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Hindi Literature

Prabhakar Machwe

Edited by Dr. Narendra Mohan
Simant Publications, Delhi, 1976, 247, 35.00

VOLUME II NUMBER 5 September-October 1977

This book is also available in English under the title: Writings on India's Parti­tion edited by Ramesh Mathur, Maheep Singh and Mahendra Kulasreshta. The 22 page introduction analyses the influence of Indian Partition on fiction, giving the political background to this dark chapter in modern Indian history. The selection is very carefully done. Hindi is repre­sented by ‘Agyeya’ (S.H. Vatsyayan), Krishna Sobti (whose story is the title of the book), Devendra Issar, Bhishma Sahni, Mahip Singh, Mohan Rakesh, Vishnu Prabhakar and the lone Muslim Hindi writer Khwaja Badiuzzaman; Urdu is represented by Ashfaque Ahmed, A. Hamid, Rajendrasingh Bedi and Saadat Hasan Manto (his classic Toba Tek Singh is there); Punjabi by three writers, Kulwant Singh Virk, Gulzar Singh Sandhu, Lochan Bakhshi; Sindhi by Shekh Ayuz, Gulzar Ahmed and Motilal Jotwani; Bengali by Manoj Basu and Manik Banerji; Gujarati and Marathi by Jayant Dalal and N.G. Gore. The stories are full of deep human concern and sympathy for the victims of the short­sighted political vendetta and recrimina­tion. This collection reveals how litera­ture rises above all barriers of caste, creed, language, region and cultural myopia. The editors and translators have done a very valuable yeoman service, in presenting at one glance, through Hindi and English translations the reactions of writers who were most affected by the Partition in U. P., Punjab, Sindh and Bengal. From the Assamese and from Bangla Desh stories could have been included, of which there are many poignant pieces. This collection sadly lacks in stories from the four south Indian languages. This is a serious lacuna. I am sure writers in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kan­nada must have reacted to this terrible holocaust and the traumatic experience the subcontinent underwent in 1947-48. I hope in the next edition or a compa­nion volume, this defect will be recti­fied. The translations from other languages are fairly satisfactory and they retain the flavour of the original. The compiler rightly writes in his introduction: ‘These stories are the human and psychological document of the political tragedy of partition. They express the multi­dimensional aspects of the various forms and facets of that historical-cultural cata­strophe and the internal and external problems thrown up by it, with the undercurrent of human compassion. This has an identity of its own in Indian fiction where a cultural holocaust has been re-lived and re-interpreted at a creative ...

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