Book Review: Godan by Munshi Premchand

Like many other poor peasants Hori too wants to own a cow in a hope to elevate his puny social status to some height of self-importance. Much opposite to his circumstances, he purchases a cow on debt of 80 rupees. However things spiral out of his control when he tries to cheat his younger brother, Heera, by 10 rupees. This haggle causes a huge fight between Dhaniya (Hori’s wife) and Heera’s wife; and then next Heera poisons the cow and escapes away to avoid being caught by the Police.
To settle down the cow’s death matter, Hori takes some loan from a moneylender and bribes the police. On the other hand, Gobar (Hori’s son) has an affair with a widow Jhunia. When Jhunia is pregnant with his child, Gobar runs away to the city to escape the wrath of the villagers. But then Jhunia is taken into care by Hori and his family. Because of Jhunia’s issue, the village Panchayat orders Hori to pay a penalty amount in lieu of his son’s deeds. Thus, Hori again takes the loan from moneylenders.       As the debt increases on his head, Hori marries off his daughter Rupa in a deal of 200 rupees only to save his ancestral land from being auctioned by moneylenders. To pay off the debt Hori works beyond his capacity and eventually dies in the end. His son Gobar manages to lead a tenable life in the city but never could earn to pay off his father’s debt.   Godaan is one of the major hit novels of Munshi Premchand. Apart from Hori and Gobar, the novel also consists of many sub plots i.e. covers the stories from the village’s poorest to the richest of cities. The novel, in depth, discusses the plight of common masses during the pre-independence era, especially of farmers who always found it tough to emerge out of the vicious circle of debt taken from the moneylenders. K. A. Abbas was a

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master at writing short stories, presumably influenced by O. Henry. His work presents a different picture of India and is mainly based on humanity. He was the contemporary writer of that colonial India when the cinema used to run in black and white. Reading K.A. Abbas means exploring the old culture of India. ‘Sparrows’ is a brilliant short story. Once, the story ‘Sparrows’ was conscripted in the world’s best stories along with ‘The Lost Child’, written by Mulk Raj Anand. A bit about Sparrows Rahim Khan, the protagonist, is a stolid figure, almost devoid of emotions. He lives alone and the whole village is fearful of him because he brutally beats children and men on slightest pretexts. With time, he has grown so obtrusive and rough that streaks of humanity have left him. Why is he like that?

During the magnificence of his youth there was no one who could compete with him in the wrestling and other sports. It's his deepest desire to join Circus folk. In addition …

The novel – Untouchable needs no introduction for an Indian reader because its background is well known to him.The very title is a telltale. Humanism, which is the key concept of his novels like Untouchable and Coolie, reveals man’s essential dignity and nobility. According to this approach to man – man is the creative source of infinite possibilities. Mr. Anand is a humanist who reveals the essential dignity of the underdogs of Indian society. Anand in all his novels emphasizes the fact that nobility and dignity are not the monopoly of the rich. The poor have their greatness, honour as well as the richness. This humanism is the central theme of his novels. His humanism justifies that man is man, be he a sweeper, a prince or a coolie.

The novel Untouchable has the confrontation between tradition and modernity. Anand realized that much in the Indian tradition was obsolete and meaningless. Tradition might have its utility when it began as a new practice. But in course of time, it lost…


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