NCERT Class 10 History Chapter 8: Novels, Society and History YouTube Lecture Handouts

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  • Print (mechanical invention) created new forms of literature

  • Ancient times – handwritten manuscripts – available to few

  • With print – novels became popular with large scale circulation

  • Big towns connected to small towns by print and communication – formed common interests among people

  • Novel – took roots in England and France (started in 17th century but flowered in 18th century) – readers included lower middle class, traditional aristocratic and gentlemanly class

  • Market for books expanded and authors earned – freed them from financial dependence on aristocrats

  • Henry Fielding, a novelist of the early 18th century, claimed he was ‘the founder of a new province of writing’ where he could make his own laws.

  • Novels created flexibility in writing forms

  • Walter Scott – collected popular Scottish ballads which he used in his historical novels about the wars between Scottish clans.

  • Epistolary novel (series of letters) used the private and personal form of letters to tell its story.

  • Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, in 18th century - story of exchange of letters between two lovers. These letters tell the reader of the hidden conflicts in the heroine’s mind.

Publishing Market

Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones – 6 volumes at 3 shillings each – more than what laborer earned in a week

1740 –started circulating libraries

In France, publishers found that they could make super profits by hiring out novels by the hour. The novel was one of the first mass-produced items to be sold

Why novels were popular?

  • Novels were absorbing, believable and real

  • Could transport you to another person’s world of thought

  • Looked at life as it was experienced by characters of novel

  • Pleasure and joy of reading and discussing stories

  • Rural areas – people collected and one would hear them aloud

Charles Dickens’s Pickwick Papers serialized in magazine (cheap, attractive with illustrations and lived for weeks)

Charles Dickens’s first publication was a collection of journalistic essays entitled Sketches by ‘Boz’

Tolstoy – wrote on rural life and community

World of Novels

  • Focused on lives of great people but also the common man

  • 19th century – industrialization in Europe – factories, profits, city expansion, unemployment

Community & Society

  • Mainly the readers were in cities – novels created connection with rural communities

  • 19th century - British novelist Thomas Hardy – wrote about vanishing traditional rural communities in England - large farmers fenced off land, bought machines and employed laborers to produce for the market

New Woman

  • 18th century – involvement of women – more leisure to read and write & explored world of women (emotional identities, problems and experiences)

  • Women were allowed to speak with authority, their experience, wrote about family life, and earned public recognition

  • George Eliot (1819-1880) was the pen-name of Mary Ann Evans - very popular novelist, she believed that novels gave women a special opportunity to express themselves freely. Believed that in fiction, women can equal men and there are no educational restrictions

Colonialism and After

  • When Europe was colonizing the world, novels developed – made colonialist feel that they were part of the superior community & help explore identities and problems

  • 20th century - Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) wrote novels that showed the darker side of colonial occupation

Novels in India

  • 7th century - Banabhatta’s Kadambari in Sanskrit

  • Panchtantra – prose tales of adventure and heroism in Persian and Urdu – known as dastan

  • 19th century – modern forms of novels developed – mostly in Bengali and Marathi

  • Minor 19th century English novelists like Reynolds, F. Marion Crawford and Marie Corelli were hugely popular in colonial India

  • Most novelists wrote for a cause

  • Bharatendu Harishchandra – pioneer of Hindi Literature encouraged writers and creators to translate novels from other languages

  • Colonial rulers regarded contemporary culture of India as inferior & Indian novelists wrote to develop modern literature that could produce sense of national belongingness & cultural equality

  • The first novels in Assam were written by missionaries. Two of them were translations of Bengali including Phulmoni and Karuna. In 1888, Assamese students in Kolkata formed the Asamya Bhasar Unnatisadhan that brought out a journal called Jonaki. This journal opened up the opportunities for new authors to develop novel.

Bengali novels dealt with

  • Past, their characters, events and love stories based on historical events.

  • Inner world of domestic life in contemporary settings

Domestic novels frequently dealt with the social problems and romantic relationships between men and women

Use of Novels

  • Colonial administrators found ‘vernacular’ novels a valuable source of information on native life and customs

  • Expressed dressing, religious worship, beliefs and practices

  • Criticize defects in the society and suggest remedies for the same

  • Helps to establish relation with the past

  • Created collective belonging based on one’s language

  • The way characters spoke in a novel began to indicate their region, class or caste

  • Viresalingam used novel mainly to propagate their ideas about society among a wider readership.

  • The most popular historical novelist in Tamil was R. Krishnamurthy who wrote under the penname ‘Kalki’. He was an active participant in the freedom movement and the editor of the widely read Tamil magazines Anandavikatan and Kalki

  • Under colonial rule, many of the English-educated class found new Western ways of living and thinking attractive. But they also feared that a wholesale adoption of Western values would destroy their traditional ways of living. Characters like Indulekha and Madhavan showed readers how Indian and foreign lifestyles could be brought together in an ideal combination.

  • Kathanjali, Kannada magazine started publication in 1929 and published short stories regularly.

Pleasure of Reading

  • Popular entertainment among middle class – amuse them, picture books, translations and magazines

  • Early 20th century – flood of novels in Tamil (detective and mystery novels) – some were reprinted 22 times

  • Novels assisted in spread of silent reading

  • Reading alone in silence was preferred

  • Even in crowded space – novels offered world of imagination and daydreaming

  • Older women – some of whom could not read – listened with fascinated attention to popular Tamil novels read out to them by their grandchildren – a nice reversal of the familiar grandma’s tales!

  • Women soon began to write novels and short stories – allowed new conception in womanhood

  • In 20th century, Sailabala Ghosh Jaya, a popular novelist, could only write because her husband protected her.

  • Novels like Indirabai and Indulekha were written by members of upper castes, and were primarily about upper-caste characters

Nation and Its History

Bengal novels were about Rajputs and Marathas and led to pan-Indian belonging – nation to be full of adventure, romance, heroism and sacrifice

Table of Author, Novel and Date
Table of Author, Novel And Date

Author

Novel

Date

Emile Zola

Germinal

1885

Life of a young miner in France explores in harsh detail grim conditions of miners’ lives. It ends on a note of despair: strike the hero leads fails, his co-workers turn against him, and hopes are shattered.

Hardy

Mayor of Casterbridge

1886

About Michael Henchard, a successful grain merchant, who becomes the mayor of the farming town of Casterbridge. He is an independent-minded man who follows his own style in conducting business. He can also be both unpredictably generous and cruel with his employees. Consequently, he is no match for his manager and rival Donald Farfrae (runs his business on efficient managerial lines, is smooth and even-tempered). We can see that Hardy mourns the loss of the more personalized world that is disappearing, even as he is aware of its problems and the advantages of the new order.

Novels used vernacular (language of common man) – created shared world within diverse population – combined classical language with language of streets.

R.L. Stevenson

Treasure Island

1883

Rudyard Kipling

Jungle Book

1894

Powerful, assertive, independent and daring – full of adventure - heroic and honorable

G.A. Henty

Drake’s Flag

1883

Historical adventure novels for boys -excitement and adventure of conquering strange lands. They were set in Mexico, Alexandria, Siberia and many other countries. About young boys who witness grand historical events, get involved in some military action and show what they called ‘English’ courage.

Two young Elizabethan adventurers face their apparently approaching death, but still remember to assert their Englishness

Helen Hunt Jackson

Ramona

1884

Sarah Chauncey Woolsey (pen name Susan Coolidge)

What Katy Did

1872

Love stories in USA

Daniel Defoe

Robinson Crusoe

1719

The hero is an adventurer and slave trader. Shipwrecked on an island, Crusoe treats colored people not as human beings equal to him, but as inferior creatures. He rescues a ‘native’ and makes him his slave and gives him the name “Friday” – this was unacceptable behavior as most writers saw colonialism as natural

Baba Padmanji

Yamuna Paryatan

1857

The earliest novel in Marathi was which used a simple style of storytelling to speak about the plight of widows.

Lakshman Moreshwar Halbe

Muktamala

1861

It was not a realistic novel; it presented an imaginary ‘romance’ narrative with a moral purpose.

Naro Sadashiv Risbud

Manjughosha

1868

Used a highly ornamental style in his Marathi novel filled with amazing events

O. Chandu Menon

Indulekha

1889

A subjudge from Malabar, tried to translate English novel called Henrietta Temple written by Benjamin Disraeli into Malayalam – but people in Kerala found their clothes, speaking etc. as boring. He wrote a story in Malayalam in the ‘manner of English novel books’. This delightful novel called Indulekha, was the first modern novel in Malayalam.

Kandukuri Viresalingam(1848-1919)

Rajasekhara Caritamu

1878

From Andhra Pradesh began translating Oliver Goldsmith’s Vicar of Wakefield into Telugu. He abandoned this plan for similar reasons and instead wrote an original Telugu novel called Rajasekhara Caritamu in 1878.

Srinivas Das

Pariksha-Guru (Master Examiner)

1882

First proper modern novel was written by Srinivas Das of Delhi. His novel cautioned young men of well-to-do families against the dangerous influences of bad company and consequent loose morals – reflect inner and outer world of emerging middle class – adopt colonized society and preserve cultural identity

Teach right way to live – take new agricultural technology, modernize trading practice, change use of Indian languages & transmit Western Sciences and Indian wisdom – all this must be achieved without sacrificing the traditional values of the middle-class household

Devaki Nandan Khatri

Chandrakanta

A romance with dazzling elements of fantasy – is believed to have contributed immensely in popularizing the Hindi language & Nagari script among the educated classes of those times.

Premchand

Sewasadan (The Abode of Service)

1916

Premchand started in Urdu and then in Hindi – in art of kissa-goi (story-telling). His novel lifted the Hindi novel from the realm of fantasy, moralizing and simple entertainment to a serious reflection on the lives of ordinary people and social issues – dealt with poor conditions of women in society, child marriage and dowry

Rajanikanta Bardoloi

Manomati

1900

He wrote the first major historical novel in Assam. It is set in the Burmese invasion, stories of which the author had probably heard from old soldiers who had fought in the 1819 campaign. It is a tale of two lovers belonging to two hostile families who are separated by the war and finally reunited.

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay

Durgeshnandini

1865

He would host a jatra in the courtyard where members of the family would be gathered. In Bankim’s room, however, a group of literary friends would collect to read, discuss and judge literary works. Bankim read out Durgeshnandini, his first novel, to such a gathering of people who were stunned to realize that the Bengali novel had achieved excellence so quickly.

Prose style in novels, initially it was colloquial style and used meyeli (language associated with women’s speech) – the style was replaced by Bankim’s prose which was Sanskritized.

By 20th century, power of telling stories in simple language made Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay (1876-1938) the most popular novelist in Bengal and probably in the rest of India.

Rokeya Hossein (1880-1932)

Sultana’s Dream

1905

Was a reformer who, after she was widowed, started a girl’s school in Calcutta. She wrote a satiric (criticism of society in witty manner) fantasy in English which shows a topsy-turvy world in which women take the place of men. Her novel Padmarag also showed the need for women to reform their condition by their own actions

Gulavadi Venkata Rao

Indirabai

1899

The heroine is given away in marriage at a very young age to an elderly man. Her husband dies soon after, and she is forced to lead the life of a widow. In spite of opposition from her family and society, Indirabai succeeds in continuing her education

Central dilemma faced by colonial subjects - how to be modern without rejecting tradition, how to accept ideas coming from the West without losing one’s identity

Chandu Menon

Indulekh

A love story. Nambuthiri, the foolish landlord who comes to marry Indulekha, is the focus of much satire in the novel. The intelligent heroine rejects him and chooses Madhavan, the educated and handsome Nayar as her husband, and the young couple move to Madras, where Madhavan joins the civil service.

Concerned the marriage practices of upper-caste Hindus in Kerala, especially the Nambuthiri Brahmins and the Nayars. Nambuthiris were also major landlords in Kerala at that time; and a large section of the Nayars were their tenants. Young generation of Nayars occupied property and wealth and argued against Nambuthiri alliances with Nayar women.

Chandu Menon portrayed Indulekha as a woman of breathtaking beauty, high intellectual abilities, artistic talent, and with an education in English and Sanskrit. Madhavan, the hero of the novel, was also presented in ideal colours. He was a member of the newly English-educated class of Nayars from the University of Madras. He was also a ‘first-rate Sanskrit scholar’. He dressed in Western clothes. But, at the same time, he kept a long tuft of hair, according to the Nayar custom.

Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice

19th century Britain - give us a glimpse of the world of women in genteel rural society – look for good marriages and find wealthy husbands – “single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”

Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre

1847

Dealt with women who broke existing norms

Young Jane is shown as independent and assertive. While girls of her time were expected to be quiet and well behaved, Jane at the age of ten protests against the hypocrisy of her elders with startling bluntness; against her aunt and calls her deceitful

Ramashankar Ray

Saudamani

1877-78

A dramatist, began serializing the first Oriya novel, Saudamani but could not complete it.

Fakir Mohon Senapati (1843-1918)

Chaa Mana Atha Guntha

1902

Orissa produced a major novelist. It translates as six acres and thirty-two decimals of land. It announces a new kind of novel that will deal with the question of land and its possession. It is the story of Ramchandra Mangaraj, a landlord’s manager who cheats his idle and drunken master and then eyes the plot of fertile land owned by Bhagia and Shariya, a childless weaver couple.

Charles Dickens

Hard Times

1854

Against industrialization in his novel describes Coketown, a fictitious industrial town, as a grim place full of machinery, smoking chimneys, rivers polluted purple and buildings that all looked the same. Workers are known as ‘hands’, as if they had no identity other than as operators of machines. Humans were reduced to simple instruments.

Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist

1838

Explained terrible condition of urban life under capitalism - tale of a poor orphan who lived in a world of petty criminals and beggars. Brought up in a cruel workhouse, Oliver was finally adopted by a wealthy man and lived happily ever after

Hannah Mullens

Karuna o Phulmonir Bibaran

1852

A Christian missionary, reputedly the first novel in Bengali, tells her readers that she wrote in secret.

Advaita Malla Burman’s (1914-51)

Titash Ekti Nadir Naam

1956

It is an epic about Mallas, a community of fisherfolk who live off fishing in river Titash. The novel is about three generations of the Mallas, about their recurring tragedies and the story of Ananta, a child born of parents who were tragically separated after their wedding night. He leaves community to get educated in the city – as river dries the community dies.

Potheri Kunjambu

Saraswativijayam

1892

A ‘lower-caste’ writer from north Kerala mounted a strong attack on caste oppression. This novel shows a young man from an ‘untouchable’ caste, leaving his village to escape the cruelty of his Brahmin landlord. He converts to Christianity and gets education. Explains education of upliftment of lower castes.

Vaikkom Muhammad Basheer (1908-94)

Was one of the early Muslim writers to gain wide renown as a novelist in Malayalam. He didn’t had much formal education and most works were based on rich personal experience. He took part in Salt Satyagarha and he wrote short novels and stories. Brought in his writings – poverty, insanity and life in prisons.

Bhudeb Mukhopadhyay (1827-94)

Anguriya Binimoy

1857

Was the first historical novel written in Bengal. Its hero Shivaji engages in many battles against a clever and treacherous Aurangzeb. Man Singh persuades Shivaji to make peace with Aurangzeb. Realizing that Aurangzeb intended to confine him as a house prisoner, Shivaji escapes and returns to battle. What gives him courage and tenacity is his belief that he is a nationalist fighting for the freedom of Hindus.

Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai (1912-99),

Chemmeen (Shrimp)

1956

It is set in fishing community in Kerala, and characters speak a variety of Malayalam used by fisherfolk in the region. The film Chemmeen, directed by Ramu Kariat, was made in 1965.

Bankim

Anandamath

1882

It is a novel about a secret Hindu militia that fights Muslims to establish a Hindu kingdom. It was a novel that inspired many kinds of freedom fighters.

Premchand

Rangbhoomi (The Arena)

It has characters that create a community based on democratic values. Central character, Surdas, is a visually impaired beggar from a so-called ‘untouchable’ caste. The very act of choosing such a person as the ‘hero’ of a novel is significant. It makes the lives of the most oppressed section of society as worthy of literary reflection.

His novels are filled with all kinds of powerful characters drawn from all levels of society. He rejected nostalgic obsession with history. His novels look towards the future without forgetting the importance of the past.

Premchand

Godan (gift of Cow)

1936

It is his best known work. It is an epic of the Indian peasantry. Novel tells the moving story of Hori and his wife Dhania, a peasant couple. Landlords, moneylenders, priests and colonial bureaucrats – all those who hold power in society – form a network of oppression, rob their land and make them into landless laborers. Yet Hori and Dhania retain their dignity to the end.

Rabindranath Tagore

Ghare Baire

1916

It were historical and later based on domestic relationships and focused on women and nationalism. Concerns are featured in his Ghare Baire (1916) translated in 1919 as The Home and the World. The story is about Bimala, wife of Nikhilesh, a liberal landlord who believes that he can save his country by patiently bettering the lives of its poor and marginal sections. But Bimala is attracted to Sandip, her husband’s friend and a firebrand extremist. Sandip is so completely dedicated to throwing out the British that he does not mind if the poor ‘low’ castes suffer and Muslims are made to feel like outsiders. By becoming a part of Sandip’s group, Bimala gets a sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Bimala may be admired by the young males of the group but she cannot influence their decisions. Indeed, she is used by Sandip to acquire funds for the movement. Tagore’s novels make us rethink both man-woman relationships and nationalism.