The Rise of Novel

  • In earlier times the handwritten manuscripts were not able to reach the masses due to its limitations whereas the printed novels were able to cater to the masses.
  • The novels drew the readers into the story and wrote about their lives as a fictitious character.
  • England and France were the frist from where the novels started in the 17th century but became popular in the 18th century.
  • The earliest readers of the nvoels were the aristocratic and gentlemanly sections of England and France. The lower middle class people like shopkeers and clerks became the new reawders of the novels.
  • The income of the novel authors rose due to the increase in number of readers and expansion of novel market. Due to this the authors became independent to write the novels with different literary styles. Earlier for finance, they were dependent on the aristocrats.
  • Henry Fielding, Walter Scott and Samuel Richardson were the known novel writers in the earlier times.

The Publishing Market

  • Earlier the novels were costly and thus not reached to the poor. For example, the novel Tom Jones written by Henry Fielding was published in 6 volumes. Each costs 3 shillings which was more than a week’s earning of the labourers.
  • In the year 1740, the introduction of circulating libratries made the novels available to the poor. In this system, the books were lent to the readers for a small fee.
  • The books became cheaper and the market expanded due to the technological improvements and newer innovation.
  • Readons for the popularity of the novels – it created an absorbing and believeable world, the imagination of the reader took them in another person’s world and feel the experiences fo the character, it gave pleasure of reading in private and public and they were related to the lives of the common people.
  • Charles Dickens’ Pickwick Papers was serialized in the year 1836 in a magazine which were quite attractive due to the illustrations of the low price. Serialization helped the readers to enjoy the suspense for weeks.

The World of the Novel

  • Hard Times, a novel written by Charles Dickens in the year 1854, described the conditions of the industrial towns and the workers there and criticized the greed for profits by the industrialists.
  • The industrial towns were full of machinery, chimneys and pollution.
  • The condition of the workers were quite pathetic as they were overworked, underpaid, and homeless and lived in workhouses. They were known as hands becaue their identity was only as operators of machines.
  • Oliver Twist was another novel written by Charles Dickens in the year 1838, which explained the horrible conditions of the urban life due to the industrial capitalism.
  • In the novel Oliver Twist, a poor orphan lived with the petty criminals and beggars in a cruel workhouse but finally adopted by a wealthy man and lived the later life happily.
  • Germinal, a novel written by Emile Zola in the year 1885. This novel was based on the life of a young miner living the grim condition of miners’ life in France.

Community and Society

  • Some of the novels were successful in developing a feeling of connection in the city novel readers with the fate of the rural communities.
  • One such novel was written by Thomas Hardy, a British novelist. He wrote about the fast vanishing traditional rural communities because the large farmers brought machines, employed labourers and fenced off the land.
  • Mayor of Casterbridge, a novel written by Thomas Hardy in the year 1886, was a story of a successful grain merchant named Michael Hencard. He became the major of the farming town called Casterbridge. He was known for his own style of running the business and was both unpredictably generous and cruel with his employees.
  • The vernacular language was used in the novels because it was the language of the common people which also developed a feeling of the shared world between the diverse people.

The New Women

  • Due to the expansion of industrialisation, trade and business in the 18th century, the middle class also become rich. Their women got more leisure time to read and write the novels.
  • To make the novels more popular among the women, their emotions, identities, experiences and problems in the domestic life, family life and public recognition were shared through the novels.
  • Pride and Prejudice, a novel written by Jane Austen in the early 19th century Britain wrote about the genteel rural society women. The very first sentence of this novel states that it’s a universally acknowledged truth that man with good fortune must be in want of a wife.
  • In the Austen’s society the main characters were preoccupied with marriage and money.
  • The society in the novels of Jane Austen encouraged women to look for good marriages with a wealthy husband.
  • Other women novelists also wrote about the women who broke the existing society norms before adjusting. These novels developed a feeling of sympathy for the women and also a rebellion action.
  • Jane Eyre, a novel written by Charlotte Bronte was published in the year 1847. The young Jane was independent and bold, just the opposite to the other girls of her time who were quite and well behaved. She protested the hypocrisy of her elders. She told her aunt that she was not good and will never call her aunt.

Novels for the Young

  • Treasure Island written by R.L.Stevenson in the year 1883, Jungle Book by Rudyard in the year 1894 and the historical adventure novels of G.A.Henty were the great hit novels for the young boys.
  • These novels idealized a new type of man with great power, boldness, independence and daring.
  • In these novels the colonisers appeared heroic and honorable who were colonizing the areas and then did the development there.
  • These novels were full of excitement and adventure and witnessed the grand historical events, military action and the English courage.
  • Ramona was the most popular love story novel in the US written by Helen Hunt Jackson in the year 1884.

Colonialism and After

  • The time when the novels started in Europe, it was a good period of colonisation in the rest of the world, therefore the novels made the readers feel a part of the superior community.
  • Robinson Crusoe was the hero of Daniel Defoe’s novel which was written in the year 1719. The hero was an adventurer and slave trader who treated the colored people inferior.
  • The novels of that time idealized the colonized people as primitive, barbaric, less than human who need to be civilized and made human by the colonial rule.
  • But the writers like Joseph Conard in the 20th century started writing about the darker side fo the colonial rule.

The Novel Comes to India

  • There was a long tradition of stories in prose tales in Sanskrit, Persian and Urdu. For example, Kadambari was written by Bandbhatta in Sanskrit and Panchatantra. But these were not recognized as novels.
  • The Indians became familiar with western novels in the 19th century. The earliest novels in India were written in Bengali and Marathi languages.
  • Yamuna Paryatan, a novel written by Baba Padmanji in Marathi in the year 1857 about the miserable condition of the widows.
  • Another Marathi novel Muktamala was written by Moreshwar Halbe in the year 1861 which was an imaginary romance.
  • The leading Indian novelilsts of the 19th century wrote for a cause like the colonial rule, rational unity and cultural equality. The translated versions of these novels into the different regional languages made them popular.

The Novel in South India

  • An attempt was made by O.Chandu Menon to translate the English novel Henrietta Temple into Malayalam but did not become popular as the readers were not familiar with the lifestyle of the characters of the English novels.
  • He gave up the idea of translating the English novels because of two reasons – first, the readers were not familiar with the lifestyle of the English characters and second, the direct translation of the English novels would be ultimately boring.
  • In the year 1889, the first modern Malayalam novel Indulekha was written and published by Menon.
  • Kandukuri Viresalingam also translated the English novel Vicar of Wakefield written by Oliver Goldsmith into Telegu but faced the same problem faced by Menon.
  • In the year 1878 she also wrote her original Telugu novel Rajasekhara Caritamu.

The Novel in Hindi

  • Bharatendu Harishchandra was the pioneer of the modern Hindi literature in the north India under whose guifance number of novels were translated and adopted from English and Bengali langauges.
  • Srinival Das of Delhi was the one who wrote the first proper modern novel in India and was published in the year 1882 titled Pariksha Guru.
  • The novel cautioned the young men of the good families about the influence of the bad company and loose morals, revealed the inner and outer world of the newly emerging middle class, difficulty of adapting the colonial society, preserving the Indian culture, right way to live, become worldly-wise, living with dignity and honour and be rooted in the traditional culture and tradition.
  • Though the novel Pariksha Guru was written with good intention, it could not get popularity among many readers because it was flooded with moral values.
  • Chandrakanta was written by Devika Nandan Khatri based on romance and fantasy. It made the Hindi language and the Nagari Script popular and created a novel reading public in Hindi.
  • The novel Sewasadna was published by Premchand in the year 1916 dealing with the misery condition of the women, child marriage and dowry in the Indian society. His novels took the Hindi novel to excellency. He wrote novels in both Urdu and Hindi.

Novels in Bengali

  • There were two groups of the early Bengali novels. One was based on the past events and the other on the contemporary world domestic life.
  • Durgeshnandini was the first novel of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay in the year 1865. This novel was known for its turns and twist and its language.

Novels in the Colonial World

  • Vernacular novels were the source of information about the Indian society and customs which helped the British to govern the country.
  • For Indians, novels became a medium to criticize and suggest measures for the society.
  • Novels also helped in building a relation with the past by glorifying the past.
  • The Indian novels shared a common which created a sense of collective belonging and it also made the readers aware about the languages spoken in other parts of the country.

The Problem of Being Modern

  • The Indian novels created heroes and heroines successfully dealing with the dilemma of accepting the western ideas without losing their own tradition and culture.
  • In the novel Indulekha by Chandu Menon, Indulekha was a beautiful lady with great talent and abilities with command over English and Sanskrit and the Hero Madhavan was from English educated calss Nayar family, a first class Saskrit scholar dressed up in western style but had hair style according to the Nayar custom.

Pleasure of Reading

  • The new culture of print like the picture books, translated novels, popular songs and stories made the novels a new source of amusement and entertainment.
  • The novels also developed the culture of silent reading at home or while travelling which was like day dreaming. These novels were also read for the public.

Women and the Novel

  • The novels always took away the readers in the imaginary world from their real surrounding. The women and the children were vulnerable to this and were advised to stay away from the immoral influence of the novels.
  • The novels were kept secretly in the lofts to keep it out of reach from the children and also was read by the youngsters in secret.
  • The grand children read out the novels for the older women in the families who could not read.
  • Women also started writing poems, essays, autobiographies, short stories and novels which popularized the concept of womanhood.
  • Sultan’s Dream was a satiric fantasy written in English by Rokeya Hossein in the year 1905. This novel showed the topsy-turvy world of women replacing men.
  • Padmarag was another novel written by Rokeya Hossein explained that the need of reform through their own actions to improve their condition in the society.
  • Novel writings by the women in many cases were treated suspicious by men and were written either secretly or with the support of their husbands.
  • For example, Karuna o Phulmonir Biharan was written by a Christian missionary named Hannah Mullens in the year 1852 and the other novelist named Ghosh Jaya could write just because of the support of her husband.

Caste Practices, ‘Lower-castes’ and Minorities

  • The novels like Indulekha wrote about the inter caste marriage of Nambuthiri Brahmins, the upper caste Hindus  who were the major landlords in Kerala with the Nayars, the tenants of Nambuthiri Brahmins.
  • There is a demand of new marriage and property laws for the changing society.
  • The upper caste members wrote the novels Indulekha and Indirabai with the upper caste characters.
  • Indulekha rejected the marriage offer by Suri Nambuthiri, a foolish landlord and married Madhavan from a Nayar family.
  • Saraswativijayam was written by Potheri Kunkambu a lower caste writer from the north Kerala in the year 1892. This novel stresses on the issue of unthouchability and importance of education.
  • Titash Ekti Nadir Naam is an epic novel written by Advita Malla Burman in the year 1956. The author belonged to a low caste fisherfolk community along the river Titash.
  • This novel explained the life of Mallas, their festivals, songs, relationships with each other and the injustice by the upper caste people.
  • The whole Malla community vanished as the river Titash dries up.
  • Vaikkom Muhammad Basheer was a famous early Muslim novel writer in Malayalam. He wrote short novels and stories using ordinary langauge with superb humour about the everyday life of the Muslim families.

The Nation and its History

  • India was depicted by the British historians as weak, divided and dependent on the British which was not convincing to the educated Indians.
  • The historical novels in Bengal produced a sense fo Pan-Indian belonging full of adventure, heroism, romance and sacrifice.
  • Anguriya Binimoy  was the first historical novel written in Bengal in the year 1857 by Bhudeb Mukhopadhyay which depicted the heroic image of Shivaji against Aurangzeb.
  • Another novel that inspired the freedom fighters was Anandmath written by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay in the year 1882 which depicted the secret Hindu militia fight against the Muslims.

The Novel and Nation Making

  • The novels of Premchand characterized different classes of the society like the peasants, landless labourers, landlords, professionals, women etc. which was a society drawn the democratic values.
  • In the novel Rangbhoomi written by Premchang, the main character Surdas was a visually impaired beggar from the untouchable caste.
  • Another novel Godan written by Premchand published in the year 1936 was an epic of the Indian peasantry.