Social Scientist. v 8, no. 89-90 (Dec-Jan -1) p. 115.

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Progressive Cultural Movement in Bengal

THE impact of the October Revolution was first felt in Bengali literature through the soldier-poet Nazrul Islam, popularly known as the poet of revolt. While in the army, he gave a feast to his soldier comrades with great jubilation at the news of the successful October Revolution; later on he translated the Internationale into Bengali verse and wrote poems in praise of communism. In fact, he went to prison for writing such "seditious" articles and poems.

Saratchandra Chattcrjcc also was greatly influenced by Gorky and other Soviet writers. He boldly declared in his article "Art and Corruption in Literature" in 1924 that modern literature was no longer satisfied with dull and monotonous lives of kings and ^.amindars; it should record the feelings, miseries and sufferings of the downtrodden as in the Soviet literature. Only then would the writers be able to find a place for themselves in world literature.

In spite of this, very little was known to us in those days about Marxism and socialism. All that was spread was a careful slander by the British rulers about the Soviet Union, Marxism, and communism. At the beginning of the thirties, Rabindranath Tagore broke new ground by publishing his Letters from Russia. These were Tagore's first-hand impressions of the practice of socialism in the Soviet Union. This book and some other writings on the Soviet Union by some intellectuals in the country created some interest among the elites. However, a leftist movement in the arts did not gain ground in the country before 1936 when the All-India Progressive Writers^ Conference was held in Lucknow under the presidentship of Premchand. This was possible only when a generation of declassed intellectuals had appeared, who were not only beginning to see a crisis in our culture but sought for a more revolutionary ideology in all spheres.

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