SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Das, Sisirkumar (1963) Early Bengali prose: Carey to Vidyasager. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

PDF - Submitted Version
Download (19MB) | Preview


The present thesis examines the growth of Bengali prose from its experimental beginnings with Carey to its growth into full literary stature in the hands of Vidyasagar. The subject is presented chronologically and covers roughly the first half of the 19th century. Prior to the 19th century there was no literary prose in Bengali. The period falls into certain clearly definable phases, the first phase begins in 1801. It seeds the cultivation of prose for the purpose of writing text-books and translations including the Biblical translations. This phase is associated with Serampore which was the headquarter of the Baptist Missionaries at the time and Fort William College where Carey worked as a teacher of Bengali and Sanskrit. The third and fourth phases belong to the newspaper which came into being in 1818 but there is an intervening phase which overlaps with the first and third and deals with the work of only one author, Rammohan Ray. The newspaper phases are divided into two because the first phase concerns the journalistic activities of many writers who are today unknown. Whereas the second phase of newspaper treats of journalists who are also writers of quality in their own right. The whole period from 1800 to roughly 1856 is the period of text books and of newspaper writing. Some authors wrote text books only, others were journalists but a number including the last and greatest Vidyasagar was both. The divisions into Chapters follows the phase framework outlined above. The first chapter sketches the history of Bengali literature prior to 1757, the social and literary conditions prevailing in Bengal during the 18th century, and the linguistic situation in Calcutta at the time the first experiments were being made in literary prose. It also presents a few specimens of the rudimentary prose prior to 19th century. The second chapter outlines the linguistic problems which confronted Carey and his colleagues. This chapter introduces the method of analysis which is applied to the work of individual authors in the later part of the thesis. The third, fourth and fifth chapters contain an analysis of the prose works produced by Carey, Ramram Basu, Mrityunjay respectively. The sixth chapter is devoted to Rammohan's contribution to the development of Bengali prose. The chapter seven treats of the beginnings of the newspaper and examines journalistic prose produced up to about 1830. The eighth chapter is devoted to the Sambad Prabhakar (1830) and treats particularly of the work of its editor Isvarcandra Gupta. The ninth chapter deals with the Tattvabodhini Patrika (1843). The works of its editor Aksay kumar Datta and of Debendranath, father of Rabindranath Tagore are examined in details. The final Chapter deals with the works of Isvarcandra Bandyopadhyay (popularly known as Vidyasagar) only. Contemporaries of Vidyasagar whose works belong to a later phase in the history of Bengali prose are omitted from the present examination. The analysis of prose presented in Chapters II to X treats of both their linguistic form and literary quality. The criteria adopted in the analysis are defined chapter by chapter as their application becomes relevant.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:13

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item