels. What does this suggest about how women were viewed?
The concern in both nineteenth-century Europe and India about women reading novels bore more or less similar fears. Women were seen as easily corruptible and an imaginary world that the novel provided was seen as a dangerous opening for the imaginations of its readers. In certain Indian communities, it was felt that women who read novels would leave their domestic environments and aspire to be part of the outside world- the male domain.
This suggests that women were viewed as delicate and incapable of being independent. They were merely expected to marry a man who could take care of their financial needs while they maintained his household and remained subservient to him.
3. In what ways was the novel in colonial India useful for both the colonisers as well as the nationalists?
The novel in colonial India was useful for both the colonisers as well as the nationalists on account of a variety of reasons. Colonial rulers found “vernacular” novels illuminating for the information they provided on native customs and life. It was useful in the governance of this diverse country. Indian nationalists used the form of the novel to criticise colonial rule and instill a sense of national pride and unity amongst the people.
Indians used the novel as a powerful medium to criticise what they considered defects in their society and to suggest remedies. The issue of caste was included in Indian novels for this same purpose. Novels like Indirabai and Indulekha were written by members of the uppercastes with upper-caste characters.
→ Potheri Kunjambu, a lower-caste writer from north Kerala, wrote a novel called Saraswativijayam in 1892. It was a direct attack on caste oppression. The novel’s hero, an ‘untouchable’ leaves his village to escape from cruelty of a Brahmin overlord. He converts to Christianity, receives modern education and returns to his village a judge of a local court. In the meantime, the villagers bring the landlord to his court, they believe the landlord’s men had killed the hero. The judge reveals himself and the Nambuthri landlord repents and promises to reform. The novel emphasises the role of education in uplifting the lower classes.
→ In 1920, a Bengali novel Titash Ekti Nadir Naam (1956) written by Advaita Malla Burman takes up the cause of ‘low castes’. The people described are the Mallas – community of fishermen. The story covers three generations and describes the oppression of the upper castes. The lives of the Mallas is tied with river Titash. As the river dries, the community dies too. This novel is special because the author himself a ‘low caste’ describing the anguish of low-caste people.
→ Many historical novels were about Marathas and the Rajputs which produced a sense of a pan—Indian belonging in Bengal. They imagined the nation to be full of adventure, heroism, romance and sacrifice. The novel allowed the colonized to give a shape to their desires.
→ Shivaji, the hero of the novel Anguriya Binimoy (1857) written by Budhadeb Mukhopadhyaya’s (1827-94) engages in many battles against clever and treacherous Aurangzeb, what gives him courage and grit is his belief that he is a nationalist fighting for the freedom of Hindus.