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The Modern Indian Novel in English (Sculpting Fiction Out of Facts)

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Item Code: NAS257
Author: Reena Mitra
Publisher: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2018
ISBN: 9788126927104
Pages: 258
Other Details 8.50 X 5.50 inch
Weight 410 gm
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Book Description
About the Book

The present work contains an in-depth analytical study of some aspects of considerably recent Indian history in six works of Indian English fiction, viz. Train to Pakistan, The Dark Dancer, Sunlight on a Broken Column, A Bend in the Ganges, Azadi, and Midnight’s Children. These novels, written over a period of a quarter of a century, have been so selected as to afford us an understanding of the most important historical events of our near past from varying perspectives, which were largely determined by each writer's distance from the events and_ his perception of their import.

All the novelists included in this book have chosen Indian history as a co-ordinate in their fictional art. The facts themselves have been repeatedly given to us by novelists as well as historians; it is in the specific orientation given to facts that the distinctive genius of each novelist under study lies. Each writer, making fiction "take off from history’ devises his own "literary aesthetics of truth-telling."

The novels here are all imaginative depictions of crises in recent Indian history but the time span covered by each varies. One event common to all is the partition of the country which each writer has approached from a different angle of vision and given a distinctive treatment. The book will be useful for English literature, particularly Indian English literature, and researchers in these fields.

About the Author

Prof. (Dr.) Reena Mitra, M.Phil., Ph.D. (English), a gold medallist from the University of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, has taught in her alma mater itself and in Christ Church P.G. College, Kanpur, for a total period of over four decades. Her area of interest is literatures in English, and primarily, Indian Writing in English. She has written two internationally acclaimed books as sole author, namely, Indian English Fiction: History as a Mode of Literature and Critical Response to Literatures in English. She has also edited three international anthologies of essays on Salman Rushdie’s Midnight's Children, E.M. Forster's A Passage to India and Sally Morgan’s My Place, respectively, contributing exhaustive introductory chapters to each of these compilations.

Dr. Reena Mitra has numerous research papers published/presented at various national and international conferences and seminars. She also has to her credit quality research projects entitled The Indian English Fiction of Bhabani Bhattacharya, Khushwant Singh's ‘Train to Pakistan’ and Manohar Malgonkar's ‘A Bend in the Ganges’: A Comparative Study and Minority Fiction: An Ingress into the Parsi Sensibility. She is, at present, Professor of English at Amity University, Uttar Pradesh (Lucknow).


Every text has a context; and if, as John Donne perceived, no man is an island, then a literary explorer who must chart his own path alone, must do so with the illumination provided by the beaming trail left behind by his predecessors. For such purposeful guidance, one inevitably turns to the living as well as to the dead: to the living for deliberation and resolution of issues and to the dead—whose views are preserved in archives—for elucidation and enlightenment.

The partition of India remains one of the most inconceivable human tragedies of the twentieth century—a tragedy that has left behind indelible imprints of a traumatic experience still raw in the mind. The slightest provocation results in the wounds bleeding afresh. The agonizing reverberations refuse to be silenced. Not even time, the ultimate healer, has been able to assuage the disquiet and misery stirred up by that fateful encounter with destiny. A resurrection of the trauma of the partition and all its concomitant tribulations and woes suffered by the people of undivided India seems to be a persisting drift in Indian English fiction. Can the rationale behind this deluge of novels on the partition till very recent times ever be explained convincingly? Is it, with every dip, a cathartic exercise, or is it a compulsive expulsion of the irrepressible phantoms of the past? Or is it just a clearing of complexes making importunate demands on the individual’s psyche? Or, yet again, is it the writer’s manifest urge to identify with the historical past as experiential reality that percolates down to us through the narrative?

What makes the novels selected here consanguineous and amenable to analogous interpretation is the contemporary indisputable stance that history has made, marking inroads into the territory of the hitherto pure, unadulterated fiction written. So, with history today "more novelistic than the novel" and the novel far more historical in matter and purport than ever before, the parameters of the novel as a literary genre have attained a degree of flexibility that affords the writer considerable liberty to transform facts or even ignore them as long as the final depiction of history conforms to the general tenor and spirit of the times and captures the zeitgeist.

In view of the relative dearth of material relevant to this analytical exercise, in private hands or in the market, I was privileged to have received constant help in the form of books as well as material from journals from the American Studies Research Centre, Hyderabad; the British Council Library, New Delhi; the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Simla; the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi; and various other libraries in the country. I am also highly indebted to Dr. G.S. Balarama Gupta, the editor of The Journal of Indian Writing in English, for his prompt response in sending me issues of the journals containing articles very pertinent to my work.

I owe an express word of gratitude to my husband, Ashish and my children, Kriti and Adishesh, who have always stood by me in all my academic ventures.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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