Chapter : 5. Novels, Society & History

The Nation and Its History

The Nation and Its History
(i) The history written by colonial historians tended to depict Indians as weak, divided, and dependent on the British. People educated and working 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. For these people novel provided absolution. It is, the nations could be imagined in a past that also featured historical characters, places, events and dates.
(ii) In Bengal, many historical novels were about Marathas and Rajputs. These people produced a sense of a pan-Indian belonging. They imagined the nation to be full of adventure, heroism, romance and sacrifice – qualities that could not be found in the offices and streets of the nineteenth-century world. Bhudeb Mukhopadhyay's (1827-94) Anguriya Binimoy (1857) was the first historical novel written in Bengal. Its hero Shivaji gets the courage and tenacity from his belief that he is a nationalist, fighting for the freedom of Hindus.
(iii) The imagined nation of the novel was so powerful that it could inspire actual political movements. Bankim's Anandmath (1882) was a novel that inspired many kinds of freedom fighters.
(iv) Many of these novels also reveal the problems of thinking about the nation.
(a) The Novel and Nation Making :
(b) Conclusion :

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