Literature dates back to at least the 7th century
and may be divided into three main periods: ancient, medieval,
and modern. The different periods may be dated as follows:
ancient period from 650-1200, medieval period from 1200-1800,
and the modern period from 1800 to the present. The medieval
period may again be divided into three periods: early medieval-also
known as the period of transition- from 1200-1350; high medieval
from 1350-1700, including the pre-Chaitanya period from 1350-1500
and the Chaitanya period from 1500-1700; and late medieval
from 1700-1800. The modern period begins in 1800 and can
again be divided into six phases: the era of prose from 1800-1860,
the era of development from 1860-1900, the phase of rabindranath
tagore (1861-1941) from 1890-1930, the post-Rabindranath
phase from 1930 to 1947, the post-partition phase from 1947
to 1970, and the Bangladesh phase from 1971 to the present.
period The conquest of Bengal by the Mauryas in the 3rd
century BC led to the spread of Aryan languages in the Bengal
delta. The bangla language, however, developed from prakrit,
through apabhrangsha and abahattha and outside the direct influence
of Aryan languages. The earliest extant specimens of ancient
Bangla are the 47 spiritual hymns now known as charyapada composed
by Buddhist monks. Because the language of these hymns is only
partly understood, it is called sandhya or twilight language.
The Charyapada hymns possess both linguistic and literary value.
The Siddhacharya, or composers of the Charyapada hymns, include
Luipa, Bhusukupa, kahnapa and Shavarpa.
medieval: Period of transition (1201-1350) The anecdotes,
rhymes and sayings of dak and khana may be dated to this period.
The Apabhramsa of the Charyapada became more Bangla in character.
Among the specimens of this period is Ramai Pandit's narrative
poem shunyapurana (13th-14th century). Another example of early
Bangla is a collection of lyrical poems in Apabhramsa entitled
Prakrtapaingala. A Bangla song has also been found in Halayudh
Mishra's sanskrit book shekhashubhodaya (c 1203).
medieval: Pre-Chaitanya period (1350-1500) During this
period, Bangla literature developed in three main areas: vaisnava
literature, Mangala literature and translation literature.
This period also saw the beginning of Muslim Bangla literature
in the form of romantic and narrative poems.
greatest of Vaishnava writers was the poet Baru Chandidas (14th
century) who rendered jaydev's Sanskrit lyrics about radha and
krishna into Bangla. The names of several poets who went by the
name of chandidas have been found in the Middle Ages: Adi Chandidas,
Kavi Chandidas, Dvija Chandidas and Dina Chandidas. The confusion
about whether there were one or several poets called Chandidas
is known in Bangla literature as the 'Chandidas riddle'. Chandidas
has been credited with over a thousand lyrics. The introduction
to srikrishnakirtan edited by Basantaranjan Ray Vidvadvallabh
and published in 1916 by vangiya sahitya parishad mentions the
name of Baru Chandidas. He was perhaps the original Chandidas
who composed verses in 1350.
patronage provided by the Muslim rulers, particularly Sultan
Alauddin Hussein Shah, his son Nasrat Shah and commander-in-chief,
paragal khan, in promoting Bangla literature is specially noteworthy.
The 45-year rule of the Hussein Shah dynasty (1493-1538) in Bengal
not only led to political, social and cultural prosperity, but
also nurtured bangla language and literature. It was during the
rule of Hussein Shah that some Bengali poets began composing
lyrics in brajabuli. It was also during his rule that Kanka wrote
Vidyasundar Kahini in praise of satya pir (c 1502).
or lyrical literature Padavali and other medieval lyrics were
based on the story of Radha and Krishna and were written by innumerable
poets, Hindu and Muslim, including some women poets. Among the
padavali poets were Chandidas, jnanadas, Lochandas, govindadas,
Rayshekhar, Shashishekhar, Balaram Das, Narottam Das, Narahari
Das and Radhamohan Thakur.
literature Maladhar Basu composed Srikrsnavijay, a free translation
of the Sanskrit Shrimadbhagavata. The poem is also known as Govindamangal
or Govindavijay and is believed to be the earliest translation
work in Bangla. Several poets translated the Sanskrit Bhagavata,
Ramayana and Mahabharata into Bangla during this period. krittivas
ojha (15th century) was the first to translate the Ramayana into
Bangla. He was followed by several other poets. In the 17th century,
chandravati, daughter of dwija bansidas, the composer of Manasamangal,
wrote Ramayanagatha. The first Bangla version of the Mahabharata
was possibly Kavindra Parameshwar's Mahabharata or Kavindra Mahabharata
(1525). Sanjay and Shrikar Nandi also wrote versions of the Mahabharata.
Popularly, the most important Bangla Mahabharata was, however,
composed by kashiram das around 1602-10. It is probable, however,
that other poets also contributed towards the final version that
was printed at Serampore Press in 1801-3. Because of its refined
language and feelings of devotion, this version became more popular
than other Bangla versions.
The oldest of the extant mangalkavyas is Manasamangal, by vijay
gupta, composed perhaps in 1494-95. According to the bhanita,
or signature piece, Vijay Gupta was a resident of the village
of Fullasri in barisal. Vijay Gupta's contemporary, bipradas
pipilai, also wrote a poem on manasa titled Manasavijay (c 1494).
Another version of Manasamangal is Narayan Dev's Padmapurana.
These narrative lyrics describe the greatness of the gods and
goddesses, but also provide vivid pictures of a land oppressed
on the one hand by kings and on the other by floods, famines,
epidemics, snakes, and tigers. Another important genre of mangalkavya
is Chandimangal. Its first composer, Manik Datta, perhaps belonged
to the pre-Chaitanya era. He was followed by the poet Madhavacharya
towards the end of the 16th century. Two other famous poets of
Chandimangal were mukundaram chakravarti and Dvija Madhav.
Bangla literature The poems written by Muslims during the Middle
Ages can be divided into 6 groups: narrative poems (based on
Muslim and Indian stories), religious poems, poems on cultural
links, dirges, poems on astrology and poems on musicology. The
greatest contribution of the Muslims to Bangla literature during
this period was, however, the introduction of narrative and romantic
poems, many of them being free translations or adaptations of
arabic or persian romances.
Muhammad Sagir (c 1400) was one of the earliest of the Bengali
Muslim poets. Though his romance yusuf-zulekha contains no signature
piece identifying him, he is generally regarded as being from
East Bengal as copies of his poems have been found in the Chittagong-Comilla-Tripura
region. Other epic poets include Jainuddin, Muzammil, Sheikh
Faizullah, Daulat Uzir Bahram Khan. Jainuddin became famous with
Rasulbijay, his only epic. Muzammil became famous mainly for
his three poetic works: Nitishastravarta, Sayatnama and Khanjancharita.
Saifulmuluk Badiuzzamal (mid-16th century) is written in simple
language and reveals the influence of Prakrit. Sheikh Faizullah
occupies an important place among the Muslim poets of the medieval
period with Goraksavijay, Gazivijay, Satyapir (1575), Zainaber
Chautisha and Ragnama. Goraksavijay, which is based on Kavindra's
poem, is in two parts. Part one describes how Gorakhnath rescued
his guru, Minanath, while part two describes the ascetic life
of King Gopichandra. Zainaber Chautisa narrates the sad story
of Karbala in the form of Zainab's lament. Daulat Uzir Bahram
Khan's only extant work, laily-majnu, evidently composed between
1560 and 1575, is a thematic translation of the Persian poet
Muslim poets were influenced by vaisnavism, among them Chand
Kazi (15th century), and Afzal Ali (17th century). Chand Kazi
was the Kazi of Nabadwip under Sultan Hussein Shah (1493-1519)
when Vaishnavism spread to Nabadwip. Afzal Ali's Nasihatnama
is composed in the Vaishnava style.
medieval Muslim poets include syed sultan (c 1550-1648, nabi
bangsha, Shab-i-Miraj, Rasulbijay, Ofat-i-Rasul, Jaykum Rajar
Ladai, Iblisnama, Jnanachautisha, Jnanapradip, marfati gan, padavali),
Sheikh Paran (c 1550-1615, nurnama, Nasihatnama), Haji Muhammad
(c 1550-1620, Nur Jamal, Suratnama), Nasrullah Khan (c 1560-1625,
janganama, Musar Sawwal, Shariatnama, Hidayitul Islam), Muhammad
Khan (c 1580-1650, Satya-Kali-Vivad-Sangbad, Hanifar Ladai, Maktul
Husein), Syed Martuza (c 1590-1662, Yog-Kalandar, padavali),
Sheikh Muttalib (c 1595-1660, Kifayitul-Musallin), Mir Muhammad
Shafi (c 1559-1630, Nurnama, Nurkandil, Sayatnama), abdul hakim
(c 1620-1690, Lalmati-Sayfulmulk, Nurnama). Poets who composed
between 1600 and 1757 include nawajis khan, Qamar Ali, Mangal
(Chand), Abdul Nabi, Muhammad Fasih, Fakir Garibullah, Muhammad
Yakub, Sheikh Mansur, Muhammad Uzir Ali, Sheikh Sadi and Heyat
Mamud. Syed Sultan's Nabibamsa, Muhammad Khan's Maktul Husein
and sheikh chand's Rasulbijay are known as Islamic Puranas.
era (1500-1700) sri chaitanya not only introduced the Gaudiya
school of Vaishavism in Bengal, but also inspired a powerful
group of writers to write biographies about him, among them
Govindadas Karmakar's Govindadaser Kadacha, Jayananda's chaitanyamangal
(end of the 16th century), Brndabandas' Chaitanyabhagavat (1573),
Lochandas' (1523-1589) Chaitanyamangal and krishnadasa kaviraja's
chaitanya charitamrita (1615). Several other biographies were
also written about Chaitanyadev's followers including Narahari
Chakravarti's Bhaktiratnakar (biographies of Chaitanya followers)
Nityananda Das' Premavilas (biographies of Shrinivas, Narottam
and Shyamananda) and Ishan Nagar's Advaitaprakash (1568-69).
Chaitanyacharitamrta is considered to be the best biography
of Chaitanyadev. This scholarly book contains his life story,
his philosophy and devotion, all expressed in simple language.
Jayananda's Chaitanyamangal contains many interesting facts
of the period, for example, how the Hindus were learning Persian
and wearing Muslim outfits.
literature in Arakan Towards the end of the Middle Ages, there
was considerable cultivation of Bangla literature in the independent
and semi-independent states on the borders of Bengal. Arakan
became a tributary state of Gaud in 1430. For the subsequent
200 years the rulers of Arakan patronised Bangla language and
literature. Among those who wrote poetry in Bangla under the
patronage of the Arakan court was daulat qazi (about 1600-1638)
whose Satimayna O Lorchandrani was the first Bangla romance.
Daulat Qazi was unable to complete the poem which was later completed
by alaol (c 1607-1680). Apart from padmavati, believed to be
his finest poem, Alaol also wrote Saifulmulk Badiuzzamal, a Bangla
rendering of a Persian narrative about the romance of prince
Saifulmulk and the fairy princess Badiuzzamal. Arakan's other
poets include Maradan (about 1600-1645) who wrote Nasirnama,
and quraishi magan thakur who wrote Chandravati, a fairy-tale
Medieval period (1700-1800) The close of the medieval period
was in many ways a period of decline. The decline of the Mughal
Empire, the inroads of the European trading powers and the
establishment of the British halted the natural flow of literary
creation. However, the tradition of Vaishnava literature, mangalkavya,
and translation work continued. There was a great deal of influence
of both the Hindu Puranas and Islamic thoughts. The main literary
productions of the period include padavali and mangalkavya.
Padavali writers in the 18th century include Narahari Chakravarti,
Natavar Das, Dinabandhu Das, Chandrashekhar-Shashishekhar and
Jagadananda. Their poems were, however, more full of ornamentation
Versions of Chandimangal continued to be composed, an important
version being that by Ramchandra Yati written 1766-67. Interest
also grew in Dharmamangal, with several poets, including Ghanaram
Chakravarti, Narasingha Basu, Manikram Ganguli, Ramkanta Ray
and Sahadev Chakravarti, writing different versions. Mangalkavyas
also started being composed about new deities, for example, Suryamangal,
Gangamangal, Shitalamangal, Laksmimangal, Sasthimangal and Sarasvatimangal.
Special mention may be made of Durgadas Mukherjee's Gabgabhaktitarabgini.
perhaps the greatest poet of the 18th century, wrote Nagastak
and Gangastak in Sanskrit and, in Bangla, satyanarayaner panchali,
Rasamanjari as well as Annadamangal. Annadamangal contains eight
episodes and three parts: Shivayan-Annadamangal, Vidyasundar-Kalikamangal
and Mansingha-Annapurnamangal. The character of Annada links
the different parts although the main story is how Bhavananda's
fortunes were transformed through Annada's blessings. Bharatchandra
had originally planned to write an epic on the model of Kavikankan's
Shrishrichandimangal, but, bowing to the taste of the 18th century
and the desire of Raja krishnachandra roy, he turned it into
the story of Vidyasundar. As a result, Bharatchandra's poem is
a mangalkavya only in form. Although the poet was himself inclined
towards Vaishnavism, he presented the deities as fun-loving human
beings. Annadamangal influenced later poets in many ways; the
poets of Kalikamangal copied it extensively.
and others In the artificial atmosphere of an age of decline,
ramprasad sen (1721-1781) was an exception because of his sincere
devotionalism and simplicity of language. Although he was reputed
for his Shaktapadavali, he also wrote Vidyasundarkahini and Krsnakirtan.
In the songs of Ramprasad the fierce Kali turned into a kindly
mother. Some other poets of this genre were Radhakanta Mishra
(perhaps the first poet of Kolkata), Kavindra Chakravarti and
Nidhiram Acharya of chittagong.
An important part of 18th century literature was oral literature,
the main theme of which was love. Because this literature was
unwritten it kept on changing, right up to the 19th century.
In much folklore the main role is played by a woman. The most
important folkore collections are maimansingha gitika by Dinesh
Chandra Sen and Purbabanga-Gitika by Chandrakumar De.
period (1800- ) The modern period of Bangla literature
is usually dated from the foundation of fort william college
in 1800. The distinguishing features of Bangla literature of
this period were: (a) the rise and development of powerful
prose literature; (b) the influence of Sanskrit scholars on
prose during the first half of the 19th century; (c) the influence
of western literature; (d) the diversification of subjects;
(e) the rise of periodical literature; (f) the elevation of
colloquial language to the status of a literary language; (g)
the development of new poetic genres. The writers of this period
were inspired by the ideal of creating a universal, eternal
and independent literature. There was also at this time a growing
awareness that literature greatly influenced national life
and that it was the finest measure of national character.
modern period may be divided into six phases. In the first phase
(1800-1850), the era of prose, Christian missionaries and Sanskrit
scholars ushered in modernism through their prose writing. In
the second phase, the era of development (1850-1900), Bengali
writers, influenced by the west, created novels and poems that
have stood the test of time. The third phase, the era of Rabindranath
Tagore (1890-1930), was dominated by the poet, and, although
shorter, was prolific. The very short fourth phase, the post-Rabindranath
Tagore phase (1930-1947), from the era of Rabindranath Tagore
to the partition of India, is regarded as a separate phase outside
the Tagore influence. The fifth phase, the post-partition phase
(1947-1970), saw the political division of Bengal and the bifurcation
of Bangla literature into the literature of West Bengal and the
literature of East Bengal/East Pakistan. The six and latest phase
is the Bangladesh phase.
period: The era of prose (1800-1860) Bangla prose writing
developed in the 18th century mainly for adminstrative and
proselytising purposes. The first Bangla books were those by
Christian missionaries. dom antonio's Brahmin-Roman-Catholic-Sangbad,
for example, was the first Bangla book to be printed towards
the end of the 17th century. The foreign rulers also felt the
need to learn Bangla, leading to the compilation of dictionaries
and the writing of books of grammar. The Portuguese missionary
Manoel da Assumpcam's bilingual dictionary, Vocabolario em
idioma Bengalla, e Portuguez dividido em duas partes, was printed
in Roman script from Lisbon in 1743. nathaniel brassey halhed
wrote the first Bangla grammar, A Grammar of Bengal Language
(1776), to help the English learn Bangla. The book was printed
in 1778 from Hughli Press, and bangla script was used in its
examples and quotations. For administrative purposes law books
in Bangla were needed. This is why a number of law books were
translated and published at this time. Forster became well
known particularly for his cornwallis code (1793) and Shabdakos
(1799). Although these are not original works, they give an
idea of the nature of Bangla prose in the 18th century.
carey (1761-1834) came to Bengal for missionary work but
became famous as the pioneer of Bangla prose. In 1800 he published
Mathi Rachita Mangal Samachar, a Bangla translation of the
bible, from serampore mission. He later joined Fort William
College and devoted himself to writing textbooks. Fort William
College had been established in Kolkata in May 1800 to prepare
English civil servants for their administrative duties. One
of their subjects was the local language. However, the absence
of proper Bangla texts posed considerable difficulties. A team
of Bangla scholars led by Carey accordingly began writing textbooks
in Bangla. This is how a planned form of Bangla language developed.
Other scholars who helped the development of Bangla prose were
ramram basu, Golaknath Sharma, mrityunjay vidyalankar, tarini
charan mitra, rajib lochon mukhopadhyay, Chandicharan Munshi
and Haraprasad Roy.
Although Fort William College helped develop Bangla prose through
the preparation of Bangla textbooks, later textbooks were written
at the initiative of calcutta school-book society (established
1817). Some of its main writers were ram comul sen (1783-1844),
radhakanta deb (1783-1867), and Tarinicharan Mitra (1772-1837).
Most of their books were didactic. Other textbooks were written
by teachers of serampore college, including Felix Carey (1786-1822),
John Clark Marshman, and John Mack. Some Bangla writers of the
time such as krishna mohan banerji (1813-1885) also wrote textbooks.
these textbooks were concerned with subject matter rather than
with the literary quality of writing, they form a valuable addition
to Bangla prose writing. By constructing a language that could
communicate modern ideas to Bengali readers, they helped develop
Bangla prose, often by acquiring words and terms from other languages.
Rammohan Roy (1772/4-1833) also contributed to the further development
of Bangla prose. Some of his well-known books are translations:
Vedanta Grantha (1815), Vedantasar (1815), Kenopanisad (1816)
and Ishopanisad (1816). His original books include Bhattacharyer
Sahit Vichar (1817), Gosvamir Sahit Vichar (1817), Sahamaran
Virodhi Pustika, Sahamaran Visay (1828), gaudiya vyakaran (1833)
etc. The main themes of these books are religious and didactic.
of Rammohan's attempts at reform were opposed by people such
as Mrityunjay Vidyalankar, Radhakanta Deb, Ramkamal Sen, Kashinath
Tarkapanchanan, bhabanicharan bandyopadhyay (1787-1848), and
primarily the Christian missionaries of Serampore. Rammohan's
supporters included Ramchandra Vidyavagish, Prince dwarkanath
tagore (1794-1846), Prasannakumar Thakur, Tarachand Chakravarti
(1806-1857), Chandrashekhar Dev, Gourikanta Bhattacharya, Gouramohan
Vidyalankar, and Rev. Krishna Mohan Banerji. The propaganda war
between Rammohan's supporters and opponents generated writings,
later nicknamed 'Dvairath Dvandva' or combat between two charioteers,
which fed the periodical journals and the newspapers, at the
time the most important medium of Bangla prose.
development of Bangla periodicals and newspapers The appearance
of Bangla periodicals and newspapers in the second decade of
the 19th century helped create and develop Bangla prose. The
missionaries of Serampore published the first Bangla journal,
Masik Digdarshan (April 1818). Other well-known regular and irregular
periodicals published between 1818 and 1831 include Samachardarpan
(1818), edited by John Clark marshman; Sambad Kaumudi (1821),
edited by Tarachand Dutta and Bhabanicharan Bandyopadhyay; Samachar
Chandrika (1822), by Bhabanicharan Bandyopadhyay; and Bangadut
(1829) by Neelmoni Halder. An important role was also played
by the mouthpiece of the brahma samaj, tattvabodhini patrika,
which appeared in 1843 and which was edited by akshay kumar datta
for 12 years. Other who contributed to it were iswar chandra
vidyasagar (1820-1891), debendranath tagore (1817-1905), rajnarayan
basu (1826-1899), dwijendranath tagore (1840-1926). The journal
significantly furthered the literary efforts of Bengalis.
rise of the Bangla novel peary chand mitra (1814-1883) and kali
prasanna singh (1840-1870) were the first Bangla novelists. Peary
Chand Mitra was a fine essayist, writing on a variety of varied
subjects. However, he also wrote the first Bangla novel, alaler
gharer dulal (1858). Using the pen name of 'Tekchand Thakur',
he used chalita bhasa or colloquial language to narrate his story
of Bengal society. His language, the common people's language
with its mixture of Arabic, Persian and Hindustani vocabulary,
was fondly called 'alali prose'.
Prasanna Singh brought Bangla even closer to people by using
the colloquial language of Kolkata and its surrounding areas
in his writings. The language used by him in his novel hutom
pyanchar naksha (1862), depicting the social life of Kolkata,
was more refined than that used by Peary Chand. His language,
called 'hutomi', considerably influenced Bangla prose during
the next century.
development of sadhu bhasa The principal architect of 19th century
Bangla prose was Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar. Writing textbooks
and articles, Vidyasagar developed a form of sadhu bhasa or formal
prose that influenced future writers.
other writers who contributed to the development of prose was
bhudev mukhopadhyay (1827-94), who wrote on society, education,
history, science, and religion. One of the prominent scholars
of the time, rajendralal mitra (1822-1891), used to write mostly
in English but also contributed in Bangla to the monthly journals
Vividhartha Sanggraha (1851), Rahasyasandarva (1851) and Vividhartha
Sanggraha Sandarva (1863). In 1852 rangalal banerjee (1827-1887)
published the first Bangla book of literary criticism. Rajnarayan
Basu wrote on a variety of subjects in Sekal Ar Ekal (1874),
Hindu College Athaba Presidency College-er Brttanta (1876), Bangala
Bhasa O Sahitya Bisayak Baktrta (1878) and Atmacharita. Ramgati
Nyayaratna (1831-1894) wrote the first detailed history of Bangla
literature (1872, 1873) in Bangala Bhasa O Bangala Sahitya Bisayak
Period: The era of development (1860-1900) (1860-1900) The first
modern Bangla novelist was bankimchandra chattopadhyay whose
fourteen novels include Durgeshnandini, Kapalkundala, Krishnakanter
Will, Bisbrksa and Ananadamath. Drawing upon history as well
as contemporary life, Bankimchandra wrote novels with well-developed
plots and characters that continue to be eminently readable.
He also edited a literary monthy, bangadarshan (1872).
significant writers of the time include Bankimchandra's elder
brother sanjeeb chunder chattopadhyay (1834-1889) who also was
well known for his novels as well as Palamau, an excellent travel
story. Another writer of merit was romesh chundr dutt (1848-1909),
who wrote historical novels. Rabindranath's elder sister swarna
kumari devi (1855-1932) wrote novels as well as poems and plays.
Her social novels reflect the moral conflicts of contemporary
society. She also edited bharati. Trailokyanath Mukhopadhyay
(1847-1919) wrote a wide range of entertaining stories for both
young and old. He wrote four novels and four books of short stories.
Indranath Bandyopadhyay (1849-1922) wrote satirical sketches
and novels. Some other established prose writers of the time
were Pratapchandra Ghosh (1845-1921), Shibnath Shastri, Chandrashekhor
Mukhopadhyay (1849-1911), Haraprasad Shastri (1853-1931), Damodar
Mukhopadhyay, Shrishchandra Majumdar and Nagendranath Gupta (1861-1940).
writing This genre was initiated by Bhudev Mukhopadhyay and reached
its zenith at the hands of Bankimchandra. It was enriched by
Bhudev Mukhopadhyay's thoughtful essays on a variety of subjects.
Some of his works in this genre include Bijnan Rahasya (1875),
Vividha Samalochana (1876) and Krishnacharitra (1886). Other
essayists include Bankim's elder brother Sanjeeb Chunder who
wrote Jatra-Samalochana (1875) and Balyabibaha (1882) and Dwijendranath
Tagore who wrote on linguistics. Other essayists include Troilokyanath
Sanyal (1840-1916), Bandhab (1874), kaliprosanna ghosh (1843-1910),
Chandranath Basu (1844-1910), Ramdas Sen (1845-1887) Shibnath
Shastri, Purnachandra Basu, Chandrashekhor Mukhopadhyay (1849-1922)
and Haraprasad Shastri.
Muslim writers For a considerable period, Bengali Muslim poets
had made no significant contribution to literature. They accepted
neither Company rule nor the modern ways of the British. While
the 'Young Bengalis' were emulating western ways, the Muslims
were agitating against the British.
a change in their political attitude, middle-class Bengali Muslim
writers emerged in the 19th century. Prominent among them were
mir mosharraf hossain (1847-1912), Moulvi Mohammad Naimuddin
(1832-1907), Dad Ali (1852-1936), kaikobad (1857-1951), Sheikh
Abdur Rahim, Reazuddin Ahmad Mashadi, Mozammel Huq, Munshi Muhammad
Reazuddin Ahmad (1862-1933), Moulvi mearajuddin ahmad (1852-1929),
Munshi Muhammad Zamiruddin (1870-1930), abdul hamid khan yusufzai
(1864-1924) and Maulana Mohammad Moniruzzaman Islamabadi (1875-1950).
Mir Mosharraf Hossain wrote nearly 30 books including novels,
plays, satire, poetry, musical plays, and essays. His best known
writing is, however, bisad-sindhu, based on the incidents at
Huq wrote both prose and poetry. His poetry was inspired by the
idea of a Muslim renaissance. However, he excelled in writing
prose, including biographies and novels. He also translated Persian
works into Bangla, including the first part of Shahnama. The
first Bangla biography of Prophet muhammad (Sm) was written by
Sheikh Abdur Rahim. Pandit Reazuddin Ahmad Mashadi wrote Samaj
Sangskarak, which was, however, banned by the government soon
after publication for its revolutionary content.
era of Michael Madhusudan Dutt michael madhusudan dutt (1824-1873)
began writing in English but soon moved to writing in Bangla.
Influenced by his English readings, he used blank verse and the
sonnet form to write his poems. His epic, meghnadbadh kavya (1861),
combines an eastern subject with western techniques and style.
Sometime after writing Meghnadbadh, Madhusudan left for Europe
where he started writing sonnets. These were published in 1866
as' Chaturddashpadi Kavitavali'. He is also credited with having
written the first true tragedy in Bangla.
was followed by hemchandra banerjee (1838-1903) and nabinchandra
sen (1847-1909), who were inspired by nationalism and hinduism.
Hemchandra's epic Brttrasanghar (1875), based on the Mahabharata,
and Nabinchandra's book of poems Palashir Yuddha (1875), reflect
their nationalistic feelings. Kaikobad was a Muslim poet who
wrote mahashmashan in the tradition of Hemchandra and Nabinchandra.
The misery of the Muslims of the time made him sad, prompting
him to write poems on their past glory. The 870-page Mahasmasan
was written on the events of the third Panipat war.
poems The new trend of lyric poetry was manifested in kavigan
and Jatra. tappa (a light classical variety of amorous songs),
especially the songs of nidhu gupta also known as Nidhubabu became
popular during this period. These songs were composed and presented
purely for entertainment and therefore were not intended to be
of high literary value. These were however somewhat refined later
by coposers such as gonjla gaen. Kavigan also became popular
among the urban people. Some famous poets of this period include
bhola moira, anthony firingee, and Thakur Singh.
lyrical poems The setter of this trend, biharilal chakravarty
(1835-1894), became famous for his poetic work Saradamangal (1879).
Biharilal's language was simple and spontaneous. Among other
poets of the time, surendranath majumder (1838-1878) became famous
for his poem Mahila. Other poets included Dineshcharan Basu,
Debendranath Sen, Akshay Kumar Baral (1860-1919), Rajanikanta
Sen (1865-1910), Govindadas (1854-1918), Girindamohini Das (1857-1924),
Kamini Roy (1864-1933), Mankumari Basu, Anandachandra Mitra,
Govindachandra Roy, Barodacharan Mitra and dwijendralal roy.
dramatic literature Madhusudan Dutt established modernism in
Bangla plays as he did in Bangla poetry. He began writing Bangla
plays after noticing the paucity of good plays in Bangla. Madhusudan's
first play, Sharmistha (1859), was based on the Mahabharata story
of Sharmistha-Devayani-Yayati. His second play, Padmavati (1860),
was based on a Greek classical story. In this play he also used
blank verse for the first time.
also wrote two farces, Ekei Ki Bale Sabhyata and Buda Saliker
Ghare Roun (1860), in which he used colloquial language and dialect
as well as English and Persian words. But Madhusudan's best play
was Krishnakumari (1861), which has been described as the first
successful tragedy in Bangla. In writing Krishnakumari, Madhusudan
ignored eastern dramatic rules and used western ones.
was followed by dinabandhu mitra whose Nildarpan (1860) has considerable
historical value as it depicts the merciless exploitation of
Bengali farmers by English indigo traders. The play played a
significant role in ending indigo cultivation. Two other playwrights
who made sigificant contributions were Dwijendra Lal Roy and
girish chandra ghosh (1844-1912).
first Muslim playwright was Golam Husain whose play Hadjvalani
was printed in 1864. It was not a complete play, but rather a
string of scenes. Azimuddi's farce, Kadir Mathay Budor Biye (2nd
edition 1868), was written at about the same time. Mir Mosharraf
Hossain wrote several plays in Bangla, among them Basantakumari
(1873), written on the style of Sanskrit plays, and Zamidar-Darpan
(1873), depicting the oppression of farmers by the landlords.
Muslim writers In the 1860s the English rulers severely suppressed
the faraizi, wahabi and other religious and political movements.
Towards the end of the century, Munshi mohammad meherullah and
his disciple, Munshi Muhammad Zamiruddin, launched a movement
to make Bengali Muslims aware of their Muslim identity through
literary efforts. This movement, known as the 'Sudhakar' movement,
was led by Moulvi Mearajuddin Ahmad, Pandit Reazuddin Ahmad Mashadi,
Munshi Sheikh Abdur Rahim and Munshi Muhammad Reazuddin Ahmad.
They attempted to make Muslims conscious of their Islamic heritage
and glorious past by creating literature in their mother tongue
Bangla. They also translated some books into Bangla. This led
to the creation of a new stream in Bangla literature. Their first
publication was Islam Tattva. Thereafter, Sheikh Abdur Rahim
and Munshi Muhammad Reazuddin Ahmed published a weekly journal
sudhakar (1889). Though Muslim Bengalis had made an effort to
create literature before this movement, there had previously
been no concerted effort of this kind. In fact, it was the Sudhakar
group that laid the foundation for a distinct stream of Muslim
nationalistic literature in Bangla.
dormant talent of Munshi Mohammad Meherullah (1861-1907) flowered
in the wake of severe clashes with christianity. Of his nine
books, Meherul Islam had a puthi-style nat, eulogising Prophet
Muhammad (S). Its language was simple and easy but at the same
time lucid and elegant. Munshi Muhammad Zamiruddin (1870-1930)
converted to christianity and came to be known as Father John
Zamiruddin. But when he was defeated in a religious debate, he
reconverted to islam and as Munshi Zamiruddin engaged in propagating
Islam. Basically he used his pen in the service of Islam and
became quite famous. Sheikh Abdur Rahim (1859-1931) wrote about
the Muslim heritage of Bengali Muslims and described the contribution
of Islam to human civilisation. His first book was about the
life and contribution of the Prophet Muhammad (S): Hazrat Muhammader
Jibancharita O Dharmaniti (1887). He was associated with editing
Sudhakar, Mihir, Hafez, Moslem Pratibha, Moslem Hitaisi etc.
He wrote thoughtful articles in the mohammadi. Maulana Moniruzzaman
Islamabadi was a political activist, social worker, journalist,
litterateur and a good orator. He was more famous for his historical
essays. His best literary work was Bharate Mussalman Sabhyata.
He earned literary fame through his writings in Mihir and Sudhakar.
He later edited and published soltan and Amir.
other Muslim writers of repute were Deen Muhammad Gangopadhyay
(1853-1916), Sheikh Abdul Jabbar (1881-1918), Munshi Abdul Latif
(1870-1936) and kazi akram hossain (1896-1963). Abdul Latif was
a nationalist Congress leader before the partition of India,
but nevertheless he became famous for his literary works in the
service of Islam and the Muslims. Kazi Akram Hossain became famous
for his book Islamer Itihas (1924) but he also made significant
contributions in other fields of literature. mohammad yakub ali
chowdhury (1888-1940) was a rare scholar in the Muslim society
of the time. His Manab Mukut testified to his depth of knowledge
as a philosopher.
period: The Tagore phase (1890-1930) Rabindranath Tagore was
an extraordinary man who made major contributions to all genres
of Bangla literature. He wrote an immense range of rich and varied
forms of poetry, plays, dance dramas, novels, short stories,
essays and over two thousand songs. Although he was known as
'Vishvakavi' (world poet) and won the Nobel Prize for literature
in 1913 for his book of poems Gitanjali, he was also a writer
of superb prose, fictional and non-fictional. The volume and
variety of his writings, his high ideals, his social commitment,
rendered Rabindranath an institution by himself. He dominated
Bangla literature for an entire generation and continued to do
so long after his death.
most popular novelist of this period was sharat chandra chattopadhyay
(1876-1938). His novels depict, with a great deal of lucidity
and sympathy, the daily life of the Bengalis, and, above all,
the life of the Bengali woman. His novels continue to be popular
and have been translated into almost all Indian languages. Many
have been turned into cinemas and stage plays.
writers of the period include pramatha chowdhury (1868-1946),
whose essays and linguistic style greatly influenced a group
of writers. He established the position of colloquial language
in literature and also introduced the format of French short
stories in Bangla literature. probhat kumar mukhopadhyay (1873-1932)
wrote a number of novels but was at his best at the short story,
of which he wrote over a hundred, most of which end with a sudden
twist. abanindranath tagore (1871-1951) was a writer of fine
colloquial Bangla prose as evidenced in his autobiographical
writings and in his description of aesthetics.
other well-known writers of this phase were Jagadishchandra Bose
(1858-1937), Ramendrasundar Trivedi, Naresh Chandra Sengupta,
Upendranath Gangopadhyay, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Monilal
Gangopadhyay, Kedarnath Bandyopadhyay, Khagendranath Mitra, Jagadishchandra
Gupta, jaladhar sen, Sourindramohan Mukhopadhyay, nirupama devi,
prabhavati devi, Sita Devi, Shanta Devi and Hemendrakumar Roy.
poetry in Rabindra era Most of Rabindranath's contemporary poets
were overshadowed by him and remained under his influence for
over half a century. A number of poets were, however, able to
shake off his influence and establish themselves in their own
rights. Among these poets were Satyendranath Dutta (1882-1922),
Mohitlal Majumder (1888-1952), Kazi Nazrul Islam and Jasimuddin
(1902-1976). Satyendranath demonstrated extraordinary ability
in creating new poetic metres, and was accordingly called the
'magician of metres'. He was also a sensitive translator.
Majumder paved the way for modernism. Frankly sexual, his love
poems celebrate physical love. In idiom and structure, however,
his style was classical. Nazrul Islam entered Rabindranath's
calm and tranquil sphere like a meteor, celebrating rebellion
and common humanity in poetry that could be declamatory, fiery,
angry, and lyrical at will. The poem 'Bidrohi', that marked his
extrance into poetry, ensured his place in Bangla literature.
But he was also a composer and song writer, writing ghazals and
love songs, as well as hamd and nat as well as kirtan. Jasimuddin,
called 'Palli Kavi' (rural poet), drew from the tradition of
rural Bengal, writing about the joys and sorrows of rustic life
in rhythms that were based on folk tunes.
other well-known poets of this era were Karunanidhan Bandyopadhyay,
Chitta Ranjan Das, Atulprasad Sen, Kalidas Roy, Kumudranjan Mallik,
Narendra Dev, Pramathanath Roy Chowdhury, Bijay Chandra Majumder,
Mankumari Basu, Jatindramohan Bagchi, Jatindranath Sengupta,
Sabitriprasanna Chattopadhyay, Radharani Devi and Umadevi.
literature Like the other writers of this era, the essayists
too were greatly influenced by Rabindranath. The first of the
prominent essayists of this phase was Pramatha Chowdhury. Through
his journal sabujpatra, he popularised colloquial Bangla prose,
proving through his essays that colloquial language was fit to
express both light and serious thoughts. His use of colloquial
Bangla also convivced Rabindranath to do the same, resulting
in Rabindranath's moving in his later writings from sadhu bhasa
to chalita bhasa. Pramatha Chowdhury was also well known as a
Trivedi was also a fine essayist and was primarily known for
his essays on scientific subjects. However, he also wrote essays
on philology and grammar, society and politics and philosophy.
His philosophical essays reveal a depth of thought and originality
despite the simplicity of their language. Balendranath Tagore
(1870-1899) was an able literary critic. Abanindranath Tagore
was a fine art critic as well as folklorist, writing in Bageshwari
Shilpa Prabandhabali and Banglar Vrata about folk art and rituals.
Some other well-known essayists of the era were Mohitlal Majumder,
Dinesh Chandra Sen, Sureshchandra Samajpati, Panchkari Bandyopadhyay
and shashanka mohan sen.
phase (1930-1947) (1930-1947) The anti-imperialist movement that
began in Bengal following the First World War and the socialist
revolution in Russia also affected Bangla literature. Though
Rabindranath was still writing, around 1930 new writers emerged
along with new interests. In 1923 Kallol, a literary journal,
began publication in Kolkata where these new writers were published.
Shanibarer Chithi also provided them indirect support. Two similar
journals appeared around this time: Kalikalam in Kolkata in 1926
and Pragati in dhaka in 1927. The Kallol writers included Buddhadev
Bose and Achintya Kumar Sengupta.
and short stories of the thirties The appearance of some able
litterateurs at this time helped the development of Bangla fiction
and short stories. These writers depicted the lives of working
people, the problems of human existence, the politics of India,
etc. rajshekhar basu (1880-1960) was the main architect of satirical
short stories in Bangla.
famous writers included Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Tarashankar
Bandyopadhyay (1898-1971), and Manik Bandyopadhyay (1908-1956).
Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay's work is distinguished by descriptions
of the domestic life of rural Bangladesh and its scenic beauty.
He analyses human behaviour even as he describes nature's tranquil
and charming scenes. His best work was pather panchali (1929).
Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay was a powerful writer, writing about
the lives of simple peasants, boatmen and minstrels of rural
Bengal. Expansive and comprehensive, his novels Ganadevata (1942)
and Panchagram (1944) bring rural life alive. His short stories
also focus on the village.
novelist and short story writer, manik bandyopadhyay, was profoundly
influenced by Marxism and by Freudian psychoanalsyis. Putul Nacher
Itikatha (1936) and Padmanadir Majhi (1936) reveal his Marxist
leanings as they do his psycholgical approach. Premendra Mitra
(1904-1988) was an adroit short story writer, using language
skilfully to convey his themes and create characters. His stories
encompass a variety of subjects ranging from struggle for living
to politics and sociology.
other powerful novelists and short story writers of the time
were Jagadish Gupta, bibhutibhushan bandyopadhyay, balaichand
mukhopadhyay (1899-1979), pramathanath bishi (1901-1985), Manoj
Basu (1901-1987), Gopal Haldar (1902- ), achinta kumar sengupta
(1903-1976), Annadashankar Roy (1904- ), Prabodhkumar Sanyal
(1905-1983), Buddhadev Bose, Subodh Ghosh (1909-1980), Gajendrakumar
Mitra (1909- ), Bimal Mitra (1912- ), Narayan Gangopadhyay (1918-1970),
Moti Nandi (1931- ), Shyamal Gangopadhyay (1933-2001), Sunil
Gangopadhyay (1934- ) and Shirsendu Mukhopadhyay (1935- ).
of the thirties The social decay that engulfed Europe after the
First World War also pervaded the minds of Bengali poets via
English literature. Discarding Rabindranath's aesthetic and idealistic
perceptions of beauty, love and pleasure in poetry, they espoused
urban life. The pioneering role in introducing ultra-modernism
in Bangla poetry was played by Achinta Kumar Sengupta, Buddhadev
Bose, Premendra Mitra, jibanananda das (1899-1954), sudhindranath
dutta (1901-1960), bishnu de (1909-1982) and Samar Sen (1916-
). Jibanananda Das was the most powerful poet of this phase.
In poetic expressions he allowed himself to be driven by both
the intellect and the emotions. He was essentially a poet of
nature and drew superb images from the natural world around him.
complexity of modern poetry is reflected in the works of Sudhindranath
Dutta who used complex language and difficult phrases for the
purpose. Among Marxist poets were Bishnu De and Samar Sen. Bishnu
De's poems were distinctive in syntax, in the use of myths and
new prosody. Samar Sen made the urban environment the basic theme
of his poems; but, alongside his Marxist views, his poems also
contained romantic thoughts and the charm of the quiet atmosphere
of the Santal Pargana.
Bose ranked among the first group of poets who attempted to move
away from the influence of Rabindranath. Bose was fully aware
of the features of modern poetry and his love poems are about
the physical desires of the body rather than about romantic love.
Nevertheless, his late poems show that deep in his heart he was
essentially a romantic poet.
poems of Premendra Mitra are inspired by rebelliousness and reflect
his sympathy for oppressed and deprived humanity. While there
is a strain of egoism in his peoms, there is an underlying humanism
that makes his poems appealing. Other poets of this era include
Amiya Chakravarty (1901-1986), sukanta bhattacharya (1926-1947),
Ajit Dutta, Arun Mitra, and Subhash Mukhopadhyay.
literature of the thirties The dramatic literature of the time,
unlike poetry, fiction and short stories, did not show much of
modernism. The trend of Girish Chandra and Dwijendra Lal was
still in vogue. Nevertheless, there were some changes because
of stage modernisation, changing tastes, appearance of educated
amateur artistes, and writing of new kinds of plays. Notable
playwrights of this phase were Jogeshchandra Choudhury (1886-1941),
sachindra nath sengupta (1892-1961), tulsi lahiri (1897-1959),
manmatha roy (1899-1988) and Pramathanath Bishi.
literature of the thirties In this phase, those who were noted
for writing thematic essays included suniti kumar chatterji (1890-1977),
sushil kumar de (1890-1968), Rajshekhar Basu, Niharranjan Roy
(1903-1981) and Sukumar Sen; in literary criticism, prominent
writers were Srikumar Bandyopadhyay (1892-1970), Shashibhusan
Dasgupta (1911-1964) and Pramathanath Bishi; in other areas,
the prominent writers were atul chandra gupta (1884-1961), Annadashankar
Roy and Dhurjatiprasad Mukhopadhyay. Buddhadev Bose, syed muztaba
ali (1904-1974), Humayun Kabir (1906-1969) and abu sayeed ayyub
(1906-1982) were also exceptionally fine essayists.
era (1947-1971) The most important development in the intellectual
history of Muslim Bengal was the establishment in Dhaka of the
muslim sahitya samaj in the thirties. The group's principal source
of inspiration was abul hussain (1896-1938) and its main writer
was kazi abdul wadud (1894-1970). The Samaj's mouthpiece was
shikha which proclaimed the idea of free thought.
those who paved the way for a new stream of literature in the
then East Pakistan and later in independent Bangladesh, mohammad
najibar rahman (1860-1923) deserves particular mention. His novel
Anwara (1912), which depicts the life of an ideal Muslim family,
was read very widely in Muslim homes. ekramuddin ahmad (1872-1940)
was another powerful Muslim writer of the period. Although he
was a critic, novelist and short story writer, he was instrumental
in introducing Rabindranath to Muslim society through his book
Rabindrapratibha (1926).roquiah sakhawat hossain(1880-1932) demonstrated
considerable skill in writing fiction, short stories, essays
and poems, many of them inspired by her ideals of social and
educational reform. Her Abarodhbasini (1928) depicted the plight
of women in a purdah society. In Abdullah (1932) kazi imdadul
huq (1882-1926) revealed the effects of western education on
traditonal Muslim society. shahadat hossain (1893-1953) was a
devoted and unassuming litterateur and poet, mainly remembered
for Rupchhanda (1943). The primary objective of golam mostafa
(1897-1964) was to introduce Islamic ideas in Bangla literature.
Apart from writing poetry, he also wrote Vishwanabi (1942), a
fine biography of the prophet of Islam.
other well-known writers of this phase include Mohammad Akram
Khan, Dr muhammad shahidullah (1885-1969), Dr Muhammad Lutfar
Rahman (1889-1936), S Wazed Ali (1890-1951), Ibrahim Khan (1894-1978),
Nurunessa Khatun Vidyavinodini (1894-1975), Sheikh Muhammad Idris
Ali (1895-1945), Akbaruddin (1895-1979), Mohammad Barkatullah
(1898-1974), Abul Kalam Shamsuddin (1897-1978), Qazi Motahar
Hossain, Abul Mansur Ahmed (1898-1979), Benajir Ahmed (1903-1983),
abul fazal (1903-1983), Motaher Hossain Chowdhury (1903-1956),
Muhammad Mansuruddin (1904-1987), Abdul Quadir (1906-1984), Bande
Ali Miah (1906-1979), Mahmuda Khatun Siddiqua (1906-1977), Habibullah
Bahar Choudhury (1906-1966), Mahbub-ul Alam (1906-1982), Dr Muhammad
Enamul Huq, Sufi Motahar Hosen (1907-1975), Begum Sufia Kamal
(1911-1999) and Raushan Yazdani (1917-1967).
independence movement and the movement for Pakistan influenced
the Bangla-speaking people in two different ways. Despite their
allegiance to their common heritage and customs, the poets and
litterateurs of this phase, both old and new, were inspired to
work for the changed society and life of the new states of India
and Pakistan. The political partition of Bengal was thus accompanied
by the partition of its literature as well.
era The literature of Bangladesh may be divided into three phases:
first phase 1947-1957, second phase 1958-1970 and third phase
from 1971 onward.
phase (1947-1957) This phase extended from pre-partition days
to the pre-Ayub period. East Bengal faced a host of problems,
such as an influx of refugees, economic distress and communal
disturbances, as well as the Pakistani regime's hostile attitude
to East Bengal and Bangla. Soon after the creation of Pakistan,
the people of the eastern region realised the absurdity of a
state based on religion. The decision to make urdu the sole state
language of the country caused Bengalis to protest, culminating
in the language movement of 1952. This awareness of their linguistic
rights laid the foundation for the first phase of Bangla literature.
The fiction produced in Bangladesh was in fact a continuation
of the fiction produced by the Muslim writers of undivided Bengal.
Prominent among them were Muhammad Najibur Rahman, Korban Ali,
Sheikh Idris Ali, Kazi Imdadul Huq, Kazi Abdul Wadud, Akbaruddin
(1895-1978), Abul Fazal and Humayun Kabir. They founded the base
for fiction in Bangladesh by assimilating the thought process
of the Bengali Muslim society during the first two decades of
the 20th century.
of the novels of the first phase were written in the backdrop
of rural Bangladesh, among them lalsalu (1948) by syed waliullah
(1922-1971), Char-Bhanga Char (1951) by Kazi Afsaruddin (1921-1975),
Kashbaner Kanya (1954) and Alamnagarer Upakatha (1954) by Shamsuddin
Abul Kalam (1926-1997), Chandradviper Upakhyan (1952) by Abdul
Gaffar Choudhury (b 1934), Surya-Dighal Badi (1955) by Abu Ishaque
(b 1926), and sarder jayenuddin's Adiganta. Some writers chose
life of the middle class and its crisis as their theme. Among
this class of novels Abul Fazal's Jiban Pather Yatri (1948) and
Ranga Prabhat (1957) are worth mentioning.
stories Many of the Muslim writers of pre-partition days concentrated
on producing novels and very few wrote short stories. But prominent
among those who were active in the genre after 1947 include Abul
Fazal, Abu Rushd, Syed Waliullah, Abul Mansur Ahmed, Shamsuddin
Abul Kalam and shawkat osman (1917-1998). The new genre of short
stories grew around the Muslim middle class that sprang up following
partition; most stories used the social life of this class as
their theme. Thus the short stories of Bangladesh reflected social
reality and how the onslaught of urban life was eroding the quietude
of rural life. Some books of short stories of this phase were
Shawkat Osman's Pijranpol (1950), Junu Apa O Anyanya Galpa (1952)
and Sabek Kahini (1953), Shamsuddin Abul Kalam's Anek Diner Asha
(1952), Path Jana Nei (1953) and Dheu (1953), shahed ali's Jibrailer
Dana (1953), and Alauddin Al-Azad's Jege Achhi, Dhan Kanya (1951)
and Mrganabhi (1955).
The poets of East Bengal had been attempting since pre-partition
days to create poetry of their own separate from the Kolkata-centred
stream. After partition, the poets felt even more encouraged
to write romantic poems on the themes of early Islamic history
as well as on Pakistani nationalism. Those who belonged to this
trend included farrukh ahmad (1918-1974), ahsan habib (1918-1983),
Abul Husain (b 1921), Golam Quddus and Syed Ali Ahsan (b 1922).
Ahmad was the most prominent poet of this trend. He created a
world of poetry by using religious sentiments. His Sat Sagarer
Majhi (1944) and Sirajam Munira (1952) are two books of poems
worth mentioning. Two other equally important books on similar
themes are Golam Mostafa's Bani Adam (1958) and Talim Husain's
Dishari (1956). Other well-known poets of the time were Syed
Ali Ahsan, Mufakkharul Islam, Sadruddin and Sufi Zulfiqar Haider.
there were other poets who tried to write poetry on secular and
humanistic themes. Among these poets were Ashraf Siddiqui, with
Biskanya (1955), Sat Bhai Champa (1955) and Uttar Akasher Tara
(1958), Mazharul Islam with Matir Fasal (1955), Matiul Islam
with Saptakanya (1957) and Begum Sufia Kamal with Man O Jiban
(1957). This humanistic trend is also reflected in Natun Kavita
(1950), edited by Ashraf Siddiqui and Abdur Rashid Khan. Among
poets who contributed to this edition were Shamsur Rahman, hasan
hafizur rahman, Alauddin Al-Azad and Borhanuddin Khan Jahangir.
poetic trend was inspired by the themes of instability in modern
society, fatigue, rebellion and pangs of deprivation. The poets
of this stream include Ahsan Habib and Abul Husain. Ahsan Habib's
Ratrishes (1944) contained poems typical of his timidity and
modesty. Abul Husain's Naba Basanta (1942), though published
before partition, belongs to this trend.
influence of 21 February The events of 21 February 1952 had a
far-reaching effect on poetry as they did on the national life
of this country. In 1953 Hasan Hafizur Rahman published an anthology
of poems under the title of Ekushey February. Along with Natun
Kavita, this anthology played a significant role in shaping the
secular and humanistic character of Bangla poetry.
Unlike other branches of literature in this phase, plays did
not flourish to any significant extent. Religious and social
taboos about plays as well as various limitations in staging
them thwarted the development of drama. Most plays of the time
were based on historical stories, completely detached from the
realities of contemporary life. Of these plays, Akbaruddin's
Nadir Shah (1953) is worth mentioning. Poet Jasimuddin used folklore
to create Padmapar, Madhumala and Beder Meye. Outside these two
trends, nurul momen created Nemesis (1948) depicting a superb
picture of the contemporary life. In terms of theme and structure,
Nemesis was regarded as the first successful play of Bangladesh.
Razia Khan's play Sangbarta reflects political consciousness.
Askar Ibne Shaikh is particularly remembered for writing social
plays. He wrote quite a few plays based on the realities of rural
life including Padaksep, Bidrohi Padma, Duranta Dheu, Birodh,
Agnigiri, Anubartan and Pratiksa, all written between 1951 and
1959. Of particular interest is the thematic variety of these
plays, which include historical plays as well as plays of political
protest, plays based on folk tales and those containing poetry
was munier chowdhury (1925-1971) who almost single-handedly raised
the status of Bangla plays to an international level. A political
prisoner in Dhaka central jail, he wrote the exceptional play
Kabar (1953) based on the language movement of 1952. In fact,
Kabar proved to be a turning point in Bangla plays. When the
play was published, Manus and Nastachhele were added to the volume.
Through these three plays, the writer spoke of eschewing communalism
and of embracing greater humanism.
Most of the post-partition essays were on subjects of literature
and culture. Of the writers of this trend many were already well
known before partition, such as Muhammad Shahidullah and muhammad
abdul hai. Some books had been published in 1928 from Paris.
These writers continued to carry out valuable research on Bangla
language, literature and culture. Shahidullah's Bangla Sahityer
Katha (volume 1, 1953, volume 2, 1965) and Abdul Hai's Sahitya
O Sangskrti (1954) deserve special mention in the essay literature
of this phase.
phase (1958-1970) The literary and cultural activities
in Pakistan and especially in East Pakistan were thwarted following
the promulgation of martial law by the army chief Ayub Khan
in 1958. Restrictions on open politics, establishment of dictatorship
in the garb of democracy and similar other measures aroused
the Bengalis against the regime. The people's uprising in 1968,
the students' movement in 1969 to realise their 11-point demand,
the victory of the Bengalis in the general elections of 1970
but the refusal of the Pakistani junta to transfer power to
them, the liberation war of 1971, the victory won by the Bengalis
and the establishment of the sovereign state of Bangladesh
all there deeply affected the social life of the people and
were amply reflected in the Bangla literature of the 1958-1970
Fiction in the second phase, as in the first phase, was written
mainly on rural life. The harsh realities of rural life in Bangladesh
were the theme of Hazar Bachhar Dhare (1964) by zahir raihan
(1933-1972). The complexities of Hindu-Muslim relations in rural
life were used by satyen sen (1907-1981) as the theme of his
Padachihna (1968). shahidullah kaiser (1925-1971) in his Sareng
Bau (1962) depicts a realistic picture of how the onslaught and
complexity of urban life were destroying the peace of the rural
life of south Bengal. Alauddin Al-Azad's Karnafuli portrayed
the life of class struggle on the banks of the river karnafuli.
ahmed sofa's Surya Tumi Sathi (1968) showed the continuing struggle
for existence of rural people. However, Syed Waliullah's Chander
Amabasya (1964), though ostensibly about rural life, is actually
about social life under the Ayub Khan regime.
shadow cast by Ayub's military rule on the life and thoughts
of the Bengalis led creative writers to take to myths and symbolism
to put forward their message. The crises that the Bengali middle
class passed through during the Ayub rule were symbolically presented
by Shawkat Osman in his novels Krtadaser Hasi (1963), Raja Upakhyan
(1970) and Samagam. Similarly, Satyen Sen in his Abhishapta Nagari
(1967) and Paper Santan (1969) portrayed the eternal struggle
of the people for existence using an Old Testament's myth. Shamsuddin
Abul Kalam's Bhawal Garher Upakhyan (1963) reflected the writer's
commitment to society and his progressive political thoughts.
this phase many wrote modern individualistic novels on the models
of the European middle class and individualism. These novels
indicate a lack of trust in values, and a want of confidence
in the force of love and a strong distaste for life. The writers
chose loneliness and detachment of urban individuals as themes
of their novels. Of this genre, Battalar Upanyas (1959) and Anukalpa
(1959) by Razia Khan (b 1936) deserve special mention. Syed Shamsul
Huq (b 1935) is adept in writing such novels. Quite a few of
his novels show his deliberate attempts at employing Freudian
theories. His most well-known novels are Deyaler Desh (1959),
Ek Mahilar Chhabi (1959), Anupam Din (1962) and Simana Chhadiye
Raihan's Shes Bikeler Meye (1960) was apparently a romantic love
story but it really portrayed the complicated life of the rising
Bengali middle class of the time. Alauddin Al-Azad's Teish Nambar
Tailachitra (1960) and Shiter Shes Rat Basanter Pratham Din (1962)
primarily showed the individual man's crisis and mental agony.
Similarly, the psychological conflict of a couple who are artists
is portrayed in Ahsan Habib's novel Aranya Nilima (1961). Rashid
Karim's Prasanna Pasan (1963) is a faithful documentation of
the crisis in the life of the urban middle class. Shawkat Ali's
Pingal Akash (1963) portrays the coarseness of the urban middle
class, its immoral craving for riches, and its lust for sex.
The novel Ghar Man Janala (1965) by Dilara Hashim (b 1943) is
a tale of the struggle for existence of the middle class and
their sense of frustration.
effects of post-1947 politics in East Bengal also extended to
creative literature. The reputed novels that realistically reflected
the ways of contemporary politics and the nationalistic movements
for liberation include Shahidullah Kaiser's Sangsaptak (1965),
Alauddin Al-Azad's Ksudha O Asha (1964), Sarder Jayenuddin's
Anek Suryer Asha (1967), Zahir Raihan's Arek Falgun (1969), Zahirul
Islam's Agnisaksi (1969), Satyen Sen's Uttaran (1970) and Nidsandhani
(1968) of anwar pasha (1928-1971).
stories The genre of the Bangla short story flourished in East
Pakistan as new writers emerged who, like the already active
writers, began writing on themes close to life. The writers faithfully
reflected through their short stories the problems faced by the
rural poor. Such works included Shahed Ali's Ekai Samatale (1963),
Sarder Jayenuddin's Bir Kanthir Biye and Nayan Dhuli. Many others
chose, alongside village life, the complexity of urban middle
class life, their hope and despair, desire and ennui, etc. The
books that particularly reflected the life of the urban middle
class were Abdul Gaffar Choudhury's Samrater Chhabi (1959), Krishnapaksa
(1959) and Sundar He Sundar (1960), and Syed Shamsul Huq's Shit
Bikel (1959), Rakta Golap (1964) and Anander Mrityu (1967).
Al-Azad attempted to depict the social realities outside the
usual rural-urban scenario from the viewpoint of dialectical
materialism. Most of his stories showed the ugly consequences
of class struggle. Jege Achhi, Dhankanya (1951), Andhakar Sindi
(1958) and Yakhan Saikat (1967). Borhanuddin Khan Jahangir attempted
to view life from the Marxist angle. Most of the events and characters
of his stories in his books Durduranta (1968), Abichchhinna (1969)
and Bishal Krodh (1969) were drawn from the life of the urban
middle and upper middle classes.
Even in this phase some poets used Islam as the primary inspiration
of their work. Among these writings were Farrukh Ahmad's Hatem
Ta'yi (1966), Raushan Yazdani's Khatamun Nabi-in (1960), Talim
Husain's Shahin (1962), Sufi Zulfiqar Haider's Fer Banao Mussalman
(1959). During the 1965 Indo-Pak war, patriotism, national pride
and communal hostility formed their themes of poetry. But after
the war, this trend waned, yielding place to humanistic thoughts
that transcended communal feelings. Simple romantic love, nature
and man became the main themes of poetry of this time. This trend
manifested itself most prominently in Syed Ali Ahsan's Uchcharan
(1968), Shamsur Rahaman's Bidhvasta Nilima (1967), Muhammad Moniruzzaman's
Bipanna Bisad (1968), Hasan Hafizur Rahman's Antim Sharer Mata
(1968), Al Mahmud's Kaler Kalas (1966), Shahid Qadri's Uttaradhikar
(1968), Fazal Shahabuddin's Akanksita Asundar (1969), Syed Shamsul
Huq's Biratihin Utsav, and Abdul Mannan Syed's Janmandha Kavitaguchchha
(1966). Some other books worth mentioning are Muhammad Mahfuzullah's
Julekhar Man (1959), Kader Nawaz's Nil Kumudi (1960) and Mahmuda
Khatun Siddiqua's Man O Mrttika.
genre of poetry that flourished at the time expressed the fatigue,
failure and despair of contemporary life. Two books of this category
are Shamsur Rahaman's Pratham Gan Dvitiya Mrtyur Age (1960) and
Raudra Karotite (1963). Some other similar books of poems are
abdul ghani hazari's Samanya Dhan (1961) and Suryer Sindi, Syed
Shamsul Huq's Ekada Ek Rajye (1961), Syed Ali Ahsan's Anek Akash
(1961) and Ekak Sandhyay Basanta (1962), Hasan Hafizur Rahman's
Bimukh Prantar (1963), Al Mahmud's Lok Lokantar (1963) and Ahsan
Habib's Sara Dupur (1964).
genre of poems of the time reflected the thoughts and sentiments
of the poets on East Bengal's history, heritage and nature. Patriotism
was the primary burden of those poems. These sentiments are clearly
visible in Sanaul Huq's Sambhaba Ananya (1962) and Surya Anyatara
(1963). The reflection of Bengali nationalism in the poetry later
was but a continuation of this trend. Many poets of the time
were also influenced by Marxism, including Alauddin Al-Azad and
Husne Ara who regarded poetry as a weapon for social change.
Manchitra (1961) by Alauddin Al-Azad and Michhil (1964) by Husne
Ara espouse the cause of oppressed people.
poetry of the time gradually moved towards a concern for the
masses. Even without being votaries of any particular political
or social ideology, poets attempted to voice the collective feelings
and sentiments of the masses of East Bengal. Syed Shamsul Huq's
Baishakhe Rachita Pangktimala (1969), Shamsur Rahaman's Nij Basbhume
(1970), Al Mahmud's Sonali Kabin and Nirmalendu Goon's Premangshur
Rakta Chai (1970) bear testimony to such thoughts. The basic
themes of these poems were the misery of the common people, craving
for national independence, oppression and repression of the Bengalis
as a race and the people's protests against all this. The poets
attempted to portray the dreams of the masses beyond the misfortunes
of individuals. The Bengali people's uprising of 1969 prompted
this changeover. The uprising also effected a change in the vocabulary
of the poems as the people were daily getting to know such terms
as 'misil' (processions), 'dharmaghat' (strike), hartal, shlogans,
'sandhya-ain' (curfew), police, military etc. Easily those words
found their way into the poetry. Enriched by such vocabulary,
the Bangla poetry reached the close periphery of the life of
The efforts at writing Bangla plays in the first phase on the
basis of contemporary period and society continued with vigour
in the second phase. The plays in this phase were varied and
tried to portray the social realities. Several of Munier Chowdhurypowerful
plays, including some translated works, were published at this
time. Munier Chowdhury's Dandakaranya (1966) was written on the
subject of contemporary society. His play Chithi was a satire
written on ordinary subjects to creater laughter. Although written
on a historical subject, his Raktakta Prantar was a superb dramatisation
of the contemporary anti-war psychology. Based on historical
subjects, sikander abu zafar's Sirajuddaula (1965) and Mahakavi
Alaol (1966) were comments on life. Shawkat Osman also attempted
to write plays on contemporary society. His Amlar Mamla, Taskar
Laskar, Kankar Mani and Etimkhana were all based on contemporary
Waliullah was a distinguished name in Bangla dramatic literature.
He was the first playwright to introduce the style and techniques
of elegance and technique in Bangla plays. His Bahipir and Tarangabhanga
(1964) were additions of differing genre in Bangla drama. Like
him, Sayeed Ahmed also used modern philosophy and artistic theories
to create Bangla plays. His Kalbela (1962) and Milepost could
be compared with the standard of world class plays. In technique
of form too these plays were innovative and experimental.
Al-Azad's Mayabi Prahar (1969) is based on class struggle, while
Moroccor Yadughar (1959) depicts the problems of modern life
through symbolsm. Sikander Abu Zafar also successfully used symbolism
in his plays as in Shakunta Upakhyan (1968). Zia Haider's Shubhra
Sundar Kalyani Ananda (1970) and Abdullah Al-Mamun's Shapath
(1965) are also essentially symbolic plays. Other playwrights
of this period include anis chowdhury, Neelima Ibrahim, anm bazlur
rashid, Ibrahim Khalil and kalyan mitra.
The essays in this phase mainly concentrated on research about
the history of Bangla literature with emphasis on Muslim writers.
Some important works of the time were Nazirul Islam Muhammad
Sufian's Bangla Sahityer Natun Itihas, Abdul Latif Choudhury's
Bangla Sahityer Itihas, Muhammad Enamul Huq's Muslim Bangla Sahitya,
joint work of Muhammad Abdul Hai and Syed Ali Ahsan Bangla Sahityer
Itibrtta, Kazi Deen Muhammad's Bangla Sahityer Itihas and Muhammad
Mansuruddin's Bangla Sahitye Muslim Sadhana.
essays on society, literature and culture were written at this
time, including the essays contained in Kazi Deen Muhammad's
Sahitya-sambhar O Sahityashilpa, ahmed sharif's Bichita Chinta
and Mazharul Islam's Sahitya Pathe. There have been many essays
on thematic aspects of Bangla literature but few on its structural
aspects. Syed Ali Ahsan, however, showed the way in his Kavitar
Katha and Adhunik Kavita: Shabder Anusange. Other important essays
in this respect were Syed Ali Ashraf's Kavya Parichay and Ranesh
Dasgupta's Upanyaser Shilparup.
on Bangla and Muslim contribution In this phase several writers
wrote books on Bangla. A number of well-known works include Muhammad
Shahidullah's Bangala Bhasar Itibrtta, Muhammad Abdul Hai's Dhvani
Bijnan O Bangla Dhvanitattva, and Shibprosanna Lahiri's Sylheti
Bhasatattver Bhumika. A number of books were also written on
the contribution of Muslim writers in Bangla literature. Some
of these books include Anisuzzaman's Muslim Manas O Bangla Sahitya,
Kazi Abdul Mannan's Adhunik Bangla Sahitye Muslim Sadhana, Muhammad
Mahfuzullah's Bangla Kavye Muslim Aitihya, Mustafa Nurul Islam's
Muslim Bangla Sahitya and Ghulam Saqlain's Muslim Sahitya O Sahityik
and Purba Pakistaner Sufi Sadhak.
interest in puthi literature grew at this time as researchers
delved into the medieval past of Bangla literature. Alaol's Padmavati
was edited by Muhammad Shahidullah, Syed Ali Ahsan and abdul
karim sahityavisharad. Ahmad Sharif edited over 15 puthis including
Daulat Uzir Bahram Khan's Laily-Majnu (1958), Alaol's Tohfa (1958),
Muhammad Khan's Satyakali-Bibad-Sangbad Ba Yug Sangbad (1959)
and Jainuddin's Rasulbijay (1964). Daulat Qazi's Satimayna O
Lorchandrani (1969) was edited by Mazharul Islam and Muhammad
Abdul Hafiz, and Nawajis Khan's gule bakawali (1970) was edited
by Razia Sultana.
on Rabindranath Despite the antipathy of the Pakistani rulers
towards Rabindranath, the period saw a growing interest in him
reflected in the number of books written on him. Among these
books are mofazzal haider chaudhuri's Rabi Parikrama, Anwar Pasha's
Rabindra Chhotagalpa Samiksa, Jogeshchandra Singh's Dhyani Rabindranath,
Anisuzzaman edited Rabindranath, Syed Akram Husain's Rabindranather
Upanyas: Deshkal O Shilparup, Ahmad Kabir's Rabindrakavya: Upama
O Pratik and Humayun Azad's Rabindranath: Rastra O Samajchinta.
phase (1971- (1971- ) The liberation war of 1971 and the independence
of Bangladesh marks the third phase of the literature of this
The fiction of this phase records the saga of the liberation
war, the hellish face of the war, the dream of a free and egalitarian
Bangladesh and thereafter the realization of independence. Syed
Shamsul Huq's novels of this phase depict the complex and multifaceted
conflicts. His novel Duratva (1981) very faithfully portrays,
through the autobiographical account of Zainal, a college teacher,
the intricate socio-political realities of post-1975 Bangladesh.
His two other novels, Mahashunye Paran Master 1982) and Ayna
Bibir Pala (1982), also depict the changes and erosion in rural
Abdul Hai's novel Timi (1981) depicts the instability and socio-political
scenario of the years immediately following independence. It
portrays quite faithfully how the people of the coastal union
Kazalpur win in their struggle against evil forces. Almost an
identical picture is portrayed in his novel Prabhu (1986). Bashir
al-Helal's Shes Panpatra (1986) is also a fine portrayal of conflicts
and questions of existence in post-indepence rural Bangladesh.
struggle of the char people for survival in the coastal region
has been truly reflected in Selina Husain's Jalochchhvas (1972)
and Pokamakader Gharbasati (1986). Two other books of the type
are Abu Bakr Siddique's Jal Raksas (1985) and Kharadaha (1987).
A more optimistic view of rural life is found in Haripada Dutta's
Ishane Agnidaha (1986) and Andhakupe Janmotsav (1987).
large section of the patriotic middle class who took part in
the liberation war got frustrated at the country's economic,
social and political conditions. The post-1971 novels painted
pictures of the post-independence instability and despondency.
Sarder Jayenuddin's Shrimati Ka O Kha Ebang Shriman Taleb Ali
(1973) depicts the overwhelming corrosion in the life of the
middle class in the post-liberation days. Humayun Ahmed's Nandita
Narake (1972) and Shankhanil Karagar (1973) depict the static
state of the life of the middle class and their frustrations
and loneliness. The picture of the alienated hedonist is found
in Syed Shamsul Huq's Khelaram Khele Ya (1973). The multifarious
problems in the life of the middle class are also depicted in
Rashid Karim's Prem Ekti Lal Golap (1978) and Sadharan Loker
Kahini (1981). Rizia Rahman's Rakter Aksar (1978), on the other
hand, paints the dark picture of an urban slum of sex workers.
Her Ekti Fuler Janya (1986) presents a freedom fighter's face
wearing the scars of defeat. Some other similar books are Shawkat
Ali's Apeksa (1985), Bashir Al-Helal's Kalo Ilish (1979), Hasnat
Abdul Hai's Amar Atatayi (1980), and Selina Husain's Magnachaitanye
Shis (1979). Razia Khan's novel He Mahajiban (1983) narrates
the biography of a liberated woman.
Rahman's Octopus (1983) and Montage (1985) depict the sufferings
of an individual due to internal as well as external compulsions.
A trilogy on this theme was created by abu jafar shamsuddin through
his Padma Meghna Jamuna (1974), Sangkar Sangkirtan (1980) and
the pre-independence work Bhawal Garher Upakhyan. Shawkat Osman's
Artanad (1985) and Selina Husain's Yapita Jiban (1981) were portrayals
of the fundamental sentiments of the language movement as well
as of the post-partition refugee problem and the cultural conflict.
A number of novels were inspired by the anthropological, historical,
and cultural heritage of the land. Among these novels are Shawkat
Ali's Pradose Prakrtajan (1984) based on history and heritage
is a unique addition to fiction. Rizia Rahman's Bang Theke Bangla
(1978) and Ekal Chirakal (1984) as well as Selina Husain's Nil
Mayurer Yauban (1983) and Chand Bene (1984) encompass the long
span of anthropological, geographical, social and cultural life
of the Bengalis.
assessment and analysis of the critical political situation that
prevailed in post-liberation Bangladesh resulting from political
instability, militarism, theological overtones and the rehabilitation
of war criminals prompted the writing of a number of novels including
Shawkat Osman's Patanga Pinjar (1983) and Selina Husain's Nirantar
Ghantadhvani (1987). The individual and collective dreams and
political aspirations of the people of the sixties form the basis
for Shawkat Ali's trilogy- Daksinayaner Din (1985), Kulay Kalasrot
(1986) and Purbaratri Purbadin (1986). The mass uprising of the
people in the sixties is the theme of akhteruzzaman elias's novel
Chilekothar Sepai (1986). Anwar Pasha's autobiographical Rifle
Roti Aorat (1973) is based on the liberation war. Shawkat Osman
wrote four novels on the same theme: Jahannam Haite Biday (1971),
Dui Sainik (1973), Nekde Aranya (1973) and Jalanggi (1976).
Poetry in the post-independence days could be described as poetry
of the liberation war, for it was inspired by the war, its sentiments
and experiences. Those who started writing poetry prior to liberation
and continued to be active in the post-independence days include
Abdul Mannan Syed, Abdullah Abu Sayeed, Rafiq Azad, Muhammad
Rafiq, Jinat Ara Rafiq, Altaf Husain and Asad Choudhury. Younger
poets such as Nirmalendu Goon, Mahadev Saha, Humayun Azad, Daud
Haider and Humayun Kabir were far closer to life and linked more
to the soil and its people. Their poems depicted more faithfully
the feelings of the masses than the pleasures and sorrows of
the free environment of the independent country, poetry, compared
to other branches, became the most important segment of literature.
But soon the poets, like the common people, became frustrated
and afflicted with despair when they found that their hopes raised
by independence were far from being realised. Their sentiments
found expression in such poems as Daud Haider's 'janmai amar
ajanma pap' (Being born has been my original sin) and Rafiq Azad's
'Bhat de haramzada ta na hale manchitra khabo' (Give me food
O bastard or else I will eat up the map). Most well-known among
the books of poems on the instability and famine-stricken life
after liberation were Rafiq Azad's Bhat De Haramzada, Daud Haider's
Janmai Amar Ajanma Pap and Rudra Muhammad Shahidullah's Batase
important theme of post-independence poetry has been love. Alongside
concern for the political situation, the poets of Bangladesh
also dealt with the heart's affairs in their work. The young
poets as well as the older ones published books of love poems.
They treated love and revolution on equal footing and worked
in earnest to achieve their desired goal. At the same time, poets
did not hesitate to express their frustration, anger and protest
when the military dictatorship seized power thwarting the democratic
group of poets in the post-liberation days experimented surrealistic
poems. In this connection, Abdul Mannan Syed's Parabastav Kavita
is worth mentioning. This trend did not however last long. Some
poets even experimented with breaking poetic metres to bring
about changes in form. Of course, such changes had been tried
in the past and continued to be tried now.
poetry of the eighties was essentially loaded with sentiments
of protest. Bangladesh was then under military dictatorship witnessing
misrule and exploitation of a power-hungry coterie. The poetry
of the time directly reflected the anger of the poets. In the
nineties, a new awakening stirred the poetry of Bangladesh. The
poets consciously started cultivating post-modern trend. They
started looking back at the original heritage of the country
and this movement centred round the little magazines. The modernism
initiated by the poets of the thirties had little link with the
poetry of eternal Bangladesh, for it was imposed. The post-modernist
poets attempted to free Bangla poetry from the robe of imposed
modernism and make it genuinely Bangladeshi in the true language
of the country.
stories In post-liberation Bangladesh, those who earned repute
as writers of short stories included Abu Zafar Shamsuddin, Abu
Rushd, Shawkat Osman and Alauddin Al-Azad. Abu Zafar Shamsuddin's
Rajen Thakurer Tirthayatra (1977) is a collection of speech-oriented
short stories. Abu Rushd's Mahendra Mistanna Bhandar (1986) has
a number of daring and fine short stories. In the post-liberation
days Syed Shamsul Huq concentrated on writing novels and plays
but his Prachin Bangsher Nihshva Santan is a book of some exceptional
short stories. Abul Khair Muslehuddin and Nazmul Alam wrote short
stories based on the lives of ordinary people. sayeed atiqullah,
on the other hand, wrote symbolic short stories, as found in
his book Budhbar Rate (1973).
short stories of this phase, compared to those written prior
to independence, were far more pro-people and more concerned
with politics. The liberation war, the pains of a large segment
of the frustrated middle class freedom fighters, erosion in the
rural and urban life and lack of peace in family life surfaced
again and again in the short stories of this period. Many of
the writers were themselves freedom fighters and had had personal
experience of the war. The armed struggle of the people of Bangladesh
against the repression and genocide committed by the occupation
army provided inspiration to the writers. The first anthology
of short stories on the freedom struggle- Bangladesh Katha Kay
(1971)- was published from Kolkata by Abdul Gaffar Choudhury.
The stories spoke of direct experience of the war. Later, some
similar books published from Dhaka included Bashir Al-Helal's
Pratham Krishnachuda (1972), Abul Hasnat edited Muktiyuddher
Galpa (1973) and Harun Habib edited Muktiyuddher Nirbachita Galpa
number of books of short stories reflected the new country's
social instability, a downturn in law and order, moral degradation
of the youth and an overall breakdown in the sense of values.
Among these books of short stories are Shawkat Osman's Janma
Yadi Taba Bange (1975), Alauddin Al-Azad's Amar Rakta, Svapna
Amar (1975) and Abdul Mannan Syed's Mrtyur Adhik Lal Ksudha (1977).
short stories of this phase exhibited a major change of attitude
with the downtrodden segment of the society finding a place as
subjects alongside the people of upper strata. Many writers created
a world of fiction by using this phenomenon of social polarisation.
The books of short stories of this trend include Rahat Khan's
Anishchita Lokalay (1972), Antahin Yatra (1975), and Bhalamander
Taka (1981), Abdus Shakur's Crisis (1976) and Saras Galpa (1982),
Rashid Haider's Antare Bhinna Purus and Megheder Gharbadi, Hasnat
Abdul Hai's Eka Abang E Prasange and Yakhan Basanta, Mafruha
Choudhury's Aranya Gatha O Ananya Galpa, Bashir Al-Helal's Biparit
Manus, Mahbub Talukdar's Arup Tomar Vani, Abul Hasnat's Parakiya,
Kabosna and Baz, Subrata Barua's Kachpoka, Nazma Jesmin Choudhury's
Anya Nayak, Humayun Ahmed's Nishikavya and Shit O Anyanya Galpa
and Imdadul Huq Milon's Love Story.
the tales of poverty stricken landless peasants, their exploitation
and repression by the zamindars, money lenders, political touts
and religious zealots continued to be written. Hasan Azizul Huq's
short stories depict the life of such people of north Bengal
in Jiban Gase Agun (1973), Namhin Gotrahin (1975) and Patale
Haspatale (1981). Shawkat Ali's Lelihan Sadh (1973) and Shuna
He Lakhindar (1986) also deserve mention.
Elias's books of short stories were also published after independence,
among them, Anya Ghare Anya Svar (1976), Khoyari (1982) and Dudhbhate
Utpat (1985). He depicted the life of old Dhaka graphically in
his stories. The social condition and the socio-political scenario
painted by Hasan Azizul Huq, Shawkat Ali and Akhtaruzzaman Elias
in their short stories had on one side oppressed rural life and
on the other the decaying sense of values.
Drama flourished after 1971. Innovative ideas, political awareness,
skill in form and use of refined language, revitalised drama.
The plays of this time were based on the people's movement and
the liberation war as well as the erosion in social values and
the despair of the masses. Symbolism and folk heritage were also
used in many of the plays. Many foreign plays were translated
at this time. Those who made the drama movement forceful included
Syed Shamsul Huq, Abdullah Al-Mamun, Mamunur Rashid and Selim
Al-Din. All of them were connected with drama performances.
Shamsul Huq's poetic play Payer Awaz Pawa Jay (1976) based on
the liberation war was a valuable addition to Bangla drama literature.
His Nuruldiner Sara Jiban (1982), Ekhane Ekhano Yuddha and Yuddha
were important works in terms of dramatic form. Abdullah Al-Mamun
established himself through his play Subachan Nirbasane. Around
1974 he wrote quite a few successful plays on the prevailing
loss of social values, despair and instability including Ekhan
Duhsamay, Charidike Yuddha, Ebar Dhara Dao, Senapati and Ekhano
contemporary playwrights, Mamunur Rashid has proved to be the
most socially conscious. His well-known plays include Ora Kadam
Ali (1979), Ora Achhe Balei (1981), Iblis (1983), Ekhane Nonar
(1984) and Guineapig. Selim Al-Din experimented with drama forms
and language. His talent in writing satirical plays was proved
in his Sangbad Cartoon and Muntasir Fantasy. His Kittankhola
(1985), Shakuntala and Keramatmangal are also well-known.
Ahmed had been writing plays since before liberation days but
came into prominence after independence. He showed a special
aptitude for writing one-act plays and for satirical language.
His two post-independence successful plays were Sat Ghater Kanakadi
and Ki Chaha Shankhachil (1985).
liberation there appeared a number of drama groups which organised
regular stage performances. The groups that were particularly
active were nagarik natya sampraday, Theatre, dhaka theatre,
aranyak, dhaka padatik and natyachakra. They translated or adapted
and staged plays of such world famous playwrights as Bertolt
Brecht, Moliere, Anton Chekhov, Shakespeare and Ibsen.
and research In post-liberation Bangladesh there has been a noticeable
progress in research. The major themes of research include ancient
and medieval literature, modern literature, Rabindra literature,
Nazrul literature, folk literature, linguistics, the language
movement, and the liberation war. Those who made significant
contributions in research were Sanjida Khatun, Rafiqul Islam,
Anisuzzaman, abu hena mostafa kamal, Mohammad Moniruzzaman and
Abdul Hafiz. Sanjida Khatun worked on Rabindranath and Rafiqul
Islam on Nazrul. Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal's book had the title
of Bengali Press and Literary Writing (1977).
research on folk literature has also been carried on by Abul
Kalam Muhammad Zakaria, Ashraf Siddiqui, Mazharul Islam, Abdus
Sattar, Wakil Ahmed, Abdul Hafiz, Anwarul Karim, Khondkar Reazul
Huq, SM Lutfur Rahman and Abul Ahsan Choudhury. Those who worked
on linguistics were Mohammad Abdul Qayyum, Rafiqul Islam, Abul
Kalam Manjoor Morshed, Mansur Musa, Humayun Azad, Daniul Huq
who wrote essays on politics and sociology include Badruddin
Omar, Abdul Huq, Serajul Islam Choudhury, Abul Kashem Fazlul
Huq and Ahmed Rafiq. Ranesh Dasgupta, Syed Ali Ahsan, Kabir Choudhury
and Abdul Mannan Syed have made valuable contributions in writing
scholarly essays. Ranesh Dasgupta was well known as a Marxist
writer. Syed Ali Ahsan wrote a host of essays on Bangla poetry
and fine arts. His Satata Svagata and Shilpabodh O Shilpachaitanya
contained essays of deep insight. Kabir Choudhury has introduced
foreign writers and their works to Bengali readers.
Muhammad Shahidullah, Bangla Sahityer Katha (Vols I-II), Dhaka,
1967, 1976; MA Hai and SA Ahsan, Bangla Sahityer Itibritta, Chittagong,
1968; Sukumar Sen, Bangala Sahityer Itihas (Vols I-IV), Eastern
Publishers, Calcutta, 1970-1976; Asitkumar Bandyopadhyay, Bangla
Sahityer Itibritta (Vols I-V), 4th ed, Calcutta, 1982-85; Ahmad
Sharif, Bangali O Bangla Sahitya (Vols I-II), Dhaka, 1978, 1983;
Dineshchandra Sen, Bangabhasa O Sahitya, Asitkumar Bandyopadhyay
ed, Calcutta, 1986.
added 30102005 @ 1600 GMT