Chapter : 5. Novels, Society & History

Novels in the Colonial World

Novels in the Colonial World
The history of the novel in different parts of India had many regional peculiarities, but there were also recurring patterns and common concerns.
(a) Uses of the Novel :
(i) Colonial administrators found 'vernacular' novels a valuable source of information on native life and customs. Such information was useful for them in governing Indian society, with its large variety of communities and castes. The new novels in Indian languages often had descriptions of domestic life. Some of these books were translated into English, often by British administrator or Christian missionaries.
(ii) Indians for e.g. Viresalingam, used the novel as a powerful medium to criticise what they considered defects in their society and to suggest remedies.
(iii) Novels also helped in establishing a relationship with the past. Through glorified accounts of the past, these novels helped in creating a sense of national pride among their readers. Novels also helped in creating a sense of collective belonging on the basis of one's languages.
(iv) With the coming of novels, language variations entered the world of print for the first time. The way characters spoke in a novel began to indicate their region, class or caste. Thus novels made their readers familiar with the ways in which people in other parts of their land spoke their language.

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