Bankimchandra Chatterji is credited with the first novel in an Indian language. He wrote Durgesh Nandini in Bengali in 1865. As though waiting for the event, the first novels in several other Indian languages came to be written in the next 20 years. But, of all the first novelists, Bankimchandra was the only one to pursue his writing; he went on to write 13 novels. He edited a journal for some time and wrote a number of stirring essays.
More than the Indian readers, the English officers waited eagerly for Indian novels and they took the trouble of getting them translated and published in England. But that was not for literary enjoyment. They found the Indian mind inscrutable and an Indian novel took them directly to the kitchen. Bankimchandra experimented with subjects and plots and whatever he wrote testified to his skill. His ‘social' novels were the better and more challenging ones, but in his final phase he switched back to period novels. Anand Math, Debi Chaudhurani, and Sitaram form a trilogy, propounding his interpretation of the Bhagvad Gita to men, women and the society.
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