December 4, 2022

KITAAB

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Bookmarked Musings: Indo-English literature in an Indian context by Dr. Ramlal Agarwal

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Dr. Ramlal Agarwal’s essay captures the journey of Indo-English Literature from 1857 when it started to date with great emphasis on the various milestones and important contributors to this journey.

During my undergraduate and postgraduate days in the early 1960s, Indian writing in English was not a subject of academic discussions and seminars as it was in the 1970s and 1980s. Individual writers like R.K. Narayan, Mulk Raj Anand, and Raja Rao were discussed, but the eggheads in the department of English showed utter disregard and distrust towards them. In fact, Indian writing in English has been plagued with disregard and distrust ever since it began to take root in this country.

Indians started writing in English around 1857. This coincided with the setting up of three Indian universities in the country. 1857 was also the year of the Indian Mutiny and the revival of interest in Indian languages. A minuscule section of Indian society was getting more and more anglicized, whereas the overwhelming majority was getting fired up with patriotic feelings. Madhusudan Dutt, Rameshchandra Dutt, and his poet cousins Tom and Bankimchandra were among the first Indians to start using English for creative purposes.

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