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Literature as Mirror of 20th Century Social Flux: With Special Reference to Indian English Fiction

Proceedings of Research Papers Presented At The National Research Seminar In English On “Widening Canvas Of Literature” Held On 03rd And 04th December, 2015

Dr. Subrato Guha

Vaishnav College, Indore

             Like a faithful mirror since the dawn of human civilization – literature has always mirrored the socio-economic and cultural realities of every nation in every millennia. Alongside Greek literature, Roman literature, literature in Indian vernacular languages –  this is the factual position in the context of Indian English fiction too – since its origin around the latter half of the nineteenth century. The modern Indian English novelist has made the discovery of an individual voice – a voice that is no longer bent upon imitation of British literary models, nor apologetic about literary creations in an alien language – English. Born under the Indian Sun and in the Indian milieu- Indian English is used like a native lingua franca by educated Indians in the post – independence era in general, and in the era of globalization in particular – wherein we all hold dual citizenship – citizens of our own nation , besides being citizens of the global village. Critic Nilufer Bharucha aptly remarks : “Indian English displays a sense of social consciousness, is concerned with Indian socio-political realities, and is authentically Indian… It is now literature of self-definition and assimilation into the Indian ethos.”1 No wonder, Indian English literature faithfully mirrors almost all key modern socio-economic realities, such as (i) the diasporic experience, e.g. Anita Desia’s Bye Bye Blackbird (ii)  Nostalgia for the British era, e.g. Gita Mehta’s Raj and Nina Sibal’s Yatra. (iii) Feminism and the assertive new woman eg. Mulk Raj Anand’s The Old Woman and the Cow and Namita Gokhale’s Paro. (iv) Socio-political upheavals e.g. Anita Desai’s Clear Light of the Day (v) Emphasis upon regional or sub-cultural identity e.g. Pratap Sharma’s The Days of the Turban. (vi) Turbulent phase of Indian Partition e.g. Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. (vii) Linguistic and psychic conflict e.g. Anita Desai’s In custody. (viii) Minority psyche and consciousness e.g. Rohinton Mistry’s Tales from Firozsha Bag and Anita Desai’s Baumgartner’s Bombay (ix) Social marginalization of the handicapped,e.g. Firdaus Kanga’s Trying to Grow. (x) Silent suffering of womenfolk in a male-dominated society e.g. Shashi Deshpande’s That Long Silence (xi) Deep sense of alienation, isolation and loneliness e.g. Bharati Mukherjee’s The Tiger’s Daughter and Jasmine.

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Literature as Mirror of 20th Century Social Flux: With Special Reference to Indian English Fiction

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