Bengali Literature History – Complete Overview
During the nineteenth century, Bengali literature flourished to a considerable extent. The history of Bengali prose literature really began with the establishment of Fort William College in Calcutta in 1800.
The Christian missionaries of Seram pore under the able guidance and dynamic leadership of William Carey and the Pundits of Fort William College, laid the foundation of Bengali prose.
William Carey composed a grammar of the Bengali language in 1801 and a Bengali-English dictionary in 1815.
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In this context R.C. Majumdar states: On the whole, the importance of Carey’s contribution to the development of Bengali prose is very great indeed. As such Bengali literature is most popular.
On the other hand, Raja Ram Mohan Roy was active in running Bengali newspapers meant for the common people. Social, religious and political reforms were the themes that dominated his writings.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy is regarded as the father of modem Bengali prose. Yet another Bengali prose writer was Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar who profusely used Sanskrit words in place of Persian words and thus purified the Bengali prose.
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Among the other notable prose writers who enriched Bengali prose were Maharishi Debendranath Tagore, Keshab Chandra Sen and Pandit Shibanath Shastri etc. who made great contributions.
History of Growth of Bengali Drama and Novel:
Bankim Chandra Chatterjee was a novelist of high caliber. One of his famous novels is Anant Math which contains the national song of India,”Vande Mataram” .
This novel earned great fame because of its patriotic fervor. Among other distinguished novelists were Sanjib Chandra, Ramesh Chandra Datta, Smt. Svarna Kumari Ghosal, Pandit Shibanath Shastri and Tarachandra Ganguli etc.
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In the field of drama, Michael Madhusudan Datta was a versatile genius. He produced rich Bengali dramatic literature.
His historical drama entitled “Krishna Kumari” was a work of high order. Yet another Bengali playwright was Dinabandhu Mitra whose famous drama was “Niladarpana”. which is very popular.
Among the famous playwrights were Jyotirindranath Tagore and Girls Chandra Ghose etc.
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History of Growth of Bengali Poetry:
The greatest name in modern India and modern Bengal is Rabindra Nath Tagore who was a versatile genius. His creative output. is astonishing. His short devotional verses entitled “Gitanjali” (1910) earned world wide fame and won for him the Noble Prize for literature in 1913.
Indeed the award of the Nobel Prize to Tagore was a monumental occasion for Indians. Rabindra Nath Tagore wrote “Jana Gana Mana” in praise of King George V which is now national anthem of India.
Today, Bengali literary renaissance is characterized by revolutionary spirit which challenges the outmoded and bad social customs and the glaring economic inequalities in society.
Now more than 7 crore people speak Bengali and it is official language of Bangladesh Sonar Bangla of 15 crore people, who have produced lot of Bengali literature.