Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 6 (Jan-Mar 1984) p. 19.


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The Trauma of Independence: Some Aspects of Progressive Hindi Literature, 1945-47

Alok Rai

DHIS paper1,1 should state at the outset, is a preliminary and tentative essay into a vast and intractable domain. The chronological cut-off points, 1945 and 1947, define a period that ranges from the end of World War II in an irrelevant blaze of atomic fury to the long-awaited, blood-stained dawn of Indian freedom in August 1947. It is one of the most crucial and complex periods of our history. It is also, inevitably, a period that continues to be shrouded in controversy and passion, a past that continues to feed into our present in a variety of ways. As such, any attempt at understanding it -- in this case, through examining one strand of its literature is simultaneously difficult as well as necessary. In trying to develop some sense of the experience of these years, I have had to spread a little over the chronological edges, but such spreading has been deliberately, precisely, marginal. The experiences which are subsumed under the broad category of Partition have been, not surprisingly returned to and re-worked in later, changed contexts. The trauma of Partition has, over the years, modulated into the enduring fact, the evolving tragedy of Partition, of communal strife. It might indeed be interesting to undertake a diachronic study of the changing ways in which the experiences of the Partition have been shaped in fiction *-but that is not what I have tried to do here.

For the purposes of this paper I have, in the main, taken a close look at the relevant files ofHans from late-1944 till the middle of 1948. Students of modern Hindi literature are well aware that Hans was an important literary journal of its time, published monthly from 1933 till its demise in 1952. Though it was never the

Journal of Arts and Ideas 19


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