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Munshi Premchand

Munshi Premchand (July 31, 1880 - October 8, 1936) was one of the greatest literary figures of modern Hindi and Urdu literature. Premchand ,whose original name was Dhanpat Rai Srivastava, was born on 31 July 1880, in village Lamahi near Varanasi, where his father was a clerk in the post office. Premchand's parents died young - his mother when he was seven and his father while he was fourteen and still a student. Premchand was left responsible for his step-mother and step-siblings. Early in life, Premchand faced immense poverty. He earned five rupees a month tutoring a lawyer's child. He was married at the early age of fifteen but that marriage failed, later he married again, to Shivrani Devi, a balavidhava, (child widow), and had several children, she supported him through life struggles.

Writing style

The main characteristic of Premchand's writings is his interesting story-telling and use of simple language. His novels describe the problems of the rural peasant classes. He avoided the use of highly Sanskritized Hindi (as was the common practice among Hindi writers), but rather he used the dialect of the common people.

Premchand called literature a work that expresses the truths and experiences of life impressively. Presiding over the Progressive Writers' Conference in Lucknow in 1936, he said that attaching the word "Progressive" to writer was redundant, because "A writer or an artist is progressive by nature, if this was not his/her nature, he/she would not be a writer at all."

Before Premchand, Hindi literature was confined to the raja-rani (king and queen) tales, the stories of magical powers and other such escapist fantasies. It was flying in the sky of fantasy, until Premchand brought it on the grounds of reality. Premchand wrote on the realistic issues of the day - communalism, corruption, zamindari, debt, poverty, colonialism etc.

Some criticize Premchand's writings as full of too many deaths and too much of misery. They believe Premchand does not stand anywhere near contemporary literary giants of India - Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay and Rabindranath Tagore. But it should be noted, that many of Premchand's stories were influenced by his own experiences with poverty and misery. His stories represented the ordinary Indian people as they were, without any embellishments. Unlike many other contemporary writers, his works didn't have any "hero" or "Mr. Nice" - they described people as they were.



 

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