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Pleasures of Reading

The novel became a popular medium of entertainment among the middle class in India . The printed books allowed people to amuse themselves in new ways. Picture books, translations from other languages, popular songs sometimes composed on contemporary events, stories in newspapers and magazines – all these offered new forms of entertainment.

Soon novels became immensely popular.

Detective and mystery novels were printed again and again to meet the demand of readers. Novels also assisted in the spread of silent reading in contrast to the ‘listening culture’ of the earlier times. Individuals sitting at home or travelling in trains enjoyed reading novels in silence.

Women and the Novel :-
The effect of novels on the reader worried many people. The imaginary world of the novel was alarming and many felt that there may be an adverse effect on the public. People, especially women and children were advised to stay away from the influence of novels. Novels were seen as easily corruptible. Still no one could contain the popularity of the novel. Women and children read them in secrecy, if they were prohibited from reading them openly.


This passion for reading novels was not limited only to the youth. Older women who could not read listened with fascination to popular Tamil novels read out to them by their grandchildren.

Soon women began to write novels. In some languages, the early creations of women were poems, essays or autobiographical pieces. Women in south India also began writing novels and short stories. A reason for the popularity of novels among women was that it allowed for a new conception of womanhood. Some women authors also wrote about women who changed the world of both men and women

  • Rokeya Hossein’s Sultana’s Dream is a fantasy about women taking the place of men.
  • Rokeya Hossein’s Padmarag talks about the need for women to reform their condition by their own actions.
  • Women novelist did not have an easy time though. The men were suspicious of them and they had to write in secrecy. Some could write only if their men folk protected them.

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