India: Awakening the aesthete within the reader


Munshi Premchand, whose 135th birth anniversary was on July 31, aimed to take the average middle-class reader from a state of ennui and indifference to a state of enlightenment: The Hindu

Upanyas samrat (master novelist) — that’s how Munshi Premchand, whose 135th birth anniversary was on July 31, is known in modern Hindi literature. His patois consisted of a delicious combination of Urdu and Hindi (Urdu-mishrit-Hindi, as critics call it), expressed in a form that even an unlettered person could easily relate to. A socialist, feminist, progressive intellectual much before these terms acquired their modern definitions, Premchand believed in championing the cause of the marginalised — like peasants, widows, prostitutes — through his writing. His oeuvre —14 novels and 300 short stories — established his reputation as a genius. His reflections in the form of numerous essays provide a glimpse into the mind of the master-wordsmith.

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