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Development of Indian English Prose

Prose was the first of the literary forms in Indian English literature, and it continues to be the
largest and most vigorous form. Born properly with the reforming zeal of Raja Rammohan Roy,
and aimed at educated people all over the country, the astonishing and irritating flexibility of
the language was hammered into an effective weapon of exposition, argument, and
exhortation against the British by a long line of eminent patriots such as Brahmabandhab
Upadhyay, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Mahatma Gandhi. More recent practitioners, such as Mr.
Chaudhari and Ved Mehta, have used it at least as effectively and creatively, if to quite different
purposes. As might be expected, poetry was the most important literary form of the nineteenth
century, and though it is not of such central importance now, an everincreasing number of
Indian poets are writing and publishing in English. Fiction in English presents an opposite sort of
line on the graph, compared to poetry, for it shows a steadily increasing popularity at first, and
now an algebraic growth rate, both in the number of works published, and in the print runs of
individual titles.

The development of prose can be seen in the form of novel and short story.

Indian English novel

The story of the Indian English novel is really the story of a changing India. Indian Writing in
English has come quite a long way from the mere use of English language to the authentic tool
for expressing one’s ideas, thoughts, concepts and imagination. There was a time when
education was a rare opportunity and speaking English was unnecessary. It has attained
maturity, but it is not that it suddenly emerged from nowhere. It has had its phases of
development. The stories were already there- in the myths, in the folklore and the umpteen
languages and cultures that gossiped, conversed, laughed and cried all over the subcontinent.
India has always been a land of stories, the demarcation between ritual and reality being very

The credit of starting the tradition of novel in India especially goes to Bengali novelists: Michael
Madhusudan Dutt with Captive Ladie (1849), the only novel in English. Thereafter he started his
career in Bengali poems. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (1938-94) with his first effort wrote
Rajmohan’s Wife (1864). He took the life of an ordinary middle class Bengali family as a subject
of his novel.

Amongst the beginners of Indian English fiction mention must be made of Bankimchandra
Chatterjee who was a pioneer of Indian English novel. Harish Raizada observes, "The creative
energy of promising writers who were hesitant and shy of writing novels. By writing historical,
social and philosophical novels, he decided the future course of this literary form in India and
came to be known as the father of Indian novel."(Trevor111) Bankimchandra Chatterjee's
Rajmohun's Wife (1864) is the first Indian English novel.

Other Indian writers followed Bankimchandra Chatterjee. Raj Laxmi Devi published her work
The Hindu Wife in 1876. A Kerala Christian missionary Mrs. Richard Collin wrote The Slayer Slain
in 1877. Kali Krishna Lahiri published his work Rasinarain 1881. H. Dutt published Bijay Chand in
1888; and Kshetrapal Chakrabarti published his Sarataand Hinganain 1895. Rabindranath
Tagore wrote several works in English and Bengali.

Toru Dutt (1856-1877), an eminent poetess of the period, wrote a novel called Bianca in 1878.
The novel is "more a product of imagination than of experience."

R. K. Narayan was one of the three great Indian novelists in English. Narayan received
inspiration from great critic-writers of the West like Elizabeth Bowen, E. M. Forster and Graham
Greene. His first novel Swami and Friends (1935) is memorable. His other novels are The English
Teacher, Financial Expert (1952), Mr. Sampath, The Vendor of Sweets (1967), The Bachelor of
Arts (1936), Waiting for the Mahatma (1955), A Tiger for Malgudi (1983), The World of Nagaraj
(1990) and The Man Eaters of Malgudi (1961).

Mulk Raj Anand (1905-2004) is another great Indian English writer of international fame.his
famous novel is Untouchable.

Anita Desai, born to Polish father and Bengali mother, has written several novels in English. Her
novels like Bye Bye Blackbird, Cry, the Peacock, Voices in the City (1965), Where Shall We Go
This Summer? (1975), In Custody (1984) and Baumgartner's Bombay (1988) are notable.

Broadly, novel falls into a category of ‘prose’ though it is essentially dramatic. It creates a world
through action, dialogues and images. It is centered in a narrative. A novel is a work of
imagination. It presents a fictional world in such a way as to make us feel that it is a real one. So
novel is both, fantasy and truth. In it an artist forms, from the chaos of everyday life, a work
that is ordered and aesthetically satisfying. In the process he distorts time and compresses or
eliminates many details from commonplace experience. He selects events and people and
organizes them to illustrate what he believes to be truth. As such, a novel comprises of setting,
mood, story and characterization.

Short stories

Indian writers of short fiction in English were neither numerically nor literarily significant until
the beginning of the present century. Manjerj S. Isvaran is one of the first Indian writers in
English of a recognizable stature to oast his lot with the development of the short story, and he
did so at a time when it was yet to find a foothold in the field of Indo-Anglian letters. Before his
advent, the short story as a modern art form had mainly been the occasional diversion of a

Isvaran who published his first collection of short stories, Naked Shingles, in 1941, is the first
Indian writer in English to establish a reputation almost solely on the basis of his achievement
in the field of short story. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Saratchandra Chatterjee, Romesh
Chandra Dutt and others who were concerned primarily with novels had sporadically tried their
hands at short stories. Rabindra Nath Tagore to whose credit stand some of the finest short
stories in English was primarily concerned with other literary forms like poems, plays and
novels. Though Isvaran"s better known contemporaries, Raja Rao, Mulk Raj Anand and R.K.
Narayan have authored some inimitable short stories, their reputation rests on their novels,
rather than on their short stories.

The genesis of Indian tales tan be traced back to the Vedas and the Upanishads. the Puranas.
the Fanchatantra and the Jataka Tales. These are older than the fables of Aesop and travelled
beyond the bounds of the subcontinent to Asia Minor in the North West and China in the North
East. Mahabharata and Ramavana. the twin epics, have proved inexhaustible mines from which
creative artists of the country have quarried for their material for ages.

The first Indian short story writer in English with a considerable output is Cornelia Sorabjee, a
woman lawyer of Calcutta. Her four collections of short stories are Love and Life Behind the
Purdah (1901). Sunbabies: Studies in the Child Life of India (1904). Between the Twilights: Being
Studies of Indian Women bv One of Themselves (1909) and Indian Tales of the Great Ones
among Men.

Notable short story collections which appeared in the first two decades of the present century
are S.M. Natesa Sastri’s Indian Folk-Tales (1908), Dwijendra Nath Neogi’s Sacred Tales of India
(1916), A. 15 Madhavaiah’s Short Stories by Kusika (1960). and Sunita Devi’s Bengal Dacoits and
Tigers (1916) and Beautiful Moghul Princesses (1918). The Gandhian era witnessed an
accelerated pace in the development of the short story as an art form. The revolutionary
fervour that characterised the social, political and moral movements of the period are
refreshingly mirrored in the literature of that period.

Short stories collections by R.K.Narayan:

 An Astrologer’s Day and Other Stories (1947)
 Lawley Road and Other Stories (1956)
 A Horse and Two Goats (1970)

Short Stories by Kushwant Singh:
 The Mark of Vishnu and Other Stories (1950)
 The Voice of God and Other Stories (1957)
 A Love Affair In London(2005)
 The Portrait of a Lady (2009)
Short Stories by Ruskin Bond:
 The Panther’s Moon-Collection of 10 Short Stories(1969)
 The Road To The Bazaar –Collection of 16 Short Stories(1980)
Short Stories by Salman Rushdie:
 Homeless by Choice Co-authors R.Jhabvala and V.S.Naipaul (1992)
 East, West (1994)
 The Best American Short Stories-As Guest Editor (2008)
Short stories by Aravind Adiga:
 “The Sultan’s Battery”
 “Smack”
 “Last Christmas in Bandra”

we can conclude that Indian English prose developed very gradually the writers contributed a
lot in the development of prose .