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Revisiting Premchand


By Jitendra Srivastava
Sabda Shristi , Delhi, 2002, Rs. 110.00

By Jitendra Srivastava
Prakashan Sansthan, Delhi, 2004, Rs. 150.00


In the realm of Hindi literature Munshi Premchand is still the most popular among readers. As far as progressive writing is concerned, he stands as a guiding force for those who believe in writing with a social purpose. During the 60s and 70s the style of Premchand seemed to many a bit obsolete as Hindi fiction had undergone a tangible change due to certain socioeconomic conditions. The period of Nayi Kahani and that of various other movements in Hindi fiction writing made the simple pen of Munshi look a bit dusty and rusty, although the general public kept on reading the fiction of the straightforward man with a subtle belief in his sincerity of approach to life and a narration with strong readability. His works began to be read again in the 80s perhaps with more fervour and seen in different social and political perspectives. There were several reasons for the revival of interest in the works of Premchand. The most important reason was the emergence of the communal forces on the Indian political scene. This underlined not only the importance of his fiction but the journalistic writing which he did in many newspapers and journals of his time. In his writing, we find a sharp criticism of communal ideology and parochial outlook to the questions of nationalism and society. Moreover, the 80s and 90s saw a general rehabilitation of the social and the political in the literary studies in Hindi. In recent years, we have seen the publication of two important books by a young critic from the Hindi world. Jitendra Srivastava is better known for his poems rather than his critical contributions to Hindi literature. But his two books on Premchand positively hint at his critical prowess which he may exercise significantly in the field of literary criticism in general and in the field of Premchand studies in particular. The first book Bhartiya Samaj ki Samasyayen aur Premchand, published in 2002, a period marred by the Gujarat riots and communal disharmony, includes the underrated journalistic writings of Munshi Premchand, as they clearly delineate the ideological position of the author. Thus, the critical endeavour does not emerge from the aesthetic curiosity of literary pursuit of the critic alone but arises out of his feeling of social restlessness. The book makes a critical analysis of the works of Premchand in the light of various socioeconomic perspectives, and in the process presents ...

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