Life is literature, and literature is life. Without literature, life is meaningless. Literature is an expression of life, and one cares to study it chiefly because of its profound and enduring human significance. This presupposes that any writing devoid of deep and lasting human interest cannot be considered literature; in the real sense, the word “Literature” enables one to have a very close and fresh relation with life.
Life without literature would be colourless, and literature without life values would be meaningless. People have reached a stage where literature has to justify its existence only by the social commitment it reflects. Every essay writer in Canada is a member of society, so his works would reveal the conditions of his contemporary scene: “The essay writers Canada is not only influenced by society: he influences it (Wellek 102).
Novel means something new. The novel became a new genre in Literature. The earliest written composition was poetry. They came to Drama. When a narrative Canadian essay writer provides writing in prose was attempted, a name had to be given to that product. The name, the novel came in handy. The English novel is more than 300 years old. The novel in English has evolved through various stages. The first novel was purely didactic. Its purpose was religious propaganda.
The second stage of the English novel to which the works of Oliver Oliver were not for religious propaganda but were not irreligious either. Religion was very much in the background. Religion was an integral part of the common person’s life. In these novels, religion was an important component of the average British life.
The next stage in the English novel is when social life in English underwent a sea change, especially after the Industrial Revolution. The ethos of the Englishman has undergone a tremendous change.
Religion was not an essential ingredient of the social fabric. The novels of Hardy and George Eliot belonged to this place. Religious beliefs were very much doubted, though not questioned. The church was no longer the pivotal point of English life.
Darwin’s Theory of Evolution questioned the very existence of God. The man became more and more pessimistic, agnostic, and atheistic. The last phase was the evolution of the English novel when religion was anathema. The IOth century novel, as the 20th century Drama, portrays the existential anger of the modern man, especially after the two world wars. Lord of the Flies and Waiting for Godot are examples of this modern trend. God, if there was one, is dead. Such is the evolution of the English novel.
Indian Literature in English is now accepted as an integral part of New Writing in English, and It is taught as such in many countries around the world. Nobody denies the fact that India has contributed significantly to overall world literature. This contribution of India has been chiefly through Indians writing in English, novelists being at the forefront in this respect.
Many novelists on the contemporary scene have given expression to Indian fiction in English as a distinctive force in world fiction. To attempt creative expression on a national scale in an alien medium speaks of the profound quality of the Indian essay writers. They confront a complex dilemma of the modern world.
It is an irony that the growth and complexity of Indian Literature in English as a whole, and the novel, in particular, is not fully appreciated in India or abroad. The focus remains on the precursors of this literature, such as Rabindranath Tagore, Tom Dutt, Mulk Raj Anand, Raja Rao, whose intimate and intricate scenes of the home country have led many successors to adopt their methods and diversity and later to explore new pastures.
Among the present writers of the novel in English and essay writers Vancouver, the foremost are Kamala Markandaya, Anita Desai, Manohar Malgonkar, Bhabani Bhattacharya, Khushwnat Singh, Nayantara Saga, Shashi Deshpande, Bharati Mukherjee, Anita Nair, Kiran Desai, and numerous others. One of Vancouver’s reputed essay writers and paper writers of Indian fiction, R.K. Narayan, is best known for his use of the English language with Indian sensibilities.
Most of his characters are typically Indian, rooted in age-old local traditions. “Malgudi, the fictional setting on Narayan’s novels and stories, is an imaginary South Indian town. He has written about the town of Malgudi in ten novels and hundred and fifty-one short stories” (Gokak 199). This makes him a regional novelist along with Thomas Hardy of England and Faulkner of the United States.
While R.K Narayan was born and bred in the South, Mulk Raj Anand was born in Peshawar and spent the formative years in Punjab. Therefore, he portrays Pimjabi characters and Punjabi life with great minuteness and realism. Anand’s realism is also seen in his portrayal of all aspects of a lie, even the ugly and the unseemly ones. He does not eliminate the ugly aspects of human nature from his pictures of life. Anand is a humanist, a proletariat, or Marxist humanist.
Raja Rao, the third foremost Indian novelist writing in English of the post-Independence era, possessed the gift of creating living characters to the highest degree. His characters are not mere symbols. They are creatures of flesh and blood, compounds of weakness and virtues. Raja Rao is a great son of Mother India, and his greatness has received national and international recognition.
He won the Sahitya Academy Award for his The Serpent and the Rope, which has been called the best Indian-Anglican novel ever written. His first novel, kanthapura, attempts an appraisal of the efforts made by Indians under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi to attain freedom. His next novel, The Serpent and the Rope, has been termed as a spiritual autobiography. It is distinguished for its typically Indian form. He presents what he encountered in the world and the various experiences his mind undergoes. The Indian novel in English has developed by leaps and bounds from its most primitive stages to more advanced and interesting realms.
Many essay writers have contributed generously to the fruitful development of this genre, and new issues and themes have been undertaken for the study. The genre lends to new approaches, and the most modem development in the west is reflected in the Indian novels in English.
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From Mulk Raj Anand to Manohar Malgonkar, from Kamala Markandaya to Anita Desai, one discovers in them an ever-growing awareness of reality. “Their portrayals speak for the philosophy and technique they represent” (Awasthi 95). Most of them have concentrated on socio-cultural backgrounds, but Anita Desai was the first to explore Indian sensibility. “Her preoccupation is with the inner world of sensibility rather than the outer world of action” (Iyengar 464). Contemporary women novelist Shashi Desh Pande moves further and touches on the subtle psychological complexities of the individual mind.
The major Indian novelists follow their own patterns. R.K Narayanan writes novels wherein religion is not openly mentioned. His novels are not irreligious. Mulk Raj Anand’s novels are all about social problems. Religion has no place or relevance there. Raja Rao has a deep and abiding faith in the fundamentals of religious belief. He grapples with man’s fundamental passion, delineates situations, and portrays the character on a vast canvas.
In recent times, a great body of historical fiction has emerged on the literary scene. Many Indian-English novelists have turned to the past to trace the deepening mood of Indian nationalism as to cherish the memories of the bygone days. A close study of the contemporary novel reveals essay writers’ preoccupation with our historical past and the unabated interest of the readers in the novels that depict the past or that treat some event of national importance that has had wide repercussions.
The Indian novelists in English, like their counterparts in Indian languages, responded to these happenings with a sense of great sensitivity. Some novels were written on the theme of partition, the destruction it brought, and the plight of the refugees. Khushwant Singh is one of the most significant authors in contemporary Indian literature in English who wrote on the theme of Partition.
Indian and western traditions helped shape the mind of Khushwant Singh. Though deeply rooted in his own culture, he was moulded by the Western education in India and England. He himself has said that he is the product of both the East and the West. His writings reveal a happy blending of scientific relationships and liberal humanism.
Interestingly, Khushwant Singh did not become a full-time essay writer by choice. The decision to write came to him only when he found something compelling to write about. At the time of partition, he was greatly moved by the harrowing events during those turbulent days. His outlook on life underwent a drastic change. He few thoroughly disillusioned with the then-contemporary situation. Khushwant Singh was a witness to the holocaust that followed the wake of the partition of the country.
It was indeed one of the bloodiest upheavals of history that claimed innumerable innocent lives and a loss of property. The traumatic experience made Khushwant Singh restive, and to give vent his feelings, he took to writing, and hence he came up with the novel Train to Pakistan.
Khushwant Singh is the most contented fore-runner of the Punjab creative writing. In Punjabi, creative writing under a thickly crusted moral and ethical cover smoulders and robust and vigorous preoccupation with sex. The artist’s preoccupation with the body and blood is one of the most significant aspects of Punjabi literature. It is reflected in romantic folk songs and also in the rustic’s everyday speech and idiom.
Although respectability-ridden, morally smug, vociferously virtuous middle-class essay writers decry these tendencies or try to ignore them altogether, they continue to contribute to the spirit of the time and dominate a sizeable quantum of creative writing in Punjabi today.
Even Amrita Pritam, one of the most distinguished poets of modern Punjabi literature, whose writings are marked by romantic idealism, uninhibitedly deals with the themes of extramarital love, violent infatuating, intense physical passion, and sexual violence. Batavia’s poetry illustrates the modem Punjabi literature’s dominant preoccupation with love and sex.
Shiv Kumar Batlavi’s Akademi-Award-winning poem, Loona presents several sexual images; for instance, he compares a woman’s body to a water jug. Batavia’s poetry is a protest against the smug superficiality of the establishment. Kartar Singh Duggal is another distinguished, rather rebellious and challenging, novelist, who deals with violence as a primary facet of human experience. His novels are peopled with abnormal characters. Neurotic women, perverted priests, perverse teachers, and agonizing homosexuals.
His novels Nail and Flesh (1969), which are set against the violent political events of 1947, movingly portrays the tragedy of the partition and its disastrous effect on the peaceful pastoral life in Punjab. Other novelists in Punjabi literature, such as Jaswant Singh Kanwal, Santok Singh Dhir, Gurudial Singh, and Kulwant Sing, deal elaborately with rapes, riots, abductions murders, physical violence, and other aspects bearing on the fiery passions of rural Punjab. Obscenity is another interesting and rather puzzling factor of this particular kind of creative writing in Punjabi literature.
Morally hyper sensitive custodians of social conduct have seriously objected to blatant exhibitionism in Punjabi fiction. These upholders of moral rigour, aided by like-minded bureaucrats, engage in a furious witch-hunt of authors and artists for even a possible remote implied reference to sex. To them, sometimes such simple words as legs and breasts have ominous context and meaning.
Khuswant Singh too forms part of this healthy, virile, realistic tradition of creative writing in Punjabi and Urdu, and the essential spirit of that writing seems to have inspired him. In an Evening with Authors Program in Bombay (Monday, December 1, 1969), he is said to have discounted all surface criticism of obscenity that he uses four-lettered words in his writings, he declared with his characteristics humour, Punjabi creative writing, as well as Indo-Anglican writing, has influenced Khushwant Singh as essay writer of fiction.
It is advantageous to note the background of the novel in India in general and Indian writing in English and Punjabi literature in particular. The novel as a form of art is the outcome of the impact of Western literature on Indian writings and sensibility. The flair for exaggeration, characteristics of ancient Indian classical literature, was fatal to the novel, which has been rooted in a realistic tradition; realistic portrayal aims at a reportorial account of the experiences of individuals, whereas the Indian tradition of the epic thrives on epic similes, ornamental language, conceit, and hyperbole.
Though Indian epics contain many realistic elements, on the whole, their effect worked in a direction opposed to what one understands by Hereray naturalism, so effectively expressed in the late nineteenth-century French and English novel.
Khushwant Singh is one of the most significant authors in the field of the contemporary Indian English novel. He was born in 1915 at Hadali in West Punjab, now in Pakistan. He attended St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, and King’s College, London. For a while, he worked as a professor of Hindu Law at the Lahore Law College, where he trained people to become inspectors, Layers, and Judges. Then he felt a sudden urge to throw away his law books and the Partition helped him do it with ease.
In 1947, Khushwant Singh was appointed information Officer of the Government of India. Stints at various embassies, including the one in London, marked by a tempestuous and contemptuous relationship with the volatile Krishna Menon, saw him also writing his first novel, Train to Pakistan, which became a best seller. Both Indian and Western traditions shaped his mind. Though deeply rooted in the soil and his own culture.
He was moulded by Western education. Khushwant Singh’s life is indeed coloured by several factors, the most important of these being his having been associated with the world of journalism. His first journalistic assignment has a series of articles in 1965 for the New York Times. Later, he became a full-time journalist as Editor of The Illustrated Weekly of India. Apart from this weekly, he has successfully pioneered at least three major publications in India, Yojna, New Delhi, and the Hindustan Times.
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The first breakthrough in Khushwant Singh’s literary career came in 1950 when he published his remarkable collection. The Mark of Vishnu and Other stories. Almost all the stories were based on real experiences or those related to his colleagues and friends. During his years in London and Ottawa, several of his stories appeared in English, Canadian and American magazines.
These stories at once reveal Khushwant Singh’s extraordinary craftsmanship and his mastery in fusing theme and plot. Khushwant Singh attracted attention as a short story essay writer with The Mark of Vishnu and Other Stories, which has reappeared at different times as The Voice of God and A Black Jasmine. His other collection, A Bride for the Sahib, has gone into a new second edition.
In the short stories, Khushwant Singh is a conscious satirist attracted not to character but to type. He has no use for a situation or a plot in itself, for its human, coming, or tragic potential. He cares for it only in so far as it helps him illustrate the type to bring our satire. Satire has little place for atmosphere except to parody it.
Hence Khushwant Singh pays little attention to the atmosphere in his short stories. His satire’s objects are the bureaucracy that rigs elections, the superstitious or hypocritical man of religion, the westernized Indian, the excessive solemnity of international conferences, and other such matters.
One of the notable short stories, The Mark of Vishnu, has an ironic meaning. It emerges from the two levels of meaning of the title. The “V” mark becomes a symbol of both protection and destruction. Here, authorial objectivity is the hallmark of his craftsmanship. Khushwant Singh pronounces no judgment on this episode. He simply presents the problem and juxtaposes the opposites, namely, superstition and reason, pagan faith in animal deities, and the sheer aggressive beastliness of the animal world.
Khushwant Singh is a skilled craftsman in unmasking the central character in society. In the process, he is satirical or lively and lighthearted. His art of satirical portrayal is seen in Mr Kanjoos and the great Miracle. The work Kanjoos and the Hindi equivalent of the master is of unscrupulous, premeditated, and well-planned miserliness. They are figures of thin and also object of Khushwant Singh’s ridicule and satire.
The predominant quality of Khushwant Singh as a short story essay writer is his comic spirit. This spirit evolves spontaneously because he observes the bewildering phenomena of contradictions in life and the gulf that divides appearance from reality. One can find uniqueness in Khushwant Singh’s journalistic writings. Khushwant Singh has done well at provoking Indian readers to shake their hypocrisy, double standards, and prudery. Khushwant Singh’s literary skill makes his pieces immensely readable. His piece on Manzur Qadir pays rich tribute to Pakistan’s former Foreign Minister.
He (Manzur Qadir) never said a hurtful word about anyone. And integrity, which surpassed belief He made upward of Rs. 50,000 a month; income-tax authorities were constantly refunding tax authorities he had paid in excess. It was commonly said, “God may lie, but not Manzur Qadir. “ Though Godless, he had more goodness in him than a clutch of saints… He was the human touchstone of our moral pretensions.”.(Mehta 14)
Khushwant Singh’s views on prostitution, prohibition, kissing in films, and other controversial topics like a modern progressive and cultivated mind. But, here, Khushwant Singh’s characteristic punch that he suspects many eloquent people against prostitutes do so because it allowed them to indulge in talks about sex and yet maintain a high moral image.
Hostile critics of Khushwant Singh say that Khushwant Singh has never been taken seriously as a political journalist. They argue that his understanding of the complex political issues and cross-currents is so simplistic. Despite all that, Khushwant Singh is widely read and talked about. This could be so because of the style and candour, his being the champion of communal amity, or his being sensational and provocative. Above all, his writings are often marked by the honesty of purpose and carry the stamp of conviction. And his personality, as reflected through his writings, brings out a certain amount of warmth and simplicity.
However, with the publication of his first novel, Train to Pakistan (1956), critics declared the arrival of Khushwant Singh on the contemporary literary scene. Train to Pakistan, first entitled Mono Majra, brought Khushwant Singh recognition and wide acclaim. This novel won him the Grove Press India Fiction Prize for the year 1956.
Khushwant Singh was a witness to the holocaust that followed in the wake of the country’s partition. It was indeed one of the bloodiest upheavals of history that claimed innumerable innocent lives and great loss of property. Khushwant Singh himself commits that the novel was born out of a sense of guilt that he had done nothing to save the lives of his innocent people and behaved like a coward.
I Shall not hear the Nightingale though reflecting the political upsurge of the early forties, does not consider some important events that dominated the country that period. Khushwant Singh does not take cognizance of the Quit India Movement of 1942, as Bhabani Bhattacharya does in so many hungers!
Though the Quit India Movement was a clarion call made by the Congress demanding the withdrawal of the British rule from India, Khushwant Singh does not record the great historic upheaval in this novel. But as an artist, he had full liberty to choose events and persons that suit his artistic purpose.
This Dissertation attempts to explore the treatment of Realism in Khushwant Singh’s most popular novels, Train to Pakistan, I shall not Hear the Nightingale, Delhi, The company of women and Burial at Sea. Train to Pakistan happens during the 1947 Indo-Pakistan partition, and I shall not hear the Nightingale. The novel revolves around the Pre-Independence period.
Delhi attempts to study how Khushwant Singh, as a post-colonial essay writer just like essay writer Canada questions the very notion of history and attempts to project, present, and reconstruct a history of 500 years of the city of Delhi, The Company of Women is the story of Mohan Kumar and his sexual expeditions. Burial at Sea is modelled on the life and achievement of Nehru in the guise of Victor Jai Bhagwan Singh.
Mano Majra, a tiny village in Punjab, serves as the fictional setting for Train to Pakistan. It is situated on the India-Pakistan border, half a mile away from the river Sutlej. Though the frontier between India and Pakistan has become a scene of rioting and bloodshed, life in Mano Majra remains peaceful. The village is portrayed as the epitome of India; it has Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus living in harmony and amity.
Life in this sleepy little village of Mano Majra is regulated by trains, which rattle across the river’s railway bridge. The Mano Majrans are ignorant of Indian politics and their leaders. This idyllic tranquillity suddenly receives a jolt when on an August night, a gan of dacoits murders Ram Lai, the village moneylender. Jugga Singh, “the tallest man in the area” (TP33) and a notorious character, is suspected of murder and is arrested.
At that time, Juggust Singh, popularly known as Jugga, is out in the fields with his beloved Nooran, the daughter of the old Imam of the village mosque. Juggut Singh served several terms in Jail and, as a confirmed “budmash” (TP76), has been asked not to leave his house after sunset. As it is, he cannot explain the cause of his absence when Ram Lai’s murder took place.
Simultaneously, the police arrest Iqbal, a Western-educated youth sent by the communist party of India to preach Hindu-Muslim unity and brotherhood among the people. He is a social worker. Being a stranger in the village, he is suspected to be a Muslim leader and is remanded to police custody. Iqbal is a city dweller and an embodiment of western culture and education. He has strong faith in the ideas of the proletarian revolution.
The situation at Mano Mjara takes a turn for the worse; a commotion is caused by the arrival of a ghost train from Pakistan loaded with hideously butchered corpses of Sikhs and Hindus. This instantly inflames the communal frenzy of the Mano Majrans. As the nightmarish madness takes over them, there follows senseless killing, looting, burning, raping either in provocation or in retaliation.
Hukum Chand, the Magistrate, and the Deputy Commissioner of the districts are actually conscious of the calamity situation. He is, however, lascivious and is engaged in a sordid affair with Haseena, a teenaged prostitute. He is a practical, worldly man of easy morals. He is highly sensual, his primary motivation being hedonistic. A group of young Sikh fanatics comes from outside to incite the Mano Majrans to avenge Muslims for what they have done to Hindus in Pakistan.
The hot-blooded contrive a scheme to annihilate Muslims collectively. They plan to fire at the train carrying refugees to Pakistan, due to leave Chundunnuger after midnight. They decide to stretch a rope across the first span of the bridge. It would be a foot above the height of the funnel of the engine. When the train passes under it, it will sweep off the people sitting on the roof of the train. People with swords and spears would be right at the bridge to deal with those that fall off the roof of the train.
Hukum Chand orders the release of Jugga and Iqbal, who had been wrongly implicated and arrested. They, he thinks, might exert some influence on the misguided youth and save hundreds of Muslims from being butchered. After securing his freedom, Jugga finds Mano Majra changed.
He finds that all Muslims have quit the village from the refugee camp. Jugga’s immediate concern is the fate of Nooran, his sweetheart. When Jugga learns of the conspiracy and comes to know that the train to be attacked is carrying his sweetheart Nooran, he resolves to do something to avert the catastrophe. He plans to prevent the attack at the cost of his own life.
As all wait for the train, Jugga climbs the steel span of the bridge. Others notice him only when he has got to the top where the rope is tied. They think that he is testing the knot. Jugga whips out a small kirpan (knife) from his waist and starts slashing at the rope. Other Sikhs, who have been awaiting the cutting of many people into two like a knife slicing cucumbers, spot him in the darkness and fire shots at him.
Jugga heroically clings to the rope with his hands and cuts it to pieces. The engine is almost on him. He drops down dead, and the train goes over him and on to Pakistan. Thus Jugga redeems himself by saving the precious lives of thousands of Muslims in a heart throbbing, suspenseful climax. The tragic love story of a Sikh boy and a Muslim girl interwove n with a catastrophic event seeks to bridge the wide gulf of communal hatred.
Jugga’s love is indeed a positive and dynamic force in the novel. The love affair between the burly Sikh Jugga and the pretty Muslim girl cuts across religious barriers. Khushwant Singh depicts the emotional ties between the two.
Khushwant Singh’s second novel. I shall not hear the Nightingale, published in 1959, again has a historical backdrop. The action of the novel takes place during the war years, from April 1942 to April 1943. IN terms of Indian History, it is about five years before the country’s attainment of demand revolves around the Quit India movement.
Though the novel’s background is occupied by political situations, Buta Singh and his family occupy the foreground of the novel. Butta Singh, Sher Singh, Wazir Chand, Madan Lai, and Mr Taylor are the male characters, and Sabhrai, champak, Beena, Sita, and Shunno are the female characters in the novel.
Though the novel provides less scope for the art of characterization, Khushwant Singh has developed Sabhrai’s character fully. Here is the only multidimensional character, and the rest of the female characters are only occasionally mentioned according to the requirements of the plot.
In this novel, Khushwant Singh explores the conflicts and tensions that arise in the family of Butta Singh, and He is a magistrate in the court of the British Commissioner. Mr Taylor has a very God-fearing wife named, Sabhrai. The following lines best portray her character. “Sabhrai was possessed of that sixth sense which often goes with people of deep religious conviction” (ISHN 141). This couple has a son, Sher Singh, and a daughter, Beena.
Shun and Mundoo are servants in their house. Sher Singh has a friend named Madan Lai, who is a well-known cricketer. Beena and Sita are friends and classmates. Similarly, the elder Buta Singh shares the same office with Wazir Chand, the father of Madan Lai and Sita, Champak, the wife of Sher Singh, is portrayed to be very licentious and tempestuous woman in the house of the Buta Singh and Sabhrai. She is portrayed as a contrasting character to Sabhrai.
Dyer is the Alsatian dog that these people won. This dog is very friendly with Sher Singh and goes hunting with Sher Singh right in the first chapter and is with him at the time of his arrest for anti-governmental activity.
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