Ch 8 Novels, Society and History Class 10th Notes| History Social Science

The Rise of the Novel

• A novel is a modern form of literature which is born from print, a mechanical invention.

• The novel first took firm root in England and France.

• From the eighteenth century, novels started flowering.

• As readership grew, the earnings of authors increased and gave them the freedom to experiment with different literary styles.

The Publishing Market

• The introduction of circulating libraries in 1740 provided easier access to books.

• Technological improvements in printing brought down the price of books.

• The novel became one of the first mass-produced items to be sold because the worlds created by novels were absorbing and believable, and seemingly real.

• In rural areas, people would collect to hear one of them reading a novel aloud.

• Serialisation of novels in the magazines allowed readers to enjoy the suspense, discuss the characters of a novel and live for weeks with their stories.

The World of the Novel

• In the nineteenth century, Europe entered the industrial age.
→ During this time, the central theme of the most novel were lives of industrial workers.

• Charles Dickens published two novels named Hard Times (1854) and Oliver Twist (1838) at this time.
→ Hard Times describes Coketown, a fictitious industrial town while Oliver Twist is the tale of a poor orphan.

Community and Society

• The vast majority of readers of the novel lived in the city. 

• The novel uses the vernacular, the language that is spoken by common people. 

The New Woman

• In the eighteenth century, women got more leisure to read as well as write novels.

• In novels, they drew upon their experience, wrote about family life and earned public recognition.

• The women novelists also showed women as rebels who broke established norms of society before adjusting to them.

Novels for the Young

• Novels for young boys idealised a new type of man: someone who was powerful, assertive, independent and daring.

• Most of these novels were full of adventure set in places remote from Europe where colonisers appear heroic and honourable.

• Books like R.L. Stevenson’s Treasure Island (1883) or Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book (1894) became great hits.

Colonialism and After

• The early novel contributed to colonialism by making the readers feel they were part of a superior community of fellow colonialists.

The Novel Comes to India

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

• The earliest novel in Marathi was Baba Padmanji’s Yamuna Paryatan (1857), about the plight of widows.

• Translations of novels into different regional languages helped to spread the popularity of the novel.

The Novel in South India

• A few early novels came out of attempts to translate English novels into Indian languages.
→ However, they were instant failure because of culture difference.

The Novel in Hindi

• In the north, Bharatendu Harishchandra, the pioneer of modern Hindi literature.

• In 1882, the first proper modern novel titled Pariksha-Guru written by Srinivas Das of Delhi.

• Hindi novel achieved Excellence with the writing of Premchand.

Novels in Bengal

• In the nineteenth century, there were two types of novels:
→ One was based on historical events.
→ Another was domestic novels which dealt with the social problems and romantic relationships between men and women.

• The new well educated Bengalis (bhadralok) found himself at home in the more private world of reading novels. 

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

Novels in the Colonial World

Uses of the Novel

• Colonial administrators found ‘vernacular’ novels a valuable source of information on native life and customs in governing Indian society, with its large variety of communities and castes.

The Problem of Being Modern

• Novels did not always show things exactly as they were in reality. 

• Under colonial rule, many of the English-educated class found new Western ways of living and thinking attractive. 

• Through the ideal characters of novel, they showed how Indian and foreign lifestyles could be brought together in an ideal combination.

Pleasures of Reading

• In India too, the novel became a popular medium of entertainment among the middle class.

• Novels encouraged reading alone and in silence.

Women and the Novel

• Women also began to write novels.

• In the early decades of the twentieth century, women in south India also began writing novels and short stories.

• Stories of love was a staple theme of many novels.

• Many men were suspicious of women writing novels or reading them which cut across communities.

Caste Practices, ‘Lower-Castes’ and Minorities

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

• From the 1920s, in Bengal, a new kind of novel emerged that detailed the lives of peasants and ‘low’ castes.

The Nation and its History

• The educated and working Indians under the English system wanted a new view of the past that would show that Indians could be independent minded and had been so in history.

• In Bengal, many historical novels were about Marathas and Rajputs which produced a sense of a pan-Indian belonging.

• The imagined nation of the novel was so powerful that it could inspire actual political movements.

The Novel and Nation Making

• Novels include various classes in the novel so that they could be seen to belong to a shared world.

• For example, Premchand’s novels are filled with all kinds of powerful characters drawn from all levels of society such as aristocrats and landlords, middle-level peasants and landless labourers, middle-class professionals and people from the margins of society.
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