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Ren, Xiaoke (2022) The Interface Between Literature and Ideology in Post-Independence India: Hindi Progressive Novels of the 1950s. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis studies Hindi Progressive novels of the 1950s and explores different ways of how literature reflects and/or produces a set of recognized ideas or principles that constitute ‘progressivism’ in the context of Hindi literature. Though the All-India Progressive Writers’ Association almost ceased working in the 1950s, Progressive writers continued to produce Hindi novels that conveyed progressive messages. The ideological orientation of these novels incurred the accusation that Progressive novels are but political propaganda and are, therefore, of little literary value. This thesis, instead, considers this corpus in a more positive and fruitful way by drawing upon Susan R. Suleiman’s definition and formulation of the ‘ideological novel’ (roman a these) as a generic paradigm and on specific narratological techniques, in order to critically examine both the ideological and aesthetic elements in Progressive novels. This thesis examines seven Hindi Progressive novels of the 1950s written by established writers like Nagarjun and Yashpal, and by younger generation writers including Amrit Rai, Rangey Raghav and Bhairavprasad Gupta. It explores how the novels narrate the topics of becoming progressive, fighting for progressive values, the critique of the Congress regime, and approaching the people. Bīj, Balchanmā and Satī Maiyā kā Chaurā are Progressive Bildungsromans, in which a diverse typology of potentially progressive individuals (young students, agricultural labourers and even landlords) become politically awakened through what Suleiman calls the ‘structure of apprenticeship’. I then draw upon Suleiman’s ‘structure of confrontation’ to discuss how Satī Maiyā kā Chaurā stages confrontations between landlords and zamindars, secularists and communalists, and offers imaginary resolutions to these conflicts. Hāthī ke Dānt and Jhūṭhā Sach generate a narrative critique of the post-independent Congress politics through their narrators and character-system. Finally, the thesis focuses on Huzūr and Kab Tak Pukārūṁ to explore how Progressive writers experiment with shifts in narrative perspectives to clarify their position vis-a-vis the oppressed people.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: James Caron
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2022 11:18
Funders: Other

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