Saturday, November 25, 2006

emergence of the indian short story

This post will contain excerpts of introductions. Plural, because, the book contains two introductions. A little about the book. An anthology of short stories, published by the Sahitya Akademi. It is divided into two portions. Both contain introductions, which explain the awakening, the realization that was spreading through-out the country. Being divided on the basis of time, the first from 1900-1950 and the second from 1950-2000. Staunchly revered by me, in the same manner in which father worships Purushotamma by Yashvant Chittal. Flipping those pages, makes me discover something new, every time.

Here are the lines, i admire.

During the course of the century, the Indian short story has gone though several mutations. They have evolved in style and substance to emerge as the most vibrant literary form in modern Indian literature. Tagore, Premchand, Manto....

The development of short story as a literary form owes a great deal to the ascendancy of prose and popularity of the periodical press.... The gradual emergence of a public sphere under the influence of the freedom struggle necessitated extensive use of prose in combating and creating ideological positions and public opinions.... No other form reflects the polyphony and plurality of Indian cultural life as the short story.

Languages like Dogri, Konkani, Maithili, Rajathani and Kashmiri were late in discovering the potential of this popular form. (Bal Kaka and Nono - Ved Rahi, in Dogri is one of the best short stories that i've come across.)

A little insight into another of my favorites.

This society was riven by tragic divisions of caste, gender and class. Premchand's Kafan is as much about differences and dispossession as about psychological scars left economic deprivation. This is a rare story that brings about the invisible violence inflicted by poverty in all its starkness. Ghisu in his sixty years of existence has rarely had a square meal. He still remembers the feast at the thakur's wedding where he ate his stomach full. The father and son get drunk with the money that are given by the zamindar for the funeral of the son's wife. They sing, dance and fall down in a stupor. Premchand makes no explicit comments on the feudal system and the deprivation and dehumanization it inflicts on its victims'. But the story eloquently communicates the condition of the dalits in rural India. When Mrinal Sen made a film based on this story, he chose the setting of an Andhra village, thus confirming its relevance and appeal for the entire India.

The short story was one of the mediums that helped us imagine the nation.
the stories collected here document 'the pulse of the nation' during the most
turbulent times. These stories do not essentialize India and reduce it to some
simplistic abstractions. Perhaps this is why we need more fiction than


The 'Ekaangi' said...

sorry...this is nothin related to your post...but i prefer the greyish-whitish coloured font u use for text than black...and somehow it seems you are more suited to be a historian, or a sociologist, or maybe a thinker...than a microbiolgist...somethin u call in kannada as 'bhuddhi jeevi'...of course its a compliment !!

Srik said...

Good post.

Its so amazing that a short story captures more details in just a few pages than a much bigger novel(of cource if written well).
One big example of short story capturing the 100 page details in 10 pages is the Malgudi days. agree?

And I need to make another comment here.. short stories not only capture 'the pulse of the nation', but they create an imaginary world that makes us believe we are out of this world for a few moments at least. One such example is Rabindranath Tagore and his short stories. There was one "A wrong man in worker's paradise"! Amazing imagination, wonderful explaination..! Oh! That succesfully created a whole new romantic atmostphere around me, while I read it. Believe me, it was the first time I was so enthralled with romantic emotions, no movie, no novel could do it, but a small short story!! The power of hidden 1000 words in less than 1/10th of it is the success of such short stories.

December Stud said...


Excellent topic....but I need more.....You should really feed us some more of this. This is brilliant !!!

My point on this, short story, similar to any other form of literature has it's own unique captivates and awakens a set of people and touches the right chord. So, doe s alot of other mediums. It is just another color in the rainbow, and a nice one.

mouna said...

thanks for the compliment, but i'd stick with bio, i like it, this is just a past-time. i cannot somehow consider sociology-like-subjects as my mainstream course!!

short stories not only captures a lot within a few pages, but, the same is put across to a reader.

nice to hear that you got to explore a subject thru a story, i've had similar instances too, i realised the beauty of the garhwals, the excitement attached to walking in a tuneel, during the night.....

the feeling is simply enthralling... btw, u are right about the malgudi days, i agree :)

thanks, probably i shall post some more on this....short story is one limb of literature, which is easily approachable, and easily understood. one needn't be learned to understand it, unlike poetry. novels are longer lengthwise, what i'm trying to say is: short stories get published in periodicals, while novels are hard to source.... i guess that's the USP of a short story.... a colour in a ranibow which is easy to recognise and relate to...

PS: srik, ds, i have posted related material under the same label.....

mouna said...

srik, i am talking about ruskin bond, u read his works?

December Stud said...


Agreed.....and I always keep saying this - "Prose is for the reader, poetry is for the writwer" - inspite of my favorite medium of expression being poetry.

IMO, outside India, one of the greatest short story writers are O.Henry and Guy de Maupassant.

mouna said...

O. Henry and Guy de Maupassant are my favourites too, i'd like to add Leo tolstoy to that list, it is said that indian literature, especially, short stories seem to have taken inspiration from Leo Tolstoy.

Srik said...

Absolutely. Leo Tolstoy is one of the legends who's work hold good all seasons and all generations. I've read Ruskin Bond and O Henry as well. I just have not many words to express about their creativity and the style. I could read and understand a lot of values in their societies thru their eyes.

Srik said...

And, hey I remember that story as well(One you referred on my page), Yes the 'confidence' is what many people lack in, but not the talent.

mouna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mouna said...

Rightly said, Ruskin Bond, is simply fascinating. Something that each one of us could relate to.