(* ‘Bengali’ is an anglicized form of the native authentic name of the language: ‘Bangla’)
Bangla Literature dates back to at least the 7th century and may be divided into three main periods: ancient, medieval, and modern. The different periods may be dated as follows: ancient period from 650-1200, medieval period from 1200-1800, and the modern period from 1800 to the present. The medieval period may again be divided into three periods: early medieval-also known as the period of transition- from 1200-1350; high medieval from 1350-1700, including the pre-Chaitanya period from 1350-1500 and the Chaitanya period from 1500-1700; and late medieval from 1700-1800. The modern period begins in 1800 and can again be divided into six phases: the era of prose from 1800-1860, the era of development from 1860-1900, the phase of Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) from 1890-1930, the post-Rabindranath phase from 1930 to 1947, the post-partition phase from 1947 to 1970, and the Bangladesh phase from 1971 to the present.
Ancient period : The conquest of Bengal by the Mauryas in the 3rd century BC led to the spread of Aryan languages in the Bengal delta. The Bangla Language, however, developed from Prakrit, through Apabhrangsha and Abahattha and outside the direct influence of Aryan languages. The earliest extant specimens of ancient Bangla are the 47 spiritual hymns now known as Charyapada composed by Buddhist monks. Because the language of these hymns is only partly understood, it is called Sandhya or twilight language. The Charyapada hymns possess both linguistic and literary value. The Siddhacharya, or composers of the Charyapada hymns, include Luipa, Bhusukupa, Kahnapa and Shavarpa.
Early medieval: Period of transition (1201-1350) : The anecdotes, rhymes and sayings of Dak and Khana may be dated to this period. The Apabhramsa of the Charyapada became more Bangla in character. Among the specimens of this period is Ramai Pandit's narrative poem Shunyapurana (13th-14th century). Another example of early Bangla is a collection of lyrical poems in Apabhramsa entitled Prakrtapaingala. A Bangla song has also been found in Halayudh Mishra's Sanskrit book Shekhashubhodaya (c 1203).
High medieval: Pre-Chaitanya period (1350-1500) : During this period, Bangla literature developed in three main areas: Vaisnava literature, Mangala literature and translation literature. This period also saw the beginning of Muslim Bangla literature in the form of romantic and narrative poems.
The greatest of Vaishnava writers was the poet Baru Chandidas (14th century) who rendered Jaydev's Sanskrit lyrics about Radha and Krishna into Bangla. The names of several poets who went by the name of Chandidas have been found in the Middle Ages: Adi Chandidas, Kavi Chandidas, Dvija Chandidas and Dina Chandidas. The confusion about whether there were one or several poets called Chandidas is known in Bangla literature as the 'Chandidas riddle'. Chandidas has been credited with over a thousand lyrics. The introduction to Srikrishnakirtan edited by Basantaranjan Ray Vidvadvallabh and published in 1916 by Vangiya Sahitya Parishad mentions the name of Baru Chandidas. He was perhaps the original Chandidas who composed verses in 1350.
The patronage provided by the Muslim rulers, particularly Sultan Alauddin Hussein Shah, his son Nasrat Shah and commander-in-chief, Paragal Khan, in promoting Bangla literature is specially noteworthy. The 45-year rule of the Hussein Shah dynasty (1493-1538) in Bengal not only led to political, social and cultural prosperity, but also nurtured Bangla Language and literature. It was during the rule of Hussein Shah that some Bengali poets began composing lyrics in Brajabuli. It was also during his rule that Kanka wrote Vidyasundar Kahini in praise of SATYA PIR (c 1502).
Padavali or lyrical literature : Padavali and other medieval lyrics were based on the story of Radha and Krishna and were written by innumerable poets, Hindu and Muslim, including some women poets. Among the padavali poets were Chandidas, Jnanadas, Lochandas, Govindadas, Rayshekhar, Shashishekhar, Balaram Das, Narottam Das, Narahari Das and Radhamohan Thakur.
Translated literature : Maladhar Basu composed Srikrsnavijay, a free translation of the Sanskrit Shrimadbhagavata. The poem is also known as Govindamangal or Govindavijay and is believed to be the earliest translation work in Bangla. Several poets translated the Sanskrit Bhagavata, Ramayana and Mahabharata into Bangla during this period. Krittivas Ojha (15th century) was the first to translate the Ramayana into Bangla. He was followed by several other poets. In the 17th century, Chandravati, daughter of Dwija Bansidas, the composer of Manasamangal, wrote Ramayanagatha. The first Bangla version of the Mahabharata was possibly Kavindra Parameshwar's Mahabharata or Kavindra Mahabharata (1525). Sanjay and Shrikar Nandi also wrote versions of the Mahabharata. Popularly, the most important Bangla Mahabharata was, however, composed by Kashiram Das around 1602-10. It is probable, however, that other poets also contributed towards the final version that was printed at Serampore Press in 1801-3. Because of its refined language and feelings of devotion, this version became more popular than other Bangla versions.
Mangalkavya : The oldest of the extant mangalkavyas is Manasamangal, by Vijay Gupta, composed perhaps in 1494-95. According to the bhanita, or signature piece, Vijay Gupta was a resident of the village of Fullasri in Barisal. Vijay Gupta's contemporary, Bipradas Pipilai, also wrote a poem on Manasa titled Manasavijay (c 1494). Another version of Manasamangal is Narayan Dev's Padmapurana. These narrative lyrics describe the greatness of the gods and goddesses, but also provide vivid pictures of a land oppressed on the one hand by kings and on the other by floods, famines, epidemics, snakes, and tigers. Another important genre of mangalkavya is Chandimangal. Its first composer, Manik Datta, perhaps belonged to the pre-Chaitanya era. He was followed by the poet Madhavacharya towards the end of the 16th century. Two other famous poets of Chandimangal were Mukundaram Chakravarti and Dvija Madhav.
Muslim Bangla literature : The poems written by Muslims during the Middle Ages can be divided into 6 groups: narrative poems (based on Muslim and Indian stories), religious poems, poems on cultural links, dirges, poems on astrology and poems on musicology.
The greatest contribution of the Muslims to Bangla literature during this period was, however, the introduction of narrative and romantic poems, many of them being free translations or adaptations of Arabic or Persian romances.
Shah Muhammad Sagir (c 1400) was one of the earliest of the Bengali Muslim poets. Though his romance Yusuf-Zulekha contains no signature piece identifying him, he is generally regarded as being from East Bengal as copies of his poems have been found in the Chittagong-Comilla-Tripura region. Other epic poets include Jainuddin, Muzammil, Sheikh Faizullah, Daulat Uzir Bahram Khan. Jainuddin became famous with Rasulbijay, his only epic. Muzammil became famous mainly for his three poetic works: Nitishastravarta, Sayatnama and Khanjancharita.
Donagazi's Saifulmuluk Badiuzzamal (mid-16th century) is written in simple language and reveals the influence of Prakrit. Sheikh Faizullah occupies an important place among the Muslim poets of the medieval period with Goraksavijay, Gazivijay, Satyapir (1575), Zainaber Chautisha and Ragnama. Goraksavijay, which is based on Kavindra's poem, is in two parts. Part one describes how Gorakhnath rescued his guru, Minanath, while part two describes the ascetic life of King Gopichandra. Zainaber Chautisa narrates the sad story of Karbala in the form of Zainab's lament. Daulat Uzir Bahram Khan's only extant work, Laily-Majnu, evidently composed between 1560 and 1575, is a thematic translation of the Persian poet Zami's Laily-Majnu.
Several Muslim poets were influenced by Vaisnavism, among them Chand Kazi (15th century), and Afzal Ali (17th century). Chand Kazi was the Kazi of Nabadwip under Sultan Hussein Shah (1493-1519) when Vaishnavism spread to Nabadwip. Afzal Ali's Nasihatnama is composed in the Vaishnava style.
Other medieval Muslim poets include Syed Sultan (c 1550-1648, Nabi Bangsha, Shab-i-Miraj, Rasulbijay, Ofat-i-Rasul, Jaykum Rajar Ladai, Iblisnama, Jnanachautisha, Jnanapradip, marfati gan, padavali), Sheikh Paran (c 1550-1615, Nurnama, Nasihatnama), Haji Muhammad (c 1550-1620, Nur Jamal, Suratnama), Nasrullah Khan (c 1560-1625, Janganama, Musar Sawwal, Shariatnama, Hidayitul Islam), Muhammad Khan (c 1580-1650, Satya-Kali-Vivad-Sangbad, Hanifar Ladai, Maktul Husein), Syed Martuza (c 1590-1662, Yog-Kalandar, padavali), Sheikh Muttalib (c 1595-1660, Kifayitul-Musallin), Mir Muhammad Shafi (c 1559-1630, Nurnama, Nurkandil, Sayatnama), Abdul Hakim (c 1620-1690, Lalmati-Sayfulmulk, Nurnama). Poets who composed between 1600 and 1757 include Nawajis Khan, Qamar Ali, Mangal (Chand), Abdul Nabi, Muhammad Fasih, Fakir Garibullah, Muhammad Yakub, Sheikh Mansur, Muhammad Uzir Ali, Sheikh Sadi and Heyat Mamud. Syed Sultan's Nabibamsa, Muhammad Khan's Maktul Husein and Sheikh Chand's Rasulbijay are known as Islamic Puranas.
Chaitanya era (1500-1700) : Sri Chaitanya not only introduced the Gaudiya school of Vaishavism in Bengal, but also inspired a powerful group of writers to write biographies about him, among them Govindadas Karmakar's Govindadaser Kadacha, Jayananda's Chaitanyamangal (end of the 16th century), Brndabandas' Chaitanyabhagavat (1573), Lochandas' (1523-1589) Chaitanyamangal and KRISHNADASA KAVIRAJA's Chaitanya Charitamrita (1615). Several other biographies were also written about Chaitanyadev's followers including Narahari Chakravarti's Bhaktiratnakar (biographies of Chaitanya followers) Nityananda Das' Premavilas (biographies of Shrinivas, Narottam and Shyamananda) and Ishan Nagar's Advaitaprakash (1568-69). Chaitanyacharitamrta is considered to be the best biography of Chaitanyadev. This scholarly book contains his life story, his philosophy and devotion, all expressed in simple language. Jayananda's Chaitanyamangal contains many interesting facts of the period, for example, how the Hindus were learning Persian and wearing Muslim outfits.
Bangla literature in Arakan : Towards the end of the Middle Ages, there was considerable cultivation of Bangla literature in the independent and semi-independent states on the borders of Bengal. Arakan became a tributary state of Gaud in 1430. For the subsequent 200 years the rulers of Arakan patronised Bangla language and literature. Among those who wrote Poetry in Bangla under the patronage of the Arakan court was Daulat Qazi (about 1600-1638) whose Satimayna O Lorchandrani was the first Bangla romance. Daulat Qazi was unable to complete the poem which was later completed by Alaol (c 1607-1680). Apart from Padmavati, believed to be his finest poem, Alaol also wrote Saifulmulk Badiuzzamal, a Bangla rendering of a Persian narrative about the romance of prince Saifulmulk and the fairy princess Badiuzzamal. Arakan's other poets include Maradan (about 1600-1645) who wrote Nasirnama, and Quraishi Magan Thakur who wrote Chandravati, a fairy-tale narrative.
Late Medieval period (1700-1800) : The close of the medieval period was in many ways a period of decline. The decline of the Mughal Empire, the inroads of the European trading powers and the establishment of the British halted the natural flow of literary creation.
However, the tradition of Vaishnava literature, mangalkavya, and translation work continued. There was a great deal of influence of both the Hindu Puranas and Islamic thoughts. The main literary productions of the period include padavali and mangalkavya.
Padavali : Padavali writers in the 18th century include Narahari Chakravarti, Natavar Das, Dinabandhu Das, Chandrashekhar-Shashishekhar and Jagadananda. Their poems were, however, more full of ornamentation than meaning.
Mangalkavya : Versions of Chandimangal continued to be composed, an important version being that by Ramchandra Yati written 1766-67. Interest also grew in Dharmamangal, with several poets, including Ghanaram Chakravarti, Narasingha Basu, Manikram Ganguli, Ramkanta Ray and Sahadev Chakravarti, writing different versions. Mangalkavyas also started being composed about new deities, for example, Suryamangal, Gangamangal, Shitalamangal, Laksmimangal, Sasthimangal and Sarasvatimangal. Special mention may be made of Durgadas Mukherjee's Gabgabhaktitarabgini.
Bharatchandra, perhaps the greatest poet of the 18th century, wrote Nagastak and Gangastak in Sanskrit and, in Bangla, Satyanarayaner Panchali, Rasamanjari as well as Annadamangal. Annadamangal contains eight episodes and three parts: Shivayan-Annadamangal, Vidyasundar-Kalikamangal and Mansingha-Annapurnamangal. The character of Annada links the different parts although the main story is how Bhavananda's fortunes were transformed through Annada's blessings. Bharatchandra had originally planned to write an epic on the model of Kavikankan's Shrishrichandimangal, but, bowing to the taste of the 18th century and the desire of Raja Krishnachandra Roy, he turned it into the story of Vidyasundar. As a result, Bharatchandra's poem is a mangalkavya only in form. Although the poet was himself inclined towards Vaishnavism, he presented the deities as fun-loving human beings. Annadamangal influenced later poets in many ways; the poets of Kalikamangal copied it extensively.
Ramprasad and others : In the artificial atmosphere of an age of decline, Ramprasad Sen (1721-1781) was an exception because of his sincere devotionalism and simplicity of language. Although he was reputed for his Shaktapadavali, he also wrote Vidyasundarkahini and Krsnakirtan. In the songs of Ramprasad the fierce Kali turned into a kindly mother. Some other poets of this genre were Radhakanta Mishra (perhaps the first poet of Kolkata), Kavindra Chakravarti and Nidhiram Acharya of Chittagong.
Folklore : An important part of 18th century literature was oral literature, the main theme of which was love. Because this literature was unwritten it kept on changing, right up to the 19th century. In much folklore the main role is played by a woman. The most important folkore collections are Maimansingha Gitika by Dinesh Chandra Sen and Purbabanga-Gitika by Chandrakumar De.
Modern period (1800- ) : The modern period of Bangla literature is usually dated from the foundation of Fort William College in 1800. The distinguishing features of Bangla literature of this period were: (a) the rise and development of powerful prose literature; (b) the influence of Sanskrit scholars on prose during the first half of the 19th century; (c) the influence of western literature; (d) the diversification of subjects; (e) the rise of periodical literature; (f) the elevation of colloquial language to the status of a literary language; (g) the development of new poetic genres. The writers of this period were inspired by the ideal of creating a universal, eternal and independent literature. There was also at this time a growing awareness that literature greatly influenced national life and that it was the finest measure of national character.
The modern period may be divided into six phases. In the first phase (1800-1850), the era of prose, Christian missionaries and Sanskrit scholars ushered in modernism through their prose writing. In the second phase, the era of development (1850-1900), Bengali writers, influenced by the west, created novels and poems that have stood the test of time. The third phase, the era of Rabindranath Tagore (1890-1930), was dominated by the poet, and, although shorter, was prolific. The very short fourth phase, the post-Rabindranath Tagore phase (1930-1947), from the era of Rabindranath Tagore to the partition of India, is regarded as a separate phase outside the Tagore influence. The fifth phase, the post-partition phase (1947-1970), saw the political division of Bengal and the bifurcation of Bangla literature into the literature of West Bengal and the literature of East Bengal/East Pakistan. The six and latest phase is the Bangladesh phase.
Modern period: The era of prose (1800-1860) Bangla prose writing developed in the 18th century mainly for adminstrative and proselytising purposes. The first Bangla books were those by Christian missionaries. Dom Antonio's Brahmin-Roman-Catholic-Sangbad, for example, was the first Bangla book to be printed towards the end of the 17th century. The foreign rulers also felt the need to learn Bangla, leading to the compilation of dictionaries and the writing of books of grammar. The Portuguese missionary Manoel da Assumpcam's bilingual dictionary, Vocabolario em idioma Bengalla, e Portuguez dividido em duas partes, was printed in Roman script from Lisbon in 1743. Nathaniel Brassey Halhed wrote the first Bangla Grammar, A Grammar of Bengal Language (1776), to help the English learn Bangla. The book was printed in 1778 from Hughli Press, and Bangla Script was used in its examples and quotations. For administrative purposes law books in Bangla were needed. This is why a number of law books were translated and published at this time. Forster became well known particularly for his Cornwallis Code (1793) and Shabdakos (1799). Although these are not original works, they give an idea of the nature of Bangla prose in the 18th century.
William Carey (1761-1834) came to Bengal for missionary work but became famous as the pioneer of Bangla prose. In 1800 he published Mathi Rachita Mangal Samachar, a Bangla translation of the Bible, from Serampore Mission. He later joined Fort William College and devoted himself to writing textbooks. Fort William College had been established in Kolkata in May 1800 to prepare English civil servants for their administrative duties. One of their subjects was the local language. However, the absence of proper Bangla texts posed considerable difficulties. A team of Bangla scholars led by Carey accordingly began writing textbooks in Bangla. This is how a planned form of Bangla language developed. Other scholars who helped the development of Bangla prose were Ramram Basu, Golaknath Sharma, Mrityunjay Vidyalankar, Tarini Charan Mitra, Rajib Lochon Mukhopadhyay, Chandicharan Munshi and Haraprasad Roy.
Textbooks : Although Fort William College helped develop Bangla prose through the preparation of Bangla textbooks, later textbooks were written at the initiative of Calcutta School-Book Society (established 1817). Some of its main writers were Ram Comul Sen (1783-1844), Radhakanta Deb (1783-1867), and Tarinicharan Mitra (1772-1837). Most of their books were didactic. Other textbooks were written by teachers of Serampore College, including Felix Carey (1786-1822), John Clark Marshman, and John Mack. Some Bangla writers of the time such as Krishna Mohan Banerji (1813-1885) also wrote textbooks.
While these textbooks were concerned with subject matter rather than with the literary quality of writing, they form a valuable addition to Bangla prose writing. By constructing a language that could communicate modern ideas to Bengali readers, they helped develop Bangla prose, often by acquiring words and terms from other languages.
Raja Rammohan Roy (1772/4-1833) also contributed to the further development of Bangla prose. Some of his well-known books are translations: Vedanta Grantha (1815), Vedantasar (1815), Kenopanisad (1816) and Ishopanisad (1816). His original books include Bhattacharyer Sahit Vichar (1817), Gosvamir Sahit Vichar (1817), Sahamaran Virodhi Pustika, Sahamaran Visay (1828), Gaudiya Vyakaran (1833) etc. The main themes of these books are religious and didactic.
Many of Rammohan's attempts at reform were opposed by people such as Mrityunjay Vidyalankar, Radhakanta Deb, Ramkamal Sen, Kashinath Tarkapanchanan, Bhabanicharan Bandyopadhyay (1787-1848), and primarily the Christian missionaries of Serampore. Rammohan's supporters included Ramchandra Vidyavagish, Prince Dwarkanath Tagore (1794-1846), Prasannakumar Thakur, Tarachand Chakravarti (1806-1857), Chandrashekhar Dev, Gourikanta Bhattacharya, Gouramohan Vidyalankar, and Rev. Krishna Mohan Banerji. The propaganda war between Rammohan's supporters and opponents generated writings, later nicknamed 'Dvairath Dvandva' or combat between two charioteers, which fed the periodical journals and the newspapers, at the time the most important medium of Bangla prose.
The development of Bangla periodicals and newspapers : The appearance of Bangla periodicals and newspapers in the second decade of the 19th century helped create and develop Bangla prose. The missionaries of Serampore published the first Bangla journal, Masik Digdarshan (April 1818). Other well-known regular and irregular periodicals published between 1818 and 1831 include Samachardarpan (1818), edited by John Clark Marshman; Sambad Kaumudi (1821), edited by Tarachand Dutta and Bhabanicharan Bandyopadhyay; Samachar Chandrika (1822), by Bhabanicharan Bandyopadhyay; and Bangadut (1829) by Neelmoni Halder. An important role was also played by the mouthpiece of the Brahma Samaj, Tattvabodhini Patrika, which appeared in 1843 and which was edited by Akshay Kumar Datta for 12 years. Other who contributed to it were Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar (1820-1891), Debendranath Tagore (1817-1905), Rajnarayan Basu (1826-1899), Dwijendranath Tagore (1840-1926). The journal significantly furthered the literary efforts of Bengalis.
The rise of the Bangla novel : Pary Chand Mitra (1814-1883) and Kali Prasanna Singho (1840-1870) were the first Bangla novelists. Pary Chand Mitra was a fine essayist, writing on a variety of varied subjects. However, he also wrote the first Bangla novel, Alaler Gharer Dulal (1858). Using the pen name of 'Tekchand Thakur', he used Chalita Bhasa or colloquial language to narrate his story of Bengal society. His language, the common people's language with its mixture of Arabic, Persian and Hindustani vocabulary, was fondly called 'alali prose'.
Kali Prasanna Singho brought Bangla even closer to people by using the colloquial language of Kolkata and its surrounding areas in his writings. The language used by him in his novel Hutom Pyanchar Naksha (1862), depicting the social life of Kolkata, was more refined than that used by Peary Chand. His language, called 'hutomi', considerably influenced Bangla prose during the next century.
The development of Sadhu Bhasha : The principal architect of 19th century Bangla prose was Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar. Writing textbooks and articles, Vidyasagar developed a form of Sadhu Bhasa or formal prose that influenced future writers.
Among other writers who contributed to the development of prose was Bhudev Mukhopadhyay (1827-94), who wrote on society, education, history, science, and religion. One of the prominent scholars of the time, Rajendralal Mitra (1822-1891), used to write mostly in English but also contributed in Bangla to the monthly journals Vividhartha Sanggraha (1851), Rahasyasandarva (1851) and Vividhartha Sanggraha Sandarva (1863). In 1852 Rangalal Banerjee (1827-1887) published the first Bangla book of literary criticism. Rajnarayan Basu wrote on a variety of subjects in Sekal Ar Ekal (1874), Hindu College Athaba Presidency College-er Brttanta (1876), Bangala Bhasa O Sahitya Bisayak Baktrta (1878) and Atmacharita. Ramgati Nyayaratna (1831-1894) wrote the first detailed history of Bangla literature (1872, 1873) in Bangala Bhasa O Bangala Sahitya Bisayak Prastab.
Modern Period: The era of development (1860-1900) The first modern Bangla novelist was Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay whose fourteen novels include Durgeshnandini, Kapalkundala, Krishnakanter Will, Bisbrksa and Ananadamath. Drawing upon history as well as contemporary life, Bankimchandra wrote novels with well-developed plots and characters that continue to be eminently readable. He also edited a literary monthy, Bangadarshan (1872).
Other significant writers of the time include Bankimchandra's elder brother Sanjeeb Chunder Chattopadhyay (1834-1889) who also was well known for his novels as well as Palamau, an excellent travel story. Another writer of merit was Romesh Chundr Dutt (1848-1909), who wrote historical novels. Rabindranath's elder sister Swarna Kumari DevI (1855-1932) wrote novels as well as poems and plays. Her social novels reflect the moral conflicts of contemporary society. She also edited Bharati. Trailokyanath Mukhopadhyay (1847-1919) wrote a wide range of entertaining stories for both young and old. He wrote four novels and four books of Short Stories. Indranath Bandyopadhyay (1849-1922) wrote satirical sketches and novels. Some other established prose writers of the time were Pratapchandra Ghosh (1845-1921), Shibnath Shastri, Chandrashekhor Mukhopadhyay (1849-1911), Haraprasad Shastri (1853-1931), Damodar Mukhopadhyay, Shrishchandra Majumdar and Nagendranath Gupta (1861-1940).
Essay writing : This genre was initiated by Bhudev Mukhopadhyay and reached its zenith at the hands of Bankimchandra. It was enriched by Bhudev Mukhopadhyay's thoughtful essays on a variety of subjects. Some of his works in this genre include Bijnan Rahasya (1875), Vividha Samalochana (1876) and Krishnacharitra (1886). Other essayists include Bankim's elder brother Sanjeeb Chunder who wrote Jatra-Samalochana (1875) and Balyabibaha (1882) and Dwijendranath Tagore who wrote on linguistics. Other essayists include Troilokyanath Sanyal (1840-1916), Bandhab (1874), Kaliprosanna Ghosh (1843-1910), Chandranath Basu (1844-1910), Ramdas Sen (1845-1887) Shibnath Shastri, Purnachandra Basu, Chandrashekhor Mukhopadhyay (1849-1922) and Haraprasad Shastri.
Bengali Muslim writers : For a considerable period, Bengali Muslim poets had made no significant contribution to literature. They accepted neither Company rule nor the modern ways of the British. While the 'Young Bengalis' were emulating western ways, the Muslims were agitating against the British.
Following a change in their political attitude, middle-class Bengali Muslim writers emerged in the 19th century. Prominent among them were Mir Mosharraf Hossain (1847-1912), Moulvi Mohammad Naimuddin (1832-1907), Dad Ali (1852-1936), Kaikobad (1857-1951), Sheikh Abdur Rahim, Reazuddin Ahmad Mashadi, Mozammel Huq, Munshi Muhammad Reazuddin Ahmad (1862-1933), Moulvi Mearajuddin Ahmad (1852-1929), Munshi Muhammad Zamiruddin (1870-1930), Abdul Hamid Khan Yusufzai (1864-1924) and Maulana Mohammad Moniruzzaman Islamabadi (1875-1950). Mir Mosharraf Hossain wrote nearly 30 books including novels, plays, Satire, poetry, musical plays, and essays. His best known writing is, however, Bisad-Sindhu, based on the incidents at Karbala.
Mozammel Huq wrote both prose and poetry. His poetry was inspired by the idea of a Muslim renaissance. However, he excelled in writing prose, including biographies and novels. He also translated Persian works into Bangla, including the first part of Shahnama. The first Bangla biography of Prophet Muhammad (Sm) was written by Sheikh Abdur Rahim. Pandit Reazuddin Ahmad Mashadi wrote Samaj Sangskarak, which was, however, banned by the government soon after publication for its revolutionary content.
The era of Michael Madhusudan Dutt : Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1824-1873) began writing in English but soon moved to writing in Bangla. Influenced by his English readings, he used blank verse and the sonnet form to write his poems. His epic, Meghnadbadh Kavya (1861), combines an eastern subject with western techniques and style. Sometime after writing Meghnadbadh, Madhusudan left for Europe where he started writing sonnets. These were published in 1866 as' Chaturddashpadi Kavitavali'. He is also credited with having written the first true tragedy in Bangla.
Madhusudan was followed by Hemchandra Banerjee (1838-1903) and Nabinchandra Sen (1847-1909), who were inspired by nationalism and Hinduism. Hemchandra's epic Brttrasanghar (1875), based on the Mahabharata, and Nabinchandra's book of poems Palashir Yuddha (1875), reflect their nationalistic feelings. Kaikobad was a Muslim poet who wrote Mahashmashan in the tradition of Hemchandra and Nabinchandra. The misery of the Muslims of the time made him sad, prompting him to write poems on their past glory. The 870-page Mahasmasan was written on the events of the third Panipat war.
Lyrical poems : The new trend of lyric poetry was manifested in Kavigan and Jatra. Tappa (a light classical variety of amorous songs), especially the songs of Nidhu Gupta also known as Nidhubabu became popular during this period. These songs were composed and presented purely for entertainment and therefore were not intended to be of high literary value. These were however somewhat refined later by coposers such as Gonjla Gaen. Kavigan also became popular among the urban people. Some famous poets of this period include Bhola Moira, Anthony Firingee, and Thakur Singh.
Modern lyrical poems : The setter of this trend, Biharilal Chakravarty (1835-1894), became famous for his poetic work Saradamangal (1879). Biharilal's language was simple and spontaneous. Among other poets of the time, Surendranath Majumder (1838-1878) became famous for his poem Mahila. Other poets included Dineshcharan Basu, Debendranath Sen, Akshay Kumar Baral (1860-1919), Rajanikanta Sen (1865-1910), Govindadas (1854-1918), Girindamohini Das (1857-1924), Kamini Roy (1864-1933), Mankumari Basu, Anandachandra Mitra, Govindachandra Roy, Barodacharan Mitra and Dwijendralal Roy.
Modern dramatic literature : Madhusudan Dutt established modernism in Bangla plays as he did in Bangla poetry. He began writing Bangla plays after noticing the paucity of good plays in Bangla. Madhusudan's first play, Sharmistha (1859), was based on the Mahabharata story of Sharmistha-Devayani-Yayati. His second play, Padmavati (1860), was based on a Greek classical story. In this play he also used blank verse for the first time.
Madhusudan also wrote two farces, Ekei Ki Bale Sabhyata and Buda Saliker Ghare Roun (1860), in which he used colloquial language and dialect as well as English and Persian words. But Madhusudan's best play was Krishnakumari (1861), which has been described as the first successful tragedy in Bangla. In writing Krishnakumari, Madhusudan ignored eastern dramatic rules and used western ones.
Madhusudan was followed by Dinabandhu Mitra whose Nildarpan (1860) has considerable historical value as it depicts the merciless exploitation of Bengali farmers by English Indigo traders. The play played a significant role in ending indigo cultivation. Two other playwrights who made sigificant contributions were Dwijendra Lal Roy and Girish Chandra Ghosh (1844-1912).
The first Muslim playwright was Golam Husain whose play Hadjvalani was printed in 1864. It was not a complete play, but rather a string of scenes. Azimuddi's farce, Kadir Mathay Budor Biye (2nd edition 1868), was written at about the same time. Mir Mosharraf Hossain wrote several plays in Bangla, among them Basantakumari (1873), written on the style of Sanskrit plays, and Zamidar-Darpan (1873), depicting the oppression of farmers by the landlords.
Late Muslim writers : In the 1860s the English rulers severely suppressed the Faraizi, Wahabi and other religious and political movements. Towards the end of the century, Munshi Mohammad Meherullah and his disciple, Munshi Muhammad Zamiruddin, launched a movement to make Bengali Muslims aware of their Muslim identity through literary efforts. This movement, known as the 'Sudhakar' movement, was led by Moulvi Mearajuddin Ahmad, Pandit Reazuddin Ahmad Mashadi, Munshi Sheikh Abdur Rahim and Munshi Muhammad Reazuddin Ahmad. They attempted to make Muslims conscious of their Islamic heritage and glorious past by creating literature in their mother tongue Bangla. They also translated some books into Bangla. This led to the creation of a new stream in Bangla literature. Their first publication was Islam Tattva. Thereafter, Sheikh Abdur Rahim and Munshi Muhammad Reazuddin Ahmed published a weekly journal Sudhakar (1889). Though Muslim Bengalis had made an effort to create literature before this movement, there had previously been no concerted effort of this kind. In fact, it was the Sudhakar group that laid the foundation for a distinct stream of Muslim nationalistic literature in Bangla.
The dormant talent of Munshi Mohammad Meherullah (1861-1907) flowered in the wake of severe clashes with Christianity. Of his nine books, Meherul Islam had a puthi-style nat, eulogising Prophet Muhammad (S). Its language was simple and easy but at the same time lucid and elegant. Munshi Muhammad Zamiruddin (1870-1930) converted to christianity and came to be known as Father John Zamiruddin. But when he was defeated in a religious debate, he reconverted to Islam and as Munshi Zamiruddin engaged in propagating Islam. Basically he used his pen in the service of Islam and became quite famous. Sheikh Abdur Rahim (1859-1931) wrote about the Muslim heritage of Bengali Muslims and described the contribution of Islam to human civilisation. His first book was about the life and contribution of the Prophet Muhammad (S): Hazrat Muhammader
Jibancharita O Dharmaniti (1887). He was associated with editing Sudhakar, Mihir, Hafez, Moslem Pratibha, Moslem Hitaisi etc. He wrote thoughtful articles in the Mohammadi. Maulana Moniruzzaman Islamabadi was a political activist, social worker, journalist, litterateur and a good orator. He was more famous for his historical essays. His best literary work was Bharate Mussalman Sabhyata. He earned literary fame through his writings in Mihir and Sudhakar. He later edited and published Soltan and Amir.
Some other Muslim writers of repute were Deen Muhammad Gangopadhyay (1853-1916), Sheikh Abdul Jabbar (1881-1918), Munshi Abdul Latif (1870-1936) and Kazi Akram Hossain (1896-1963). Abdul Latif was a nationalist Congress leader before the partition of India, but nevertheless he became famous for his literary works in the service of Islam and the Muslims. Kazi Akram Hossain became famous for his book Islamer Itihas (1924) but he also made significant contributions in other fields of literature. Mohammad Yakub Ali Chowdhury (1888-1940) was a rare scholar in the Muslim society of the time. His Manab Mukut testified to his depth of knowledge as a philosopher.
Modern period: The Tagore phase (1890-1930) Rabindranath Tagore was an extraordinary man who made major contributions to all genres of Bangla literature. He wrote an immense range of rich and varied forms of poetry, plays, dance dramas, novels, short stories, essays and over two thousand songs. Although he was known as 'Vishvakavi' (world poet) and won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913 for his book of poems Gitanjali, he was also a writer of superb prose, fictional and non-fictional. The volume and variety of his writings, his high ideals, his social commitment, rendered Rabindranath an institution by himself. He dominated Bangla literature for an entire generation and continued to do so long after his death.
The most popular novelist of this period was Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay (1876-1938). His novels depict, with a great deal of lucidity and sympathy, the daily life of the Bengalis, and, above all, the life of the Bengali woman. His novels continue to be popular and have been translated into almost all Indian languages. Many have been turned into cinemas and stage plays.
Other writers of the period include Pramatha Chowdhury (1868-1946), whose essays and linguistic style greatly influenced a group of writers. He established the position of colloquial language in literature and also introduced the format of French short stories in Bangla literature. Probhat Kumar Mukhopadhyay (1873-1932) wrote a number of novels but was at his best at the short story, of which he wrote over a hundred, most of which end with a sudden twist. Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951) was a writer of fine colloquial Bangla prose as evidenced in his autobiographical writings and in his description of aesthetics.
Some other well-known writers of this phase were Jagadishchandra Bose (1858-1937), Ramendrasundar Trivedi, Naresh Chandra Sengupta, Upendranath Gangopadhyay, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Monilal Gangopadhyay, Kedarnath Bandyopadhyay, Khagendranath Mitra, Jagadishchandra Gupta, Jaladhar Sen, Sourindramohan Mukhopadhyay, Nirupama Devi, Prabhavati Devi, Sita Devi, Shanta Devi and Hemendrakumar Roy.
Bangla poetry in Rabindra era : Most of Rabindranath's contemporary poets were overshadowed by him and remained under his influence for over half a century. A number of poets were, however, able to shake off his influence and establish themselves in their own rights. Among these poets were Satyendranath Dutta (1882-1922), Mohitlal Majumder (1888-1952), Kazi Nazrul Islam and Jasimuddin (1902-1976). Satyendranath demonstrated extraordinary ability in creating new poetic metres, and was accordingly called the 'magician of metres'. He was also a sensitive translator.
Mohitlal Majumder paved the way for modernism. Frankly sexual, his love poems celebrate physical love. In idiom and structure, however, his style was classical. Nazrul Islam entered Rabindranath's calm and tranquil sphere like a meteor, celebrating rebellion and common humanity in poetry that could be declamatory, fiery, angry, and lyrical at will. The poem 'Bidrohi', that marked his extrance into poetry, ensured his place in Bangla literature. But he was also a composer and song writer, writing GHazals and love songs, as well as hamd and nat as well as Kirtan. Jasimuddin, called 'Palli Kavi' (rural poet), drew from the tradition of rural Bengal, writing about the joys and sorrows of rustic life in rhythms that were based on folk tunes.
Some other well-known poets of this era were Karunanidhan Bandyopadhyay, Chitta Ranjan Das, Atulprasad Sen, Kalidas Roy, Kumudranjan Mallik, Narendra Dev, Pramathanath Roy Chowdhury, Bijay Chandra Majumder, Mankumari Basu, Jatindramohan Bagchi, Jatindranath Sengupta, Sabitriprasanna Chattopadhyay, Radharani Devi and Umadevi.
Essay literature : Like the other writers of this era, the essayists too were greatly influenced by Rabindranath. The first of the prominent essayists of this phase was Pramatha Chowdhury. Through his journal Sabujpatra, he popularised colloquial Bangla prose, proving through his essays that colloquial language was fit to express both light and serious thoughts. His use of colloquial Bangla also convivced Rabindranath to do the same, resulting in Rabindranath's moving in his later writings from sadhu bhasa to chalita bhasa. Pramatha Chowdhury was also well known as a literary critic.
Ramendrasundar Trivedi was also a fine essayist and was primarily known for his essays on scientific subjects. However, he also wrote essays on philology and grammar, society and politics and philosophy. His philosophical essays reveal a depth of thought and originality despite the simplicity of their language. Balendranath Tagore (1870-1899) was an able literary critic. Abanindranath Tagore was a fine art critic as well as folklorist, writing in Bageshwari Shilpa Prabandhabali and Banglar Vrata about folk art and rituals. Some other well-known essayists of the era were Mohitlal Majumder, Dinesh Chandra Sen, Sureshchandra Samajpati, Panchkari Bandyopadhyay and Shashanka Mohan Sen.
Post-Rabindra phase (1930-1947) (1930-1947) : The anti-imperialist movement that began in Bengal following the First World War and the socialist revolution in Russia also affected Bangla literature. Though Rabindranath was still writing, around 1930 new writers emerged along with new interests. In 1923 Kallol, a literary journal, began publication in Kolkata where these new writers were published. Shanibarer Chithi also provided them indirect support. Two similar journals appeared around this time: Kalikalam in Kolkata in 1926 and Pragati in DHAKA in 1927. The Kallol writers included Buddhadev Bose and Achintya Kumar Sengupta.
Fiction and short stories of the thirties : The appearance of some able litterateurs at this time helped the development of Bangla fiction and short stories. These writers depicted the lives of working people, the problems of human existence, the politics of India, etc. Rajshekhar Basu (1880-1960) was the main architect of satirical short stories in Bangla.
Other famous writers included Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay (1898-1971), and Manik Bandyopadhyay (1908-1956). Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay's work is distinguished by descriptions of the domestic life of rural Bangladesh and its scenic beauty. He analyses human behaviour even as he describes nature's tranquil and charming scenes. His best work was Pather Panchali (1929). Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay was a powerful writer, writing about the lives of simple peasants, boatmen and minstrels of rural Bengal. Expansive and comprehensive, his novels Ganadevata (1942) and Panchagram (1944) bring rural life alive. His short stories also focus on the village.
The novelist and short story writer, Manik Bandyopadhyay, was profoundly influenced by Marxism and by Freudian psychoanalsyis. Putul Nacher Itikatha (1936) and Padmanadir Majhi (1936) reveal his Marxist leanings as they do his psycholgical approach. Premendra Mitra (1904-1988) was an adroit short story writer, using language skilfully to convey his themes and create characters. His stories encompass a variety of subjects ranging from struggle for living to politics and sociology.
Some other powerful novelists and short story writers of the time were Jagadish Gupta, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Balaichand Mukhopadhyay (1899-1979), Pramathanath Bishi (1901-1985), Manoj Basu (1901-1987), Gopal Haldar (1902- ), Achinta Kumar Sengupta (1903-1976), Annadashankar Roy (1904- ), Prabodhkumar Sanyal (1905-1983), Buddhadev Bose, Subodh Ghosh (1909-1980), Gajendrakumar Mitra (1909- ), Bimal Mitra (1912- ), Narayan Gangopadhyay (1918-1970), Moti Nandi (1931- ), Shyamal Gangopadhyay (1933-2001), Sunil Gangopadhyay (1934- ) and Shirsendu Mukhopadhyay (1935- ).
Poetry of the thirties : The social decay that engulfed Europe after the First World War also pervaded the minds of Bengali poets via English literature. Discarding Rabindranath's aesthetic and idealistic perceptions of beauty, love and pleasure in poetry, they espoused urban life. The pioneering role in introducing ultra-modernism in Bangla poetry was played by Achinta Kumar Sengupta, Buddhadev Bose, Premendra Mitra, Jibanananda Das (1899-1954), Sudhindranath Dutta (1901-1960), Bishnu De (1909-1982) and Samar Sen (1916- ). Jibanananda Das was the most powerful poet of this phase. In poetic expressions he allowed himself to be driven by both the intellect and the emotions. He was essentially a poet of nature and drew superb images from the natural world around him.
The complexity of modern poetry is reflected in the works of Sudhindranath Dutta who used complex language and difficult phrases for the purpose. Among Marxist poets were Bishnu De and Samar Sen. Bishnu De's poems were distinctive in syntax, in the use of myths and new Prosody. Samar Sen made the urban environment the basic theme of his poems; but, alongside his Marxist views, his poems also contained romantic thoughts and the charm of the quiet atmosphere of the Santal Pargana.
Buddhadev Bose ranked among the first group of poets who attempted to move away from the influence of Rabindranath. Bose was fully aware of the features of modern poetry and his love poems are about the physical desires of the body rather than about romantic love. Nevertheless, his late poems show that deep in his heart he was essentially a romantic poet.
The poems of Premendra Mitra are inspired by rebelliousness and reflect his sympathy for oppressed and deprived humanity. While there is a strain of egoism in his peoms, there is an underlying humanism that makes his poems appealing. Other poets of this era include Amiya Chakravarty (1901-1986), Sukanta Bhattacharya (1926-1947), Ajit Dutta, Arun Mitra, and Subhash Mukhopadhyay.
Dramatic literature of the thirties : The dramatic literature of the time, unlike poetry, fiction and short stories, did not show much of modernism. The trend of Girish Chandra and Dwijendra Lal was still in vogue. Nevertheless, there were some changes because of stage modernisation, changing tastes, appearance of educated amateur artistes, and writing of new kinds of plays. Notable playwrights of this phase were Jogeshchandra Choudhury (1886-1941), Sachindra Nath Sengupta (1892-1961), Tulsi Lahiri (1897-1959), Manmatha Roy (1899-1988) and Pramathanath Bishi.
Essay literature of the thirties : In this phase, those who were noted for writing thematic essays included Suniti Kumar Chatterji (1890-1977), Sushil Kumar De (1890-1968), Rajshekhar Basu, Niharranjan Roy (1903-1981) and Sukumar Sen; in literary criticism, prominent writers were Srikumar Bandyopadhyay (1892-1970), Shashibhusan Dasgupta (1911-1964) and Pramathanath Bishi; in other areas, the prominent writers were Atul Chandra Gupta (1884-1961), Annadashankar Roy and Dhurjatiprasad Mukhopadhyay. Buddhadev Bose, Syed Muztaba Ali (1904-1974), Humayun Kabir (1906-1969) and Abu Sayeed Ayyub (1906-1982) were also exceptionally fine essayists.
Post-Partition era (1947-1971) : The most important development in the intellectual history of Muslim Bengal was the establishment in Dhaka of the Muslim Sahitya Samaj in the thirties. The group's principal source of inspiration was ABUL HUSSAIN (1896-1938) and its main writer was Kazi Abdul Wadud (1894-1970). The Samaj's mouthpiece was Shikha which proclaimed the idea of free thought.
Among those who paved the way for a new stream of literature in the then East Pakistan and later in independent Bangladesh, Mohammad Najibar Rahman (1860-1923) deserves particular mention. His novel Anwara (1912), which depicts the life of an ideal Muslim family, was read very widely in Muslim homes. Ekramuddin Ahmad (1872-1940) was another powerful Muslim writer of the period. Although he was a critic, novelist and short story writer, he was instrumental in introducing Rabindranath to Muslim society through his book Rabindrapratibha (1926).Roquiah Sakhawat
Hossain(1880-1932) demonstrated considerable skill in writing fiction, short stories, essays and poems, many of them inspired by her ideals of social and educational reform. Her Abarodhbasini (1928) depicted the plight of women in a purdah society. In Abdullah (1932) Kazi Imdadul Huq (1882-1926) revealed the effects of western education on traditonal Muslim society. Shahadat Hossain (1893-1953) was a devoted and unassuming litterateur and poet, mainly remembered for Rupchhanda (1943). The primary objective of Golam Mostafa (1897-1964) was to introduce Islamic ideas in Bangla literature. Apart from writing poetry, he also wrote Vishwanabi (1942), a fine biography of the prophet of Islam.
Some other well-known writers of this phase include Mohammad Akram Khan, Dr Muhammad Shahidullah (1885-1969), Dr Muhammad Lutfar Rahman (1889-1936), S Wazed Ali (1890-1951), Ibrahim Khan (1894-1978), Nurunessa Khatun Vidyavinodini (1894-1975), Sheikh Muhammad Idris Ali (1895-1945), Akbaruddin (1895-1979), Mohammad Barkatullah (1898-1974), Abul Kalam Shamsuddin (1897-1978), Qazi Motahar Hossain, Abul Mansur Ahmed (1898-1979), Benajir Ahmed (1903-1983), Abul Fazal (1903-1983), Motaher Hossain Chowdhury (1903-1956), Muhammad Mansuruddin (1904-1987), Abdul Quadir (1906-1984), Bande Ali Miah (1906-1979), Mahmuda Khatun Siddiqua (1906-1977), Habibullah Bahar Choudhury (1906-1966), Mahbub-ul Alam (1906-1982), Dr Muhammad Enamul Huq, Sufi Motahar Hosen (1907-1975), Begum Sufia Kamal (1911-1999) and Raushan Yazdani (1917-1967).
India's independence movement and the movement for Pakistan influenced the Bangla-speaking people in two different ways. Despite their allegiance to their common heritage and customs, the poets and litterateurs of this phase, both old and new, were inspired to work for the changed society and life of the new states of India and Pakistan. The political partition of Bengal was thus accompanied by the partition of its literature as well.
Bangladesh era : The literature of Bangladesh may be divided into three phases: first phase 1947-1957, second phase 1958-1970 and third phase from 1971 onward.
First phase (1947-1957) : This phase extended from pre-partition days to the pre-Ayub period. East Bengal faced a host of problems, such as an influx of refugees, economic distress and communal disturbances, as well as the Pakistani regime's hostile attitude to East Bengal and Bangla. Soon after the creation of Pakistan, the people of the eastern region realised the absurdity of a state based on religion. The decision to make Urdu the sole state language of the country caused Bengalis to protest, culminating in the Language Movement of 1952. This awareness of their linguistic rights laid the foundation for the first phase of Bangla literature.
Fiction : The fiction produced in Bangladesh was in fact a continuation of the fiction produced by the Muslim writers of undivided Bengal. Prominent among them were Muhammad Najibur Rahman, Korban Ali, Sheikh Idris Ali, Kazi Imdadul Huq, Kazi Abdul Wadud, Akbaruddin (1895-1978), Abul Fazal and Humayun Kabir. They founded the base for fiction in Bangladesh by assimilating the thought process of the Bengali Muslim society during the first two decades of the 20th century.
Most of the novels of the first phase were written in the backdrop of rural Bangladesh, among them Lalsalu (1948) by Syed Waliullah (1922-1971), Char-Bhanga Char (1951) by Kazi Afsaruddin (1921-1975), Kashbaner Kanya (1954) and Alamnagarer Upakatha (1954) by Shamsuddin Abul Kalam (1926-1997), Chandradviper Upakhyan (1952) by Abdul Gaffar Choudhury (b 1934), Surya-Dighal Badi (1955) by Abu Ishaque (b 1926), and Sarder Jayenuddin's Adiganta. Some writers chose life of the middle class and its crisis as their theme. Among this class of novels Abul Fazal's Jiban Pather Yatri (1948) and Ranga Prabhat (1957) are worth mentioning.
Short stories : Many of the Muslim writers of pre-partition days concentrated on producing novels and very few wrote short stories. But prominent among those who were active in the genre after 1947 include Abul Fazal, Abu Rushd, Syed Waliullah, Abul Mansur Ahmed, Shamsuddin Abul Kalam and Shawkat Osman (1917-1998). The new genre of short stories grew around the Muslim middle class that sprang up following partition; most stories used the social life of this class as their theme. Thus the short stories of Bangladesh reflected social reality and how the onslaught of urban life was eroding the quietude of rural life. Some books of short stories of this phase were Shawkat Osman's Pijranpol (1950), Junu Apa O Anyanya Galpa (1952) and Sabek Kahini (1953), Shamsuddin Abul Kalam's Anek Diner Asha (1952), Path Jana Nei (1953) and Dheu (1953), Shahed Ali's Jibrailer Dana (1953), and Alauddin Al-Azad's Jege Achhi, Dhan Kanya (1951) and Mrganabhi (1955).
Poetry : The poets of East Bengal had been attempting since pre-partition days to create poetry of their own separate from the Kolkata-centred stream. After partition, the poets felt even more encouraged to write romantic poems on the themes of early Islamic history as well as on Pakistani nationalism. Those who belonged to this trend included Farrukh Ahmad (1918-1974), Ahsan Habib (1918-1983), Abul Husain (b 1921), Golam Quddus and Syed Ali Ahsan (b 1922).
Farrukh Ahmad was the most prominent poet of this trend. He created a world of poetry by using religious sentiments. His Sat Sagarer Majhi (1944) and Sirajam Munira (1952) are two books of poems worth mentioning. Two other equally important books on similar themes are Golam Mostafa's Bani Adam (1958) and Talim Husain's Dishari (1956). Other well-known poets of the time were Syed Ali Ahsan, Mufakkharul Islam, Sadruddin and Sufi Zulfiqar Haider.
However, there were other poets who tried to write poetry on secular and humanistic themes. Among these poets were Ashraf Siddiqui, with Biskanya (1955), Sat Bhai Champa (1955) and Uttar Akasher Tara (1958), Mazharul Islam with Matir Fasal (1955), Matiul Islam with Saptakanya (1957) and Begum Sufia Kamal with Man O Jiban (1957). This humanistic trend is also reflected in Natun Kavita (1950), edited by Ashraf Siddiqui and Abdur Rashid Khan. Among poets who contributed to this edition were Shamsur Rahman, Hasan Hafizur Rahman, Alauddin Al-Azad and Borhanuddin Khan Jahangir.
Another poetic trend was inspired by the themes of instability in modern society, fatigue, rebellion and pangs of deprivation. The poets of this stream include Ahsan Habib and Abul Husain. Ahsan Habib's Ratrishes (1944) contained poems typical of his timidity and modesty. Abul Husain's Naba Basanta (1942), though published before partition, belongs to this trend.
The influence of 21 February : The events of 21 February 1952 had a far-reaching effect on poetry as they did on the national life of this country. In 1953 Hasan Hafizur Rahman published an anthology of poems under the title of Ekushey February. Along with Natun Kavita, this anthology played a significant role in shaping the secular and humanistic character of Bangla poetry.
Plays : Unlike other branches of literature in this phase, plays did not flourish to any significant extent. Religious and social taboos about plays as well as various limitations in staging them thwarted the development of drama. Most plays of the time were based on historical stories, completely detached from the realities of contemporary life. Of these plays, Akbaruddin's Nadir Shah (1953) is worth mentioning. Poet Jasimuddin used folklore to create Padmapar, Madhumala and Beder Meye. Outside these two trends, Nurul Momen created Nemesis (1948) depicting a superb picture of the contemporary life. In terms of theme and structure, Nemesis was regarded as the first successful play of Bangladesh. Razia Khan's play Sangbarta reflects political consciousness. Askar Ibne Shaikh is particularly remembered for writing social plays. He wrote quite a few plays based on the realities of rural life including Padaksep, Bidrohi Padma, Duranta Dheu, Birodh, Agnigiri, Anubartan and Pratiksa, all written between 1951 and 1959. Of particular interest is the thematic variety of these plays, which include historical plays as well as plays of political protest, plays based on Folk Tales and those containing poetry and satire.
It was Munir Chowdhury (1925-1971) who almost single-handedly raised the status of Bangla plays to an international level. A political prisoner in Dhaka central jail, he wrote the exceptional play Kabar (1953) based on the language movement of 1952. In fact, Kabar proved to be a turning point in Bangla plays. When the play was published, Manus and Nastachhele were added to the volume. Through these three plays, the writer spoke of eschewing communalism and of embracing greater humanism.
Essays : Most of the post-partition essays were on subjects of literature and culture. Of the writers of this trend many were already well known before partition, such as Muhammad Shahidullah and Muhammad Abdul Hai. Some books had been published in 1928 from Paris. These writers continued to carry out valuable research on Bangla language, literature and culture. Shahidullah's Bangla Sahityer Katha (volume 1, 1953, volume 2, 1965) and Abdul Hai's Sahitya O Sangskrti (1954) deserve special mention in the essay literature of this phase.
Second phase (1958-1970) : The literary and cultural activities in Pakistan and especially in East Pakistan were thwarted following the promulgation of martial law by the army chief Ayub Khan in 1958. Restrictions on open politics, establishment of dictatorship in the garb of democracy and similar other measures aroused the Bengalis against the regime. The people's uprising in 1968, the students' movement in 1969 to realise their 11-point demand, the victory of the Bengalis in the general elections of 1970 but the refusal of the Pakistani junta to transfer power to them, the liberation war of 1971, the victory won by the Bengalis and the establishment of the sovereign state of Bangladesh all there deeply affected the social life of the people and were amply reflected in the Bangla literature of the 1958-1970 period.
Fiction : Fiction in the second phase, as in the first phase, was written mainly on rural life. The harsh realities of rural life in Bangladesh were the theme of Hazar Bachhar Dhare (1964) by Zahir Raihan (1933-1972). The complexities of Hindu-Muslim relations in rural life were used by Satyen Sen (1907-1981) as the theme of his Padachihna (1968). Shahidullah Kaiser (1925-1971) in his Sareng Bau (1962) depicts a realistic picture of how the onslaught and complexity of urban life were destroying the peace of the rural life of south Bengal. Alauddin Al-Azad's Karnafuli portrayed the life of class struggle on the banks of the river Karnafuli. Ahmed Sofa's Surya Tumi Sathi (1968) showed the continuing struggle for existence of rural people. However, Syed Waliullah's Chander Amabasya (1964), though ostensibly about rural life, is actually about social life under the Ayub Khan regime.
The shadow cast by Ayub's military rule on the life and thoughts of the Bengalis led creative writers to take to myths and symbolism to put forward their message. The crises that the Bengali middle class passed through during the Ayub rule were symbolically presented by Shawkat Osman in his novels Krtadaser Hasi (1963), Raja Upakhyan (1970) and Samagam. Similarly, Satyen Sen in his Abhishapta Nagari (1967) and Paper Santan (1969) portrayed the eternal struggle of the people for existence using an Old Testament's myth. Shamsuddin Abul Kalam's Bhawal Garher Upakhyan (1963) reflected the writer's commitment to society and his progressive political thoughts.
In this phase many wrote modern individualistic novels on the models of the European middle class and individualism. These novels indicate a lack of trust in values, and a want of confidence in the force of love and a strong distaste for life. The writers chose loneliness and detachment of urban individuals as themes of their novels. Of this genre, Battalar Upanyas (1959) and Anukalpa (1959) by Razia Khan (b 1936) deserve special mention. Syed Shamsul Huq (b 1935) is adept in writing such novels. Quite a few of his novels show his deliberate attempts at employing Freudian theories. His most well-known novels are Deyaler Desh (1959), Ek Mahilar Chhabi (1959), Anupam Din (1962) and Simana Chhadiye (1964).
Zahir Raihan's Shes Bikeler Meye (1960) was apparently a romantic love story but it really portrayed the complicated life of the rising Bengali middle class of the time. Alauddin Al-Azad's Teish Nambar Tailachitra (1960) and Shiter Shes Rat Basanter Pratham Din (1962) primarily showed the individual man's crisis and mental agony. Similarly, the psychological conflict of a couple who are artists is portrayed in Ahsan Habib's novel Aranya Nilima (1961). Rashid Karim's Prasanna Pasan (1963) is a faithful documentation of the crisis in the life of the urban middle class. Shawkat Ali's Pingal Akash (1963) portrays the coarseness of the urban middle class, its immoral craving for riches, and its lust for sex. The novel Ghar Man Janala (1965) by Dilara Hashim (b 1943) is a tale of the struggle for existence of the middle class and their sense of frustration.
The effects of post-1947 politics in East Bengal also extended to creative literature. The reputed novels that realistically reflected the ways of contemporary politics and the nationalistic movements for liberation include Shahidullah Kaiser's Sangsaptak (1965), Alauddin Al-Azad's Ksudha O Asha (1964), Sarder Jayenuddin's Anek Suryer Asha (1967), Zahir Raihan's Arek Falgun (1969), Zahirul Islam's Agnisaksi (1969), Satyen Sen's Uttaran (1970) and Nidsandhani (1968) of Anwar Pasha (1928-1971).
Short stories : The genre of the Bangla short story flourished in East Pakistan as new writers emerged who, like the already active writers, began writing on themes close to life. The writers faithfully reflected through their short stories the problems faced by the rural poor. Such works included Shahed Ali's Ekai Samatale (1963), Sarder Jayenuddin's Bir Kanthir Biye and Nayan Dhuli. Many others chose, alongside village life, the complexity of urban middle class life, their hope and despair, desire and ennui, etc. The books that particularly reflected the life of the urban middle class were Abdul Gaffar Choudhury's Samrater Chhabi (1959), Krishnapaksa (1959) and Sundar He Sundar (1960), and Syed Shamsul Huq's Shit Bikel (1959), Rakta Golap (1964) and Anander Mrityu (1967). Alauddin Al-Azad attempted to depict the social realities outside the usual rural-urban scenario from the viewpoint of dialectical materialism. Most of his stories showed the ugly consequences of class struggle. Jege Achhi, Dhankanya (1951), Andhakar Sindi (1958) and Yakhan Saikat (1967). Borhanuddin Khan Jahangir attempted to view life from the Marxist angle. Most of the events and characters of his stories in his books Durduranta (1968), Abichchhinna (1969) and Bishal Krodh (1969) were drawn from the life of the urban middle and upper middle classes.
Poetry : Even in this phase some poets used Islam as the primary inspiration of their work. Among these writings were Farrukh Ahmad's Hatem Ta'yi (1966), Raushan Yazdani's Khatamun Nabi-in (1960), Talim Husain's Shahin (1962), Sufi Zulfiqar Haider's Fer Banao Mussalman (1959). During the 1965 Indo-Pak war, patriotism, national pride and communal hostility formed their themes of poetry. But after the war, this trend waned, yielding place to humanistic thoughts that transcended communal feelings. Simple romantic love, nature and man became the main themes of poetry of this time. This trend manifested itself most prominently in Syed Ali Ahsan's Uchcharan (1968), Shamsur Rahaman's Bidhvasta Nilima (1967), Muhammad Moniruzzaman's Bipanna Bisad (1968), Hasan Hafizur Rahman's Antim Sharer Mata (1968), Al Mahmud's Kaler Kalas (1966), Shahid Qadri's Uttaradhikar (1968), Fazal Shahabuddin's Akanksita Asundar (1969), Syed Shamsul Huq's Biratihin Utsav, and Abdul Mannan Syed's Janmandha Kavitaguchchha (1966). Some other books worth mentioning are Muhammad Mahfuzullah's Julekhar Man (1959), Kader Nawaz's Nil Kumudi (1960) and Mahmuda Khatun Siddiqua's Man O Mrttika.
Another genre of poetry that flourished at the time expressed the fatigue, failure and despair of contemporary life. Two books of this category are Shamsur Rahaman's Pratham Gan Dvitiya Mrtyur Age (1960) and Raudra Karotite (1963). Some other similar books of poems are Abdul Ghani Hazari's Samanya Dhan (1961) and Suryer Sindi, Syed Shamsul Huq's Ekada Ek Rajye (1961), Syed Ali Ahsan's Anek Akash (1961) and Ekak Sandhyay Basanta (1962), Hasan Hafizur Rahman's Bimukh Prantar (1963), Al Mahmud's Lok Lokantar (1963) and Ahsan Habib's Sara Dupur (1964).
Another genre of poems of the time reflected the thoughts and sentiments of the poets on East Bengal's history, heritage and nature. Patriotism was the primary burden of those poems. These sentiments are clearly visible in Sanaul Huq's Sambhaba Ananya (1962) and Surya Anyatara (1963). The reflection of Bengali nationalism in the poetry later was but a continuation of this trend. Many poets of the time were also influenced by Marxism, including Alauddin Al-Azad and Husne Ara who regarded poetry as a weapon for social change. Manchitra (1961) by Alauddin Al-Azad and Michhil (1964) by Husne Ara espouse the cause of oppressed people.
Bangla poetry of the time gradually moved towards a concern for the masses. Even without being votaries of any particular political or social ideology, poets attempted to voice the collective feelings and sentiments of the masses of East Bengal. Syed Shamsul Huq's Baishakhe Rachita Pangktimala (1969), Shamsur Rahaman's Nij Basbhume (1970), Al Mahmud's Sonali Kabin and Nirmalendu Goon's Premangshur Rakta Chai (1970) bear testimony to such thoughts. The basic themes of these poems were the misery of the common people, craving for national independence, oppression and repression of the Bengalis as a race and the people's protests against all this. The poets attempted to portray the dreams of the masses beyond the misfortunes of individuals. The Bengali people's uprising of 1969 prompted this changeover. The uprising also effected a change in the vocabulary of the poems as the people were daily getting to know such terms as 'misil' (processions), 'dharmaghat' (strike), hartal, shlogans, 'sandhya-ain' (curfew), police, military etc. Easily those words found their way into the poetry. Enriched by such vocabulary, the Bangla poetry reached the close periphery of the life of the masses.
Plays : The efforts at writing Bangla plays in the first phase on the basis of contemporary period and society continued with vigour in the second phase. The plays in this phase were varied and tried to portray the social realities. Several of Munier Chowdhurypowerful plays, including some translated works, were published at this time. Munier Chowdhury's Dandakaranya (1966) was written on the subject of contemporary society. His play Chithi was a satire written on ordinary subjects to creater laughter. Although written on a historical subject, his Raktakta Prantar was a superb dramatisation of the contemporary anti-war psychology. Based on historical subjects, Sikander Abu Zafar's Sirajuddaula (1965) and Mahakavi Alaol (1966) were comments on life. Shawkat Osman also attempted to write plays on contemporary society. His Amlar Mamla, Taskar Laskar, Kankar Mani and Etimkhana were all based on contemporary social topics.
Syed Waliullah was a distinguished name in Bangla dramatic literature. He was the first playwright to introduce the style and techniques of elegance and technique in Bangla plays. His Bahipir and Tarangabhanga (1964) were additions of differing genre in Bangla drama. Like him, Sayeed Ahmed also used modern philosophy and artistic theories to create Bangla plays. His Kalbela (1962) and Milepost could be compared with the standard of world class plays. In technique of form too these plays were innovative and experimental.
Alauddin Al-Azad's Mayabi Prahar (1969) is based on class struggle, while Moroccor Yadughar (1959) depicts the problems of modern life through symbolsm. Sikander Abu Zafar also successfully used symbolism in his plays as in Shakunta Upakhyan (1968). Zia Haider's Shubhra Sundar Kalyani Ananda (1970) and Abdullah Al-Mamun's Shapath (1965) are also essentially symbolic plays. Other playwrights of this period include Anis Chowdhury, Neelima Ibrahim, Anm Bazlur Rashid, Ibrahim Khalil and Kalyan Mitra.
Essays : The essays in this phase mainly concentrated on research about the history of Bangla literature with emphasis on Muslim writers. Some important works of the time were Nazirul Islam Muhammad Sufian's Bangla Sahityer Natun Itihas, Abdul Latif Choudhury's Bangla Sahityer Itihas, Muhammad Enamul Huq's Muslim Bangla Sahitya, joint work of Muhammad Abdul Hai and Syed Ali Ahsan Bangla Sahityer Itibrtta, Kazi Deen Muhammad's Bangla Sahityer Itihas and Muhammad Mansuruddin's Bangla Sahitye Muslim Sadhana.
Other essays on society, literature and culture were written at this time, including the essays contained in Kazi Deen Muhammad's Sahitya-sambhar O Sahityashilpa, Ahmad Sharif's Bichita Chinta and Mazharul Islam's Sahitya Pathe. There have been many essays on thematic aspects of Bangla literature but few on its structural aspects. Syed Ali Ahsan, however, showed the way in his Kavitar Katha and Adhunik Kavita: Shabder Anusange. Other important essays in this respect were Syed Ali Ashraf's Kavya Parichay and Ranesh Dasgupta's Upanyaser Shilparup.
Books on Bangla and Muslim contribution : In this phase several writers wrote books on Bangla. A number of well-known works include Muhammad Shahidullah's Bangala Bhasar Itibrtta, Muhammad Abdul Hai's Dhvani Bijnan O Bangla Dhvanitattva, and Shibprosanna Lahiri's Sylheti Bhasatattver Bhumika. A number of books were also written on the contribution of Muslim writers in Bangla literature. Some of these books include Anisuzzaman's Muslim Manas O Bangla Sahitya, Kazi Abdul Mannan's Adhunik Bangla Sahitye Muslim Sadhana, Muhammad Mahfuzullah's Bangla Kavye Muslim Aitihya, Mustafa Nurul Islam's Muslim Bangla Sahitya and Ghulam Saqlain's Muslim Sahitya O Sahityik and Purba Pakistaner Sufi Sadhak.
The interest in Puthi Literature grew at this time as researchers delved into the medieval past of Bangla literature. Alaol's Padmavati was edited by Muhammad Shahidullah, Syed Ali Ahsan and Abdul Karim Sahityavisharad. Ahmad Sharif edited over 15 Puthis including Daulat Uzir Bahram Khan's Laily-Majnu (1958), Alaol's Tohfa (1958), Muhammad Khan's Satyakali-Bibad-Sangbad Ba Yug Sangbad (1959) and Jainuddin's Rasulbijay (1964). Daulat Qazi's Satimayna O Lorchandrani (1969) was edited by Mazharul Islam and Muhammad Abdul Hafiz, and Nawajis Khan's Gule Bakawali (1970) was edited by Razia Sultana.
Books on Rabindranath : Despite the antipathy of the Pakistani rulers towards Rabindranath, the period saw a growing interest in him reflected in the number of books written on him. Among these books are Mofazzal Haider Chaudhuri's Rabi Parikrama, Anwar Pasha's Rabindra Chhotagalpa Samiksa, Jogeshchandra Singh's Dhyani Rabindranath, Anisuzzaman edited Rabindranath, Syed Akram Husain's Rabindranather Upanyas: Deshkal O Shilparup, Ahmad Kabir's Rabindrakavya: Upama O Pratik and Humayun Azad's Rabindranath: Rastra O Samajchinta.
Third phase (1971- (1971- ) : The liberation war of 1971 and the independence of Bangladesh marks the third phase of the literature of this region.
Fiction : The fiction of this phase records the saga of the liberation war, the hellish face of the war, the dream of a free and egalitarian Bangladesh and thereafter the realization of independence. Syed Shamsul Huq's novels of this phase depict the complex and multifaceted conflicts. His novel Duratva (1981) very faithfully portrays, through the autobiographical account of Zainal, a college teacher, the intricate socio-political realities of post-1975 Bangladesh. His two other novels, Mahashunye Paran Master 1982) and Ayna Bibir Pala (1982), also depict the changes and erosion in rural life.
Hasnat Abdul Hai's novel Timi (1981) depicts the instability and socio-political scenario of the years immediately following independence. It portrays quite faithfully how the people of the coastal union Kazalpur win in their struggle against evil forces. Almost an identical picture is portrayed in his novel Prabhu (1986). Bashir al-Helal's Shes Panpatra (1986) is also a fine portrayal of conflicts and questions of existence in post-indepence rural Bangladesh.
The struggle of the char people for survival in the coastal region has been truly reflected in Selina Husain's Jalochchhvas (1972) and Pokamakader Gharbasati (1986). Two other books of the type are Abu Bakr Siddique's Jal Raksas (1985) and Kharadaha (1987). A more optimistic view of rural life is found in Haripada Dutta's Ishane Agnidaha (1986) and Andhakupe Janmotsav (1987).
A large section of the patriotic middle class who took part in the liberation war got frustrated at the country's economic, social and political conditions. The post-1971 novels painted pictures of the post-independence instability and despondency. Sarder Jayenuddin's Shrimati Ka O Kha Ebang Shriman Taleb Ali (1973) depicts the overwhelming corrosion in the life of the middle class in the post-liberation days. Humayun Ahmed's Nandita Narake (1972) and Shankhanil Karagar (1973) depict the static state of the life of the middle class and their frustrations and loneliness. The picture of the alienated hedonist is found in Syed Shamsul Huq's Khelaram Khele Ya (1973). The multifarious problems in the life of the middle class are also depicted in Rashid Karim's Prem Ekti Lal Golap (1978) and Sadharan Loker Kahini (1981). Rizia Rahman's Rakter Aksar (1978), on the other hand, paints the dark picture of an urban slum of sex workers. Her Ekti Fuler Janya (1986) presents a freedom fighter's face wearing the scars of defeat. Some other similar books are Shawkat Ali's Apeksa (1985), Bashir Al-Helal's Kalo Ilish (1979), Hasnat Abdul Hai's Amar Atatayi (1980), and Selina Husain's Magnachaitanye Shis (1979). Razia Khan's novel He Mahajiban (1983) narrates the biography of a liberated woman.
Shamsur Rahman's Octopus (1983) and Montage (1985) depict the sufferings of an individual due to internal as well as external compulsions. A trilogy on this theme was created by Abu Jafar Shamsuddin through his Padma Meghna Jamuna (1974), Sangkar Sangkirtan (1980) and the pre-independence work Bhawal Garher Upakhyan. Shawkat Osman's Artanad (1985) and Selina Husain's Yapita Jiban (1981) were portrayals of the fundamental sentiments of the language movement as well as of the post-partition refugee problem and the cultural conflict. A number of novels were inspired by the anthropological, historical, and cultural heritage of the land. Among these novels are Shawkat Ali's Pradose Prakrtajan (1984) based on history and heritage is a unique addition to fiction. Rizia Rahman's Bang Theke Bangla (1978) and Ekal Chirakal (1984) as well as Selina Husain's Nil Mayurer Yauban (1983) and Chand Bene (1984) encompass the long span of anthropological, geographical, social and cultural life of the Bengalis.
The assessment and analysis of the critical political situation that prevailed in post-liberation Bangladesh resulting from political instability, militarism, theological overtones and the rehabilitation of war criminals prompted the writing of a number of novels including Shawkat Osman's Patanga Pinjar (1983) and Selina Husain's Nirantar Ghantadhvani (1987). The individual and collective dreams and political aspirations of the people of the sixties form the basis for Shawkat Ali's trilogy- Daksinayaner Din (1985), Kulay Kalasrot (1986) and Purbaratri Purbadin (1986). The mass uprising of the people in the sixties is the theme of Akhteruzzaman Elias's novel Chilekothar Sepai (1986). Anwar Pasha's autobiographical Rifle Roti Aorat (1973) is based on the liberation war. Shawkat Osman wrote four novels on the same theme: Jahannam Haite Biday (1971), Dui Sainik (1973), Nekde Aranya (1973) and Jalanggi (1976).
Poetry : Poetry in the post-independence days could be described as poetry of the liberation war, for it was inspired by the war, its sentiments and experiences. Those who started writing poetry prior to liberation and continued to be active in the post-independence days include Abdul Mannan Syed, Abdullah Abu Sayeed, Rafiq Azad, Muhammad Rafiq, Jinat Ara Rafiq, Altaf Husain and Asad Choudhury. Younger poets such as Nirmalendu Goon, Mahadev Saha, Humayun Azad, Daud Haider and Humayun Kabir were far closer to life and linked more to the soil and its people. Their poems depicted more faithfully the feelings of the masses than the pleasures and sorrows of individuals.
In the free environment of the independent country, poetry, compared to other branches, became the most important segment of literature. But soon the poets, like the common people, became frustrated and afflicted with despair when they found that their hopes raised by independence were far from being realised. Their sentiments found expression in such poems as Daud Haider's 'janmai amar ajanma pap' (Being born has been my original sin) and Rafiq Azad's 'Bhat de haramzada ta na hale manchitra khabo' (Give me food O bastard or else I will eat up the map). Most well-known among the books of poems on the instability and famine-stricken life after liberation were Rafiq Azad's Bhat De Haramzada, Daud Haider's Janmai Amar Ajanma Pap and Rudra Muhammad Shahidullah's Batase Lasher Gandha.
Another important theme of post-independence poetry has been love. Alongside concern for the political situation, the poets of Bangladesh also dealt with the heart's affairs in their work. The young poets as well as the older ones published books of love poems. They treated love and revolution on equal footing and worked in earnest to achieve their desired goal. At the same time, poets did not hesitate to express their frustration, anger and protest when the military dictatorship seized power thwarting the democratic process.
A group of poets in the post-liberation days experimented surrealistic poems. In this connection, Abdul Mannan Syed's Parabastav Kavita is worth mentioning. This trend did not however last long. Some poets even experimented with breaking poetic metres to bring about changes in form. Of course, such changes had been tried in the past and continued to be tried now.
The poetry of the eighties was essentially loaded with sentiments of protest. Bangladesh was then under military dictatorship witnessing misrule and exploitation of a power-hungry coterie. The poetry of the time directly reflected the anger of the poets. In the nineties, a new awakening stirred the poetry of Bangladesh. The poets consciously started cultivating post-modern trend. They started looking back at the original heritage of the country and this movement centred round the little magazines. The modernism initiated by the poets of the thirties had little link with the poetry of eternal Bangladesh, for it was imposed. The post-modernist poets attempted to free Bangla poetry from the robe of imposed modernism and make it genuinely Bangladeshi in the true language of the country.
Short stories : In post-liberation Bangladesh, those who earned repute as writers of short stories included Abu Zafar Shamsuddin, Abu Rushd, Shawkat Osman and Alauddin Al-Azad. Abu Zafar Shamsuddin's Rajen Thakurer Tirthayatra (1977) is a collection of speech-oriented short stories. Abu Rushd's Mahendra Mistanna Bhandar (1986) has a number of daring and fine short stories. In the post-liberation days Syed Shamsul Huq concentrated on writing novels and plays but his Prachin Bangsher Nihshva Santan is a book of some exceptional short stories. Abul Khair Muslehuddin and Nazmul Alam wrote short stories based on the lives of ordinary people. Sayeed Atiqullah, on the other hand, wrote symbolic short stories, as found in his book Budhbar Rate (1973).
The short stories of this phase, compared to those written prior to independence, were far more pro-people and more concerned with politics. The liberation war, the pains of a large segment of the frustrated middle class freedom fighters, erosion in the rural and urban life and lack of peace in family life surfaced again and again in the short stories of this period. Many of the writers were themselves freedom fighters and had had personal experience of the war. The armed struggle of the people of Bangladesh against the repression and genocide committed by the occupation army provided inspiration to the writers. The first anthology of short stories on the freedom struggle- Bangladesh Katha Kay (1971)- was published from Kolkata by Abdul Gaffar Choudhury. The stories spoke of direct experience of the war. Later, some similar books published from Dhaka included Bashir Al-Helal's Pratham Krishnachuda (1972), Abul Hasnat edited Muktiyuddher Galpa (1973) and Harun Habib edited Muktiyuddher Nirbachita Galpa (1985).
A number of books of short stories reflected the new country's social instability, a downturn in law and order, moral degradation of the youth and an overall breakdown in the sense of values. Among these books of short stories are Shawkat Osman's Janma Yadi Taba Bange (1975), Alauddin Al-Azad's Amar Rakta, Svapna Amar (1975) and Abdul Mannan Syed's Mrtyur Adhik Lal Ksudha (1977).
The short stories of this phase exhibited a major change of attitude with the downtrodden segment of the society finding a place as subjects alongside the people of upper strata. Many writers created a world of fiction by using this phenomenon of social polarisation. The books of short stories of this trend include Rahat Khan's Anishchita Lokalay (1972), Antahin Yatra (1975), and Bhalamander Taka (1981), Abdus Shakur's Crisis (1976) and Saras Galpa (1982), Rashid Haider's Antare Bhinna Purus and Megheder Gharbadi, Hasnat Abdul Hai's Eka Abang E Prasange and Yakhan Basanta, Mafruha Choudhury's Aranya Gatha O Ananya Galpa, Bashir Al-Helal's Biparit Manus, Mahbub Talukdar's Arup Tomar Vani, Abul Hasnat's Parakiya, Kabosna and Baz, Subrata Barua's Kachpoka, Nazma Jesmin Choudhury's Anya Nayak, Humayun Ahmed's Nishikavya and Shit O Anyanya Galpa and Imdadul Huq Milon's Love Story.
Nevertheless the tales of poverty stricken landless peasants, their exploitation and repression by the zamindars, money lenders, political touts and religious zealots continued to be written. Hasan Azizul Huq's short stories depict the life of such people of north Bengal in Jiban Gase Agun (1973), Namhin Gotrahin (1975) and Patale Haspatale (1981). Shawkat Ali's Lelihan Sadh (1973) and Shuna He Lakhindar (1986) also deserve mention.
Akhtaruzzaman Elias's books of short stories were also published after independence, among them, Anya Ghare Anya Svar (1976), Khoyari (1982) and Dudhbhate Utpat (1985). He depicted the life of old Dhaka graphically in his stories. The social condition and the socio-political scenario painted by Hasan Azizul Huq, Shawkat Ali and Akhtaruzzaman Elias in their short stories had on one side oppressed rural life and on the other the decaying sense of values.
Plays : Drama flourished after 1971. Innovative ideas, political awareness, skill in form and use of refined language, revitalised drama. The plays of this time were based on the people's movement and the liberation war as well as the erosion in social values and the despair of the masses. Symbolism and folk heritage were also used in many of the plays. Many foreign plays were translated at this time. Those who made the drama movement forceful included Syed Shamsul Huq, Abdullah Al-Mamun, Mamunur Rashid and Selim Al-Din. All of them were connected with drama performances.
Syed Shamsul Huq's poetic play Payer Awaz Pawa Jay (1976) based on the liberation war was a valuable addition to Bangla drama literature. His Nuruldiner Sara Jiban (1982), Ekhane Ekhano Yuddha and Yuddha were important works in terms of dramatic form. Abdullah Al-Mamun established himself through his play Subachan Nirbasane. Around 1974 he wrote quite a few successful plays on the prevailing loss of social values, despair and instability including Ekhan Duhsamay, Charidike Yuddha, Ebar Dhara Dao, Senapati and Ekhano Kritadas (1984).
Among contemporary playwrights, Mamunur Rashid has proved to be the most socially conscious. His well-known plays include Ora Kadam Ali (1979), Ora Achhe Balei (1981), Iblis (1983), Ekhane Nonar (1984) and Guineapig. Selim Al-Din experimented with drama forms and language. His talent in writing satirical plays was proved in his Sangbad Cartoon and Muntasir Fantasy. His Kittankhola (1985), Shakuntala and Keramatmangal are also well-known.
Momtajuddin Ahmed had been writing plays since before liberation days but came into prominence after independence. He showed a special aptitude for writing one-act plays and for satirical language. His two post-independence successful plays were Sat Ghater Kanakadi and Ki Chaha Shankhachil (1985).
After liberation there appeared a number of drama groups which organised regular stage performances. The groups that were particularly active were Nagarik Natya Sampraday, Theatre, Dhaka Theatre, Aranyak, Dhaka Padatik and Natyachakra. They translated or adapted and staged plays of such world famous playwrights as Bertolt Brecht, Moliere, Anton Chekhov, Shakespeare and Ibsen.
Essays and research : In post-liberation Bangladesh there has been a noticeable progress in research. The major themes of research include ancient and medieval literature, modern literature, Rabindra literature, Nazrul literature, Folk Literature, linguistics, the language movement, and the liberation war. Those who made significant contributions in research were Sanjida Khatun, Rafiqul Islam, Anisuzzaman, Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal, Mohammad Moniruzzaman and Abdul Hafiz. Sanjida Khatun worked on Rabindranath and Rafiqul Islam on Nazrul. Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal's book had the title of Bengali Press and Literary Writing (1977).
Valuable research on folk literature has also been carried on by Abul Kalam Muhammad Zakaria, Ashraf Siddiqui, Mazharul Islam, Abdus Sattar, Wakil Ahmed, Abdul Hafiz, Anwarul Karim, Khondkar Reazul Huq, SM Lutfur Rahman and Abul Ahsan Choudhury. Those who worked on linguistics were Mohammad Abdul Qayyum, Rafiqul Islam, Abul Kalam Manjoor Morshed, Mansur Musa, Humayun Azad, Daniul Huq and Moniruzzaman.
Those who wrote essays on politics and sociology include Badruddin Omar, Abdul Huq, Serajul Islam Choudhury, Abul Kashem Fazlul Huq and Ahmed Rafiq. Ranesh Dasgupta, Syed Ali Ahsan, Kabir Choudhury and Abdul Mannan Syed have made valuable contributions in writing scholarly essays. Ranesh Dasgupta was well known as a Marxist writer. Syed Ali Ahsan wrote a host of essays on Bangla poetry and fine arts. His Satata Svagata and Shilpabodh O Shilpachaitanya contained essays of deep insight.
Some notable writers of Post-Partition era (1947- ) from West Bengal are Samaresh Basu, Amyobhushan Majumdar, Komolkumar Majumdar, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Shankha Ghosh, Shakti Chattopadhyay, Mahasweta Devi, Debesh Roy, and Joy Goswami.