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Published: 2nd Apr, 2021


  • India is a land of literature. It has always been so since times immemorial.
  • When one takes stock of the history of human societies and civilisations, this is one area where India will be on top by some distance over other civilisations and societies.
  • One hallmark of Indian literature over the past 3000 years or so is diversity. One will be surprised to see the variety of works of literature that have been produced in the sub-continent.
  • The key to this diversity is the linguistic density of the Indian sub-continent and the willingness to absorb all wonderful things from any language or culture that people came across.
  • Coming to modern times, in the late 19th and early 20th century many writers across the languages tried to emulate their Western counterparts, especially when it came to stories and novels.
  • That is no surprise given the amount of success these two genres had in the West. The same period and up to 1947 saw the emergence of a unique type of literature independence literature. Almost all the genres, especially prose and poetry writings, focused more or less on patriotic fervour.
  • In the first two decades after the Indian independence, when the country was coming to terms with the devotement and modernity, many poems, stories, novels and plays in many languages focused on the rural landscape, bringing out the travails of agrarian societies. Exceptions were there, but predominantly, this was the mood.
  • Then came the phase in which Indian literature evolved into something new. For the next three decades came the stories and novels highlighting new problems that society faced - labour unsettling, problems faced by women going for jobs, urban legends and so on. In fact, this period also witnessed the evolution of Indian cinema and many were inspired by the stories and novels.
  • Indian literature always had its own, unique style from the beginning. Contrary to the popular perception twenty years ago, Indian literature did not go the Western way and taking up of Mythology in a significant way in many languages and presenting the same to suit the sensibilities of the 21st century is one example.

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