Strength and Weakness
Manohar Bandopadhyay
PREMCHAND: HIS LIFE AND WORK by V.S. Naravane Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 1980, 291 pp., 75.00
Nov-Dec 1980, volume 5, No 11/12

The literature available on Munshi Premchand, regarded as the father of the modern Hindi novel, is scanty. Hansraj Rahbar’s book on Premchand (1958) is extensive thematically but marred by chronological inaccuracies. Prakash Chandra Gupta’s monograph, published some twelve years ago, is too sketchy to provide a comprehensive view of the novelist. Robert O. Swan’s research work, Munshi Premchand of Lamhi Village (1969) reads well for about a quarter of the book but his study of Premchand’s novels leaves much to be desired. Viewed in this perspective Naravane’s volume is a valuable contribution to critical assessment of Premchand’s life and works, in English. Appearing as it does during the birth centenary year of Premchand it is a welcome enterprise by the author. In all senses his book emerges as the first ever comprehensive document on the subject. Judiciously organized, the book deals with the life of the novelist in the first four chapters and devotes the rest of the volume to an evaluation of his work and situates the novelist in the realm of Hindi writ­ing. In doing so he has slipped inevit­ably into repetitions though he has cautiously guarded himself against it.

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