Interlude to Modern Punjabi Literature (1858-1919)

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Written by Randeep Singh

Modern Punjabi literature emerges as a result of three historical influences. First, the advent of the British Raj in 1858, brought social, political, cultural and economic changes which affected Punjabi society and culture. Second, English education introduced new forms and ideas into Punjabi literature including the novel, drama and free verse. Third, the rise in nationalism and the anti-colonial freedom government influenced both tone and subject in Punjabi literature.

Modern Punjabi literature emerged after 1858 and into the beginning of the twentieth century. The folk romances of Vir Singh, such as Sundari (1898) and Bijay Singh (1899), furnished a basis for modern Punjabi prose while the novels of Nanak Singh (1897-1971) related the qissa and oral tradition to contemporary social problems such as dowry, untouchability and widow remarriage. Modern Punjabi poetry was shaped by the lyrical and narrative poetry of Dhani Ram Chatrik (1876-1954), who drew inspiration from folklore, nature, and mythology, through Puran Singh (1881-1931), who wrote lyrical poetry on the experiences of villages and peasants, and Diwan Singh (1894-1944), who wrote free verse critical of religion and the colonial state.

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Filed under Culture, Literature, Poetry

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