Novel Society Culture
Question 1: Outline the changes in technology and society which led to an increase in readers of the novel in eighteenth-century Europe.
Answer: There were many innovations in the print technology which made it possible to print large number of copies. Literacy level increased in Europe during this period. People became more affluent and had more spare time. Effective marketing strategies also helped in increasing the sale of novels. Many authors could become free from the stranglehold of patrons and thus could experiment with literary styles. These factors led to an increase in readers of the novel in eighteenth century Europe.
Explain the following:
(a) Social changes in Britain which led to an increase in women readers
Answer: During the eighteenth century, the middle class became more prosperous. Women could get more spare time which they utilised to read and write novels.
(b) What actions of Robinson Crusoe make us see him as a typical colonizer?
Answer: Robinson Crusoe does treat coloured people as humans but as inferior creatures. He rescues them and then enslaves them. He does not ask the name of a slave but gives him a name Friday. These actions reveal that Robinson Crusoe was a typical colonizer.
(c) After 1740, the readership of novels began to include poorer people.
Answer: With the introduction of circulating libraries in 1740; people could get easier access to books.
(d) Novelists in colonial India wrote for a political cause.
Answer: Many novelists were not convinced with the way the colonial rulers portrayed the history and present of India. They wanted to create their own portrayal of India. Many novelists also wanted to establish the superiority of Indian literature and Indian public. These were the reasons that novelists in colonial India wrote for a political cause.
Write short notes on following:
(a) The Oriya novel
Answer: In 1877-78, Ramashankar Ray, a dramatist, began serialising the first Oriya novel, Saudamani. But he could not complete it. Within thirty years, however, Orissa produced a major novelist in Fakir Mohon Senapati (1843-1918). The title of his novel is Chaa Mana Atha Guntha (1902). This novel deals with possession of land. This novel deals with an age old problem of land grabbing in rural India.
(b) Jane Austen’s portrayal of women
Answer: Jane Austen wrote about the rural women of her time. In her novels, the rural women are always preoccupied with finding a suitable match for marriage; in the form of wealthy husbands.
(c) The picture of the new middle class which the novel Pariksha-Guru portrays.
Answer: In this novel, the new middle class was facing the conflict of adapting a modern lifestyle alongwith maintaining the traditional ethos. The characters in his novel are English educated but also masters in Sanskrit. They wear western outfits but keep long hairs. This novels highlights the pitfalls of blind aping of the western culture.
Answer the following questions:
Question 1: Discuss some of the social changes in nineteenth-century Britain which Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens wrote about.
Answer: In the nineteenth century, Europe entered the industrial age. While industrialization created new opportunities of growth and development, it also created new problems for the workers and the city life. It was the ordinary worker, who always suffered in the mad race for profits. Many novelists created stories around the problems of ordinary people in the new cities. Charles Dickens and Emile Zola were the notable authors of this period.
Question 2: Summarise the concern in both nineteenth-century Europe and India about women reading novels. What does this suggest about how women were viewed?
Answer: Women often had to live in the confines of homes. Novels provided them a window to the outer world. Because of novels they could indulge in the pleasure of reading in their privacy. However, women were not encouraged to read or write; especially in India. This shows the biased attitude about women.
Question 3: In what ways was the novel in colonial India useful for both the colonisers as well as the nationalists?
Answer: For the colonizers, novels provided a good source of information about Indian culture and society. They could utilize that knowledge to have a better understanding about India. For the nationalists, many novels provided tools to spread the idea of nationalism. Many nationalist leaders themselves were highly motivated by some novels.
Question 4: Describe how the issue of caste was included in novels in India. By referring to any two novels, discuss the ways in which they tried to make readers think about existing social issues.
Answer: Many authors began to write about the life of lower caste people. For example; Saraswativijayam is a novel about the conflict between Nambuthiri and Nayars. Nayars were the tenants of Nambuthiri in Kerala. This novel is about a Nayar girl who refuses a foolish but rich Namboothiri and instead marries an educated Nayar. They finally migrate to Madras and the husband clears the Civil services examination. This novel shows the importance of education in rising through the social ladder. Similarly, the Bengali novel Titash Ekti Nadir Naam deals with the life of Mallas; a fisher community.
Question 5: Describe the ways in which the novel in India attempted to create a sense of pan-Indian belonging.
Answer: People from all walks of life could read novels. This helped in creating a sense of collective identity on the basis of one’s language. Novels also helped people to understand about the culture of other parts of the country. These aspects helped in creating a sense of pan-Indian belonging.