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The Novel Comes to India

Written stories were in existence in India in the 17th century itself.

  • Banabhatta’s Kadambari, written in Sanskrit .
  • The Panchatantra Dastan - prose tales of adventure and heroism in Persian and Urdu

These earlier works cannot be considered as novels.


The Panchatantra Tales :-

The modern novel form developed in India only in the nineteenth century.The development of the vernaculars, print and a reading public helped this process.

Some of the earliest Indian novels were written in Bengali and Marathi.

  • Baba Padmanji’s Yamuna Paryatan (1857),
  • Lakshman Moreshwar Halbe’s Muktamala (1861).
  • These early novels were simple and mostly about the plight of widows. Some of them presented an imaginary ‘romance’ narrative with a moral purpose. Leading novelists of the nineteenth century wrote for a cause. Colonial rulers regarded the contemporary culture of India as inferior. Indian novelists tried to produce a sense of national belonging and cultural equality with their colonial masters, through their writings.

    Translations of novels into different regional languages helped to spread the popularity of the novel and stimulated the growth of the novel in new areas.

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