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Calcutta 1981

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Jean Racine

Bibliographies, Filmography

A Literary Bibliography Calcutta in Bengali Novels

A Tentative Cheklist

Subha Dasgupta

Texte intégral

It is the city of Calcutta which has fostered the growth of modern Bengali Literature. Characteristically, the entire literature of this period, from the nineteenth Century to the present day, is a reflection of the Calcutta's point of view. Although it is true that the city appears as an integrated subject in but a few of the novels, its presence animates and gives an added dimension to many of them which in their tum bring a new definition to the city. We give below a list of a few of the novels where the city is a little more than a background, novels which may help in understanding the different aspects of life in the city.

At a time when novels, as we know the genre today, had not entered the scene, a large number of sketches, fictional in nature, were being written. The description and the pictures of Calcutta that they evoked were one of the finest and the most accurate of all descriptions ever to be presented in Bengali literature. We include the most well-known sketches at the beginning of our list.

Bhabanicharan BANDOPADHYAY, Kalikata Kamalalay, 1823. Through a question-answer sequence between a Calcuttan and a country dweller, a series of descriptions of the city and of city life are presented. In the description of the latter it is mainly the vices of the rich and the middle class that have prominence.

Bhabanicharan BANDOPADHYAY, Nabababubilas, 1853. Sketches depicting the licentious living of the rich young babus of the city.

Pyarichand MITRA, Alaler Gharer Dulal, 1858. The first Bengali novel, it gives us in a racy, colloquial and satirical language some of the most vivid and authentic picture of the middle class in early nineteenth Century Calcutta.

Kaliprasanna SINGHA, Hutom Pyanchar Naksha, 1862. Sketches of mid nineteenth Century Calcutta —its festivals, its society and its way of life.

Bankimchandra CHAKRABORTY, Indira, 1873. A young girl arrives in Calcutta. Her experience in one of the typical rich and conservative families of the city.

Kshetrapal CHAKRABORTY, Chandranath, 1873. A novel showing the moral decadence of the city.

Rabindranath TAGORE, Gora, 1909. (Translation Gora, translated into English by W.W.Pearson. London, Macmillan, 1924). The novel brings forward the educated elite of the city and their views on different socio-political aspects gaining prominence at the time, specially the Brahmo movement and the new consciousness of nationalism. A search for an identity in a new framework of thought.

Premendra MITRA, Pank, 1926. Life in the slums of the city.

Rabindranath TAGORE, Jogajog, 1929. Attempts on the part of the nouveau riche in the city to merge with old time blue-blooded families and the resultant clash.

Premendra MITRA, Michil, 1933. Calcutta after the First World War —some of the Problems of the middle class and a story of the miserable plight of women.

Premendra MITRA, Upanayan, 1934. The rootlessness of the lower middle class in the city after the First World War. Translated in English by Ela Sen, Kaleidoscope, a novel, Purvana, Calcutta, 1945.

Gopal HALDAR, Ekoda, 1938. Interpretations of political viewpoints in the context of the Contemporary urban background.

Bibhutibhusan BANDOPADHYAY, Anubartan, 1942. A school at the Crossing of Wellesley Street and Peter Lane, and the unfortunate plight of school masters in the city.

Tarasankar BANDOPADHYAY, Manwantar, 1944. Calcutta during the Bengal Famine of 1943-44. The influx of people into the city in search of food and the frightful situation that follows. Translated in English by Hirendranath Mukhopadhyay: Epoch's End, Mitralaya., Calcutta, 1945.

Manik BANDOPADHYAY, Saharbaser Itikatha, 1945. The conflicts and contradictions as well as the vast potential of city life shown through the lives of the upper middle and middle classes.

Tarasankar BANDOPADHYAY, Jhar o Jharapata, 1946. A few incidents of the freedom movement in the city and the upheavals in a middle class family.

Nabendu GHOSH, Phears Lane, 1947. Riots in and around Phears Lane.

Manik BANDOPADHYAY, Chinha, 1947. Last stages of the freedom movement and the involvement of students.

Nabendu GHOSH, Kalo Rakto, 1947. The city makes a newcomer, a Student, realize the implications of bondage and of freedom. strengthens him and involves him in the movement.

Buddhadeva BOSE, Tithidor, 1949. A portrait of a middle class family, it also brings a few detailed descriptions of the city. There is a 14-page description of the day of Tagore's death and the funeral procession through the city.

Santoshkumar GHOSH, Kinu Goyalar Goli, 1950. The post Second World War economic crisis and the upheaval of values reflected on the middle class in the city.

Manik BANDOPADHYAY, Swadhinatar Swad, 1951. Communal riots of 1946 in the city and a faith that the solution lay not in any pact signed by political leaders, but in the unity of the working class Hindus and Muslims who were one in their struggle for existence.

Manik BANDOPADHYAY, Sarbajanin, 1952. The Partition and the experience of a Bengali family coming into the city.

Gourkishore GHOSE, Ei Kolkatai, 1952. A few of the different professions and jobs available to an average young man in the city.

Narendranath MITRA, Chenamahal, 1953. A picture of the middle class on the edges of annihilation.

Bimal MITRA, Saheb Bibi Golam, 1953. Several social, political and cultural events in the life of the city through 1757 to 1912, with the focus on the decadent lives of the babus and zamindars in the city.

Santoshkumar GHOSH, Momer Putul, 1954. The Contemporary economic crisis and the falsehood and deceit practised by the affluent.

Jyotirindra NANDI, Baro Ghar Ek Uthan, 1955. A candid record of the lives of the lower middle class and the semi-slum dwellers.

Bimal KAR, Dewal, 3 vols., 1956-62. Experiences in the city before and after independence. Detailed descriptions of different areas of the city.

Kalikananda AVADHOOT, Kolitirtha Kalighat, 1958. A one-time tantric sadhu writes a novel based on legendary and realistic stories of Kalighat.

Dipendranath BANDOPADHYAY, Tritiya Bhuban, 1958. The leftist Student movement in the city in the nineteen fifties and the inherent tensions of their social lives.

Prantosh GHATAK, Akash Patal, 1960. A Zamindar’s family and a portraits of the life of the affluent in the city.

Shyamal GANGOPADHYAY, Aniler Putul., 1962. Portraits of the Contemporary city man wearing different masks of social comformity.

SANKAR (Monisankar MUKHOPADHYAY), Chowringhee, 1962. A famed hotel in the heart of the city and the night life of a certain section of the city dwellers. Vivid sketches of Central Calcutta.

Bimal MITRA, Kari Diye Kinlam, 1962. Certain political and social events before and after independence, the middle class and the erosion of values, and the growth of South Calcutta.

Narendranath MITRA, Mahanagar, 1964. English Translation Mahanagar by S.K. Chatterjee and M.F. Franda, Bombay, Jaico, 1968. A woman in a middle class family goes out to work, and the resultant tensions in the joint family. A few different glimpses of the city.

JUBANASHWA (Manish GHATAK), Pataldangar Panchali, 1965. A presentation of the lives of people living on the lowest echelons of society, the beggars and the pavement-dwellers.

Samaresh BASU, Bibar, 1965. The new generation distrust of all that is held precious by the older generation. Sexual adventures and aimless wanderings.

Bimal KAR, Kerani Parar Kavya, 1966. A representative novel of the vast section of the educated public employed as clerks in different offices.

Sunil GANGOPADHYAY, Atmaprakash, 1966. Various experiences of young men in Calcutta in the nineteen fifties.

Buddhadeva BOSE, Aynar Maddhey Eka, 1968. The struggle of a refugee girl in the city.

Bimal KAR, Jadubamsa, 1968. Sketches of decadence among the unemployed youth in the city.

Asim RAY, Sabder Khanchai, 1968. The shaping of a bourgeois. His progress from the poorer to the more affluent areas in the city, Kuthighata, Lakshmipur, Sealdah, Park Street, and accompanying experiences.

Buddhadeva BOSE, Biponna Bismoy, 1969. A critique of Contemporary urban life from the point of view of a few Student intellectuals.

Moti NANDY, Nayaker Prabesh Prosthan, 1969. The struggle for existence of a very middle class family in one of the typical dark lanes of Calcutta.

Sunil GANGOPADHYAY, Pratidwandi, 1969. English translation Pratidwandi by Enakshi Chatterjee, Orient Longman, New Delhi, 1974. North Calcutta youth in the 1960's characterized by unemployment, cynicism and sporadic bursts of violence.

Sunil GANGOPADHYAY, Arjun, 1970. A refugee colony in Calcutta.

SANKAR (Monisankar MUKHOPADHYAY), Seemabaddha, 1970. Executives of commercial houses and their empty lives with intermittent glimpses of other profiles of the city.

Baren GANGOPADHYAY, Nisith Pheri, 1970. An unemployed youth turns into an extremist. His fears, the sights and sounds of old lanes shops and of Howrah station.

Gourkishore GHOSE, Gariahat Bridger Upor Theke, Dujoney, 1972. An exposition of empty middle class values through different social customs and a simultaneous presentation of the everyday problems of the city —transport, electricity, housing Problems and so on.

Samaresh BASU, Bijorita, 1974. A confrontation between representatives of the establishment and the rebellious youth in the city.

Mahasweta DEVI, Hazar Churasir Ma, 1975. The Naxalite movement in the city, the involvement of a boy from an upper class family and the reactions of his family.

SANKAR (Manisankar MUKHOPADHYAY), Nagarnandini, 1976. Problems of single working women in the city.

Chanakya SEN, Late Sati Das Kalikatai Benchey Achen, 1976. Middle class mores and the inherent character traits of the urban Bengali related to the declining economy of the city.

Sirsendu MUKHOPADHYAY, Shaola, 1977. From the slums and refugee colonies of Jadavpur emerges a typical group of young ruffians, some of whom become extremists in the fields of politics. But gradually the extremist becomes a disinterested outsider.

Subhas MUKHOPADHYAY, Yasiner Kolkata, 1978. Calcutta from the point of view of a young boy, a pavement-dweller who has also fallen in love with the city.

Deves ROY, Swami-Stree, 1978. Experiences of the city during the Naxalite movement.

Ramanath ROY, Chobir Sangey Dekha, 1980. The city portrayed through sequences of dream and reality.

Samaresh BASU, Jug Jug Jeeya, 1981. The beginnings of the communist movement in the city in 1948.

Amalendu CHAKRABORTY, Ghosthabeharir Jeebonjapan, 1981. The life of a middle class city dweller reduced solely to the daily occupation of living.

Samaresh MAJUMDAR, Kalbela, 1982. A young boy comes to the city to study and is gradually drawn into the Naxalite movement.

Sunil GANGOPADHYAY, Shei Shomoy, 1982. A novel with a historical background sketching some of the important events and the famed figures of nineteenth Century Calcutta.

Saibal MITRA, Dewaler Likhon, 1982. Calcutta during the middle of the nineteen sixties. Different radical groups and their viewpoints amidst the disturbed politicai atmosphere of the city.

© Institut Français de Pondichéry, 1990

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