Mahfil, vol. 1, no. 2 10
PBEM QHAm): 1.881-19^6 Introduction.
Probably no single author has done more to change the face of both Urdu and Hindi literatures than Dhanpat Rai Srivastava orPrem Chand.. On the one hand, he established in these literatures such prose genres as the novel and short story; on the other, as a stylist and technician) he brought these genres to exceptionally high levels of literary sophistication. At first writing primarily in Urdu, then later in Hindi, Prem Chand led the prose literature of these languages from their never-never land of fantasy and myth to contemporary India where famine, death, hypocrisy and social injustice abounded,
If one major theme dominates all of Prem Ghand's works, that theme is peasant India» The settings for his stories are not palaces or courts, but rather the Italian village or town. No longer is the hero a handsome prince,, or the heroine a beautiful princess;
instead, Prem Chand creates complex, vital human beings: the peasant, his wife, the politician, the satyagrahi, all of whom work cheat, starve, love, hate, and pray as surely as they breathe.
Prem Chand's vast literary output, including twelve novel and 220 short stories, depict an entire epoch of Indian history-India under the British in a period of tremendous social, religious and intellectual change. A product of this change, he induced other to continue the process. As a participant in the formation of the Progressive Writers Association, Prem Chand was instrumental in bringing to Indian literatures the concept of 'socialist realism.' It is this concept which is the greatest single intellectual force in Urdu and Hindi literature since mysticism, and which, even to the present day, actively manifests itself in Urdu and Hindi, as well as other Indian, literatures.
Most of Prem Chand's writings have been translated into the various Indian languages, as well as in numerous languages of the world. A great deal of information about him is available in English, See the bibliography on page 21 •
In this issue of Mahfil we present two selections by Prem Chand. The first is a chapter from his last complete novel, GODAN, which, critics agree, is probably his finest work. The translation from the Hindi is by Mr, Gordon Koadarmel who is translating the whole of GODAN for UNSSCO. The second selection, translated into Engl^sh^for the first time, is a short didactic tale, The Test, (Parlksa), from his early period. The translation from the Hindi is by *Mr. John Roberts.