Sarat Chandra Chatterjee (1876-1938) may be considered one of the three most significant figures of the literary component of the Bengal Renaissance, the other two being Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (1838-1894) and Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). As much as Bankim Chandra is identified with the new age in the Bengali novel, and the development of serious vernacular journalism, and Rabindranath with modern/classical movements in Bengali poetry and music, along with novel ideas in methods of education and teaching, Sarat Chandra, as a novelist and storyteller, perfected the art of narration and critical analyses of a variety of contemporaneous social and political issues, combining with consummate skill and great effectiveness, both urban and rural scenarios within Bengal. Born in a period of great social and political unrest in India, and in close proximity to the greatest flowering of modern Bengali culture, Sarat Chandra evolved a literary style which was at once filled with sympathy for the underdog and the downtrodden, and unequivocal condemnation of all forms of hypocrisy and exploitation. Sarat Chandra's writings have been characterized by their ability to speak directly from the heart, through simple yet elegant imagery, and an exceedingly realistic style of prose which evokes identification with the higher and lower facets of human character. Since Sarat Chandra the creator was more concerned with the compelling issues of his time, including the feudal zamindari system, the status of women in the Indian society and family, the various reform movements in Bengal and India and their inherent strengths and self-contradictions, and the repressions and freedom efforts in colonial India, he is sometimes perceived as more of a "period" writer, whose relevance in a changed world is minuscule. However, one must realize that the very discussion of whether a classic is relevant or otherwise is moot, the same way that one cannot question the timeliness of Dickens simply because the London or Europe of the early nineteenth century no longer exists.
Translation Copyright © 1996, Monish Ranjan Chatterjee
HarperCollins Publishers India
Place of Publication
New Delhi, India
Chatterjee, Monish Ranjan, "Translation of 'Profiles in Faith'" (1996). Electrical and Computer Engineering Faculty Publications. 359.
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