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Bangla literature through ages

Mohammad Daniul Huq and Aminur Rahman :(From the previous issue)In the phase of essay literature of the thirties 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 Atulchandra 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.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.Among 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 Oborodhbasini (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 traditional 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 Vixwanabi (1942), a fine biography of the Prophet of Islam.Some 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 Mia (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).India’s 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.The literature of Bangladesh may be divided into three phases: first phase 1947-1957, second phase 1958-1970 and third phase from 1971 onward.First phase (1947-57) 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.Most 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), Kashboner Konya (1954) and Alamnagarer Upakatha (1954) by Shamsuddin Abul Kalam (1926-1997), Chandradviper Upakhyan (1952) by Abdul Gaffar Choudhury (b 1934), Surya-Dighal Bari (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 Jatri (1948) and Ranga Prabhat (1957) are worth mentioning.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 SSS; 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 Onek 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 Mrigonabhi (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).Farrukh 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.However, 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.Another 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 Ratrixes (1944) contained poems typical of his timidity and modesty. Abul Husain’s Naba Basanta (1942), though published before partition, belongs to this trend.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.(to be continued)
0 Comments. Share your thoughts also.Mohammad Daniul Huq and Aminur Rahman :Madhusudan 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 significant contributions were Dwijendra Lal Roy and Girish Chandra Ghosh (1844-1912).The 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.In the 1860s the English rulers severely suppressed the Faraizi, Wahabi and other religious and political movements. Towards the end of the century, Munshi Meherullah and his disciple, Munshi Muhammad Zamiruddin, launched a movement to make Bangali 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 Mashhadi, 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 Bangalis 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.The 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 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 Bangali 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.Some 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. 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.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 ‘Vixvakavi’ (world poet) and won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913 for his book of poems Gitavjali, 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.The 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 Bangalis, and, above all, the life of the Bangali 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.Other 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. Probhatkumar 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.Some 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, Pravabati Devi , Sita Devi, Shanta Devi and Hemendrakumar Roy.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.Mohitlal Majumder paved the way for modernism. Frankly sexual, his love poems celebrate physical love. In idiom and structure, however, his style was classical. Kazi 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 entrance into poetry, ensured his place in Bangla literature. He was also a great 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.Some 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.Like the other writers of this era, the essayists were also 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 convinced 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 literary critic.Ramendrasundar 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 Xilpa 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.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.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.Other 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 Pavchagram (1944) bring rural life alive. His short stories also focus on the village.The novelist and short story writer, Manik Bandyopadhyay, was profoundly influenced by Marxism and by Freudian psychoanalysis. Putul Nacher Itikatha (1936) and Padmanadir Majhi (1936) reveal his Marxist leanings as they do his psychological 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.Some other powerful novelists and short story writers of the time were Jagadish Gupta, Bibhutibhushan Mukhopadhyay, 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-).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.The complexity of modern poetry is reflected in the works of Sudhindranath Dutta who used complex language and difficult phrases for the sake of his writing 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.Buddhadev 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.The 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.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.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; (to be continued)Mohammad Daniul Huq and Aminur Rahman :(From the previous issue)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 Sambarta 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 folktales and those containing poetry and satire.It 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 Samskrti (1954) deserve special mention in the essay literature of this phase.The second phase is from 1958 to 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 period.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 Sarem 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. Ahmad Safa’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.The shadow cast by Ayub’s military rule on the life and thoughts of the Bangalis led creative writers to take to myths and symbolism to put forward their message. The crises that the Bangali middle class passed through during the Ayub rule were symbolically presented by Shawkat Osman in his novels Kritadaser Hasi (1963), Raja Upakhyan (1970) and 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.In 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 (1964).Zahir Raihan’s Shesh Bikeler Meye (1960) was apparently a romantic love story but it really portrayed the complicated life of the rising Bangali 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 Pirgal 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.The 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 Samsaptak (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).The genre of the Bangla short story flourished in the then 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 Eki 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).Alauddin 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 Xarer Mata (1968), Al Mahmud’s Kaler Kalas (1966), Shahid Qadri’s Uttaradhikar (1968), Fazal Shahabuddin’s Akabksita 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 Mrittika.Another 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 Gani 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).Another 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.Bangla 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 Pamktimala (1969), Shamsur Rahaman’s Nij Basbhume (1970), Al Mahmud’s Sonali Kabin and Nirmalendu Goon’s Premarshur 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 Bangalis 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 Bangali 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, slogans, ‘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 masses.(to be continued)

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