Premchand (or Prem Chand) is a pseudonym; his name was actually Navab or Dhanpat (Dhanpat Rai Shrivastava). One source notes that "Sixty-five years after his death Premchand remains the most outstanding figure in twentieth-century Hindi literature." His novels and short stories firmly established these genres in Hindi, and his more than 300 stories contain his finest work. Poet, novelist and writer of short stories in Hindi as well as Urdu, Premchand was born on 31 July 1880 in the village Lamahi near Benares. According to Wikipedia "He is generally recognized in India as the foremost Hindi-Urdu writer of the early twentieth century."
The beauty of the novels of Premchand is in the plot. I think it is too early to make any judgmental statement on the literary quality of the writings as this is the first novel of Premchand that I read with an academic inclinations. However, I do not want to wait till I read all his novels either. At least I can make some judgements based on the novel that I read.
Vardan is a novel that is set in Varanasi. The story is of three families and two main characters. The hero of the novel is a young person who is the only son of a father, a rich construction contractor who later leaves his wife and only son is search of peace. When the head of the family leaves for Kumbha snan he never comes back. As usual the mother of the hero is a housewife with little knowledge of what her husband has been doing all these days. She was not involved in the nitty-gritty of her husband's entrepreneurial venture. She is lost in the web of the account register of her husband and ultimately gets out of it by selling all her property except the house. To make both ends meet she lends one portion of the house. A family comes to stay in the house. The family had a girl child, only child of her parents, the heroine of the novel. Both the hero and heroine start loving each other. Premchand wrote novel in a different era and love had a different meaning. However, one thing that took me by surprise was one instance when the small girl expresses her desire to marry the actor to his mother. The mother says that the actor is like her brother. The girl boldly asks if she, the mother of the actor, wants to make her daughter-in-law or not? I think this instance was very strong in the novel. I doubt if any writer in that era would have gone to this extent. Even today when love between two small children is mostly perceived as "bhai-behan ka pyar". The use of love has a very different meaning during different stages of life. In the novel it is quite explicit that the love between the hero and the heroine was not 'bhai-behan ka pyar'. I remember that similar kind of confusion has been depicted in one of the novels of Khalil Gibran, in Broken Wings. In that novel too the hero and the heroine love each other and both as brother and sister as well as like two young lover.
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