Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture Essay

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English writing has taken a new evolutionary path in its development since Independence. India was observed post-colonially by English writers of Indian origin. While new ideas were being developed, emphasis was placed on religious, socio-economic, filial, and political problems as talking points; these issues captured the national movement sensation and attracted the attention of creative writers. Events like the partition and the resulting communal riots following it, coupled with the problems of caste discrimination, misogyny and the squalor in which the proletariat lived, were the major issues of the time. The clamour raised over these issues is massive, with many budding writers boosting the perception of literature as time passes. This paper seeks to evaluate and provide insight into the progress of English writing over a time period ranging from the post- independence period till the present time. Writing veterans who displayed the fifties' realism in their works are also compared with the burgeoning present day writers who bring their modern perspective to bear in appraising past ideas. Readers' attention is also drawn to the evolving language use patterns (Sharma, 2016, p. 60).

At the twilight of the 1960s and the dawn of the 1970s, the cultural, political, and societal changes that characterized this period were accompanied by a drastic transformation of theoretical discourse, which led to fresh possible approaches to literature. Significant changes in the quality and role played by academic disciplines occurred in the 1970s, coupled with similar changes in the structure and functions of universities, which had to accommodate newly-emergent political discourse in the wake of the initial momentum of leftist, feminist and civil rights movements, thus creating an unusual direction for academic discussions. The successive emphasis on pervasive textuality after the structuralist period (although this emphasis suffered a slow decline towards the end of the twentieth century), resulted in a combination of obliterating the boundaries between initially separate discourses and triggering a reversal in the conjectural and epistemological standing of the theoretical dialogue, giving rise to many speculative outlooks, an example of which is 'culture studies' and the creation of some basic terminologies utilized by philosophers, writers, critics, readers, and theoreticians inclusive (Adamczewski, 2013, p. 12).

Categories of Modern Indian Literature in the Post-Colonial Times

Following the attainment of independence by India during the turbulent mid-1947 period, the consequentially abrupt changes in administrative and governmental policies led to negative effects on the freshly re-christened 'Indian citizens'. Indian literature clearly depicted the country's then recent partition and her stagnant economy, this was a nation that was plunged from a colonial ruling system of over 200 years into a locally-run and nearly-unfamiliar system of governance. This situation led to self-evident genres in Indian literature, with only few authors and writers shouldering the responsibility of retaining consciousness of societal norms. The Indian diaspora was also created by the postcolonial Indian literature, with groups refusing to be associated with the local administrative set-up, and moving to the lands occupied by ex-masters who derided Indians as slaves. Themes indicating a lack of touch with nature and veneration started to surface in Indian literature, while the nascent communities of tribal literature voiced their vulnerability, dissatisfaction and protests (Sharma, pp. 62-63).

The morals, beliefs, and values of classical Indian literature that originated during the initially departed Vedic Period have been resuscitated by Indian English literature. A vast response of modernism in Indian literature has been birthed by this category of postcolonial Indian English or regional literature. It should be noted, however, that a restricted sense of ubiquity in the 20th and 21st centuries only is not the only definition of modernism. Modernism in Indian literature can also not be confined strictly to only English authors. Ancient Indian literature also displayed proclivities and tendencies of taking a modernistic approach; Tagore was for example described as a man 'much ahead of his times' (Sharma, p. 63).

Features That Guided Literature in Colonial and Post-Colonial India

Initially, the colonial period was discussed humorously, craftily, and quite cunningly in Indian literature, however, a crucial and critical approach with extreme dimensions was taken in discussing this period due to the brutal domination of the British Raj (Sharma, pp. 63-64). Hestetun correctly cautions against a generalized perception in which "the literatures of settler populations are put into the same category as the literatures of colonized peoples" (cited in Shands, 2008, p. 9). The arrival of Europeans in Indian territory was one of such features which had started since the reign of Mughal emperor Jehangir.

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Yet, the greatest influence on Indian literature remains the British domination -- starting with the east India Company- which lasted for about 200 years, and was characterized by cruel rulership. Indian literature was irreversibly altered by these influences- either the company or the British Empire. Regions within India were converted to provinces, and presidency administrations were established in the foremost port cities. The whole administrative system was restructured, slowly but significantly affecting the masses and the elite alike (Sharma, p. 63).

India's cultural uniqueness, evidenced in her moral systems and beliefs, were totally crushed by English supremacy and domination. Attempts to preserve this uniqueness and revolt the foreign supremacy was a hallmark of regional Indian Literature, and seen as a social responsibility for any Indian author. A benevolent perception of cultural influence on Indian literature was held generally; some writers made efforts to support nationalists, while others spearheaded the depiction of Englishmen as vicious. At any rate, Indian literature was enormously impacted from each and every outlook of its progress (Sharma, pp. 63-64).

The arrival, permeation and acceptance of the English language as the primary and foremost manner of communication was yet another trail blazing aspect; initially for the elite and their associates, then subsequently for the common people; the masses. The 'benevolent' Englishmen who put the onus on themselves and took up the responsibility of dispensing justice to the natives had plans to establish an exceptional image in the minds of the local populace by placing English literature and English language in the knowledge and consciousness of each and every Indian citizen. English language therefore stands as one of the most significant factors influencing the Indian literature. Indian literature was so severely under the colonial influence that it had become a familiar and trivial issue for both the Indians who were being ruled, and the Britons who ruled them; neither of them saw it as anything strange. It had become quite evident that if India were ever to become one of the colonies of the British Empire, any kind of literary creation from Indian nationals would be eternally and indelibly influenced by the colonial masters, either done in English or any local Indian languages. A vague distinction was however still retained in these' colonial master-colonized people's relationships; consistent efforts were being made by the Indians to get rid of their colonial masters. This aim was eventually achieved in the year 1947 when India gained independence following 200 years of servitude, oppression, and being dominated (Sharma, p. 64).

Following the division of India, and the accompanying gloom, obscurity and darkness, which enormously affected every contemporary Indian of the time, was quite evidently reflected in the appellation 'Indian diaspora' with the agglomeration of writers and authors who belonged to this niche. These form the basic and fundamental bedrock of postcolonial influences on Indian literature, including the intermittent regional literature produced in the 21st century. At the cradle of Indian literature, there still exist- in a very intact form- the conceptual notions of helpless anxiety, restlessly angry young men, and the veiled attributes of autonomous, uniquely Indian human psychology, these have however been channelled in new directions based on the slow advent of globalization and its impact on Indian literature (Sharma, p. 64).

The Creation of Modern Indian Literature

Surprising variations in form and region of production are characteristic attributes of contemporary Indian literature, which has been around for about a hundred and fifty years (Sharma, p. 64).

An in-depth comprehension of the similar terms: 'modern', 'modernity', and 'modernisation' in an Indian contextual framework is highly necessary before plunging deeply into the highly-varied genre of contemporary Indian literature. These three terms are highly important and complexly interrelated in the context of modernism which is being considered. If a chronological….....

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Primary Source

Sharma, N. (2016). Contemporary Trends in Indian Writing in English-Post-Independence Perspective. The Aesthete: An e-Journal of Department of English & Foreign Languages, 1, 60-68. Retrieved from

Secondary Sources

Adamczewski, T. (2013). A New Territory? Literary Criticism as a Literary Genre. Crossroads in Literature and Culture, Springer. 11-23. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-21994-8_2

Kumar, K. (1995). From Post-Industrial to Post-Modern Society: New Theories of the Contemporary World. Australia: Blackwell Publishing.

Shands, K. W. (2008). Neither East nor West: Postcolonial Essays on Literature, Culture and Religion. Sweden: Elanders.

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