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Indian literature (non-english) > Bengali literature

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Saikat Mukherjee (SaikatMJee) | 12 comments Couldn't find a discussion topic on Bengali literature which happens to have enormously rich past, present & hopefully future too.
So starting as a lone Bengali literature fan out here...lets see if I can find someone with similar taste.


message 2: by Kunal (last edited Dec 02, 2011 02:44PM) (new)

Kunal Sen | 484 comments Saikat, glad to find this thread. For the sake of discussion, I'll divide Poetry in terms of era and rest of fiction in terms of form:-

POETRY

Pre 1960

Out of the 'big five' (Nazrul, Rabindranath, Rajanikanta Sen, G.C. Ghosh and Atul Prasad), I love Tagore and Kanto Kobi the most, although Tagore was the best (and most prolific) composer of the lot. 'Tumi Nirmalo Karo', Momo chitte', 'Purano Shei Diner', 'Ore Grihobashi', 'Ogo Videshini'; favorites all.


The Modern Era

Of this era, I think the two most original and esoteric voices in poetry-writing have been those of Joy Goswami and Srijato.


FICTION


DRAMATISTS

In my opinion, Utpal Dutt remains peerless still, as a playwright in the Baangla theater scene.


SHORT STORIES

Of course, Sukumar Ray was India's most talented writer of nonsense verse. 'Aabol Taabol' is a long time favorite.

Satyajit Ray's 'Feluda' is my favorite fictional character from Bengal, although one must admit that Sharadindu's 'Byomkesh' stories had much superior plots.


NOVELISTS

I like Sankar (Jana Aranya, Chowringhee) and Sunil Gangopadhyay (Aranyer Din Ratri, Pratidwandi), though I've read them more in translation by Arunava Sinha and the others. Among the older Bengali novels, I've read Tagore ('Gora', 'Kabuliwallah') and Bibhutibhushan as well, to middling satisfaction, although I consider Tagore's 'Shesher Kobita' to be a masterpiece.

I shall also, always revere Sarat Chandra for imparting his characters with such feudal sadomasochism.

There is no question in my mind that the best overall Bengali novelist is Buddhadev Bose. In fact, he's one of the all time greats of Indian literature. Writing in that cusp between modernism and postmodernism, his works are timeless, challenging, exasperating.


Anbu (Anbutheone) | 4455 comments Wow.. So much info about Bengali literature.. Thank you Kunal..:)


Parikhit | 3403 comments Indeed Kunal. Thanks!

Honestly I am ashamed that I can't read Bangla (Bangla being my mother-tounge). I have been missing out on so many Bengali books stacked at home. Translations are good enough as opposed to starting to read and write Bangla now??


message 5: by Kunal (last edited Dec 05, 2011 07:52AM) (new)

Kunal Sen | 484 comments Translations are good place to start. Then if you feel that you HAVE TO read the originals, you could do that later. Bangla is simple to pick up in any case, being a cousin of the devnagari. I'm self-taught as well.

You must have discovered the Feluda stories by now, the Penguin editions translated by Gopa Majumdar as they're hard to miss. However, the translations themselves feel succinct and functional. Some of the humour and atmosphere is thus lost. I personally preferred Chitrita Banerjee's translations for the first Feluda book. Gopa's style is drier, though one must say she does a meticulous job of even translating a few word puzzles (Ghurghutiyar Ghatona) into puzzles of her own.

You must get someone to recite 'Aabol Taabol' (Sukumar Ray) to you- it is full of nonsense rhymes and esoteric imagery, and a lot of it will invariably be lost in translation.

Sankar is an author that is more acceptably translated as his language was never verbose and lyrical, but rather, more sedate and minimal. So, Arunava Sinha's translations work very, very well. I suggest you start with 'The Middleman' (Jana Aranya) and then read 'Chowringhee'. Th latter is a flitting narrative, the former is tighter in scope so that sequence of reading would work better.

Sunil Gangopadhyay is tricky. He can be simple as well as ambitious. So, it would depend on volume to volume. But there's no way one can skip Sunil G if one wants to complete a true experience of Bengali literature. So, take a chance on his translations. Start with the smaller pieces then go further up if you like his style.

Clinton Seely has done an outstanding job of translating Buddhadev Bose. The translation is nearly as rich, lyrical and evocative as the original text, quite like Jay Rubin does to Murakami I'm told.


Parikhit | 3403 comments Kunal wrote: "Translations are good place to start. Then if you feel that you HAVE TO read the originals, you could do that later. Bangla is simple to pick up in any case, being a cousin of the devnagari. I'm se..."

Thanks a ton Kunal. I've read a few Tagore translations and Sharat Chandra translations. The latter was a disaster. There was one story called 'Abhagi's Paradise', the translation for 'Abhagir Swargo', I later found. It ripped the essence apart. The other transalations, that you cited, I've seen. And I am teaching myself Bangla as well. Progressed a teeny-weeny bit. Some Bangla words take me ages to read and decipher. Is there some 'easy' novel I could begin with to improve my Bangla reading?


Kunal Sen | 484 comments 'Jana Aranya' has quite simple and accessible language


Avisek Bandyopadhyay | 342 comments Somehow, Prafulla Roy is missing from the list !! If one reads, Mahajudher Ghora or Amake Dekhun, he would acknowledge his tremendous command over his novels !!


Harsha Unnikrishnan (harshau) | 615 comments I have read malayalam translations of some bengali novels and liked them all.. especially prathama prathishruthi by ashapoorna devi, and it's two sequels- (i don't know what they are called in bengali..)
also have read bibhooti bhooshan bandopadhyaya's Pather Panchali and the subsequent two.. and also sarat chandra chatterjee's devdas...


Kunal Sen | 484 comments Ashapurna Devi and Subodh Ghosh are two more authors begging to be translated


Soumya Koley (SoumyaKoley) | 4 comments bengali readers can try Akhtaruzzaman Elias' "Chlie Kothar Sepai" (Soldier in Attic)...I enjoyed reading this but can't find any entry in Goodreads.


Soumya Koley (SoumyaKoley) | 4 comments among the new bengali writers I like Tillottama Majumder, Sangeeta Banerjee, Prochet Gupta. My source of newer bengali writings are Pujabarshiki "Desh" and "Anandabazar"...I dont get regular magazines as i'm out of Kolkata for long time, i pick pujabarshikis whenever i travel there (or atleast ask my friends to pick them if i cant be there during puja)


Avisek Bandyopadhyay | 342 comments Any one read Na Hanyate by Maitrayee Devi ??


message 14: by Soumya (last edited Jan 31, 2012 12:51PM) (new)

Soumya Koley (SoumyaKoley) | 4 comments Avisek wrote: "Any one read Na Hanyate by Maitrayee Devi ??"

i did, though i've not read its couterpart "the bengali nights". "Na Hanyate" may not be the milestone of bengali novels but i liked it for its simple straight from heart approach. The closing part is like a romantic poem.


Soumya Koley (SoumyaKoley) | 4 comments Just an add to Kunal's post, in Poetry section, bengali modern poetry and so called post-Rabindranath era started with Jibonananda Dash and the legacy continued with Shakti Chattopadhyay, Shakha Ghosh...then came Hugry Generation Poetry (it was like beat movement in US, during this time Allen Ginsberg visited Calcutta) which leads to Post modern poetry of Sunil Gangopadhyay, Sandipan Chattopadhyay, Binoy Majumder, Mallika Sengupta etc etc (basically its a endless list).


Shankhadip Chakraborty (shankhadipc) | 1 comments swami Vivekananda anyone? I just love his and sriram krishnadevas literature on life and how to rid the world of hatred. I am just a youngster but their teachings are eligible for everyone.


Avisek Bandyopadhyay | 342 comments Guys, recommend me something new and good in Bengali literature !! A rising star would be preferable.


Anwesha | 7 comments Avisek wrote: "Any one read Na Hanyate by Maitrayee Devi ??"

one of my all time favorites!!


Anwesha | 7 comments I would like to add the sci-fi genre, Professor Shanku series by Satyajit Roy is my all time favorite.

Byomkesh Bokshi by Saradindu Bandopadhayay needs to be mentioned in crime fiction.
among the veteran authors, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Balaichand Mukhopadhyay, Rajshekhar Basu, Samaresh Majumdar, Suchitra Bhattacharaya, Manik Bandopadhyay are worth mentioning.

has anyone read any of Humayun Ahmed?


Anwesha | 7 comments Avisek wrote: "Guys, recommend me something new and good in Bengali literature !! A rising star would be preferable."

check out some of Smaranjit Chakraborty.


Sayan Acharjee (Tux_Boi) | 212 comments Any Shibram Chakraborty fan here? :D
He is still my favorite author after all these years, no once cracked me up till date like he used to :)


Sayan Acharjee (Tux_Boi) | 212 comments Sohini wrote: "Sayan wrote: "Any Shibram Chakraborty fan here? :D
He is still my favorite author after all these years, no once cracked me up till date like he used to :)"

No one can lit up a spoilt mood like th..."


Well, you don't say. :D
Even the names of the short stories are hilarious, e.g.,

Hati niye hatahati
Ghora niye ghoraghuri
moi niye hoichoi

LOL.


Anwesha | 7 comments Sohini wrote: "Sayan wrote: "Any Shibram Chakraborty fan here? :D
He is still my favorite author after all these years, no once cracked me up till date like he used to :)"

No one can lit up a spoilt mood like th..."


agree with you Sohini!


Avisek Bandyopadhyay | 342 comments But, when Bengali movies (Tollywood) are continuously raising the bar...u have to see Autograph, Angshumaer Chobi, Eti Mrinalini to understand what I mean..Why isnt a new breed of Bengali author up to replace the old brigade ?? We do need new Prafulla Roy or Samaresh Majumder or Sunil Gangopadhyay..


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

Avisek wrote: "Any one read Na Hanyate by Maitrayee Devi ??"

I finished it only yesterday. And I'm so very eager to read "Maitreyi" by Mircea Eliade.


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Doesn't anyone read Smaranjit Chakraborty's writings here?


Gatha  G Namboothiri (Gatha) | 300 comments I don't know Bengali language,so don't know if this will count.But I read a lot of translations like Pather Panchali series. Am also a huge fan of Ashapurna Devi.I have read her works like Prathamaprathi shruti and Suvarnalatha.


Anwesha | 7 comments Damini wrote: "Avisek wrote: "Any one read Na Hanyate by Maitrayee Devi ??"

I finished it only yesterday. And I'm so very eager to read "Maitreyi" by Mircea Eliade."


I guess you are talking about "La Nuit Bengali"


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

@ Anwesha

http://d.gr-assets.com/books/13038964...
This is the book I'm talking about.


Anwesha | 7 comments Damini wrote: "@ Anwesha

http://d.gr-assets.com/books/13038964...
This is the book I'm talking about."


oh, yeah, the same book, I referred to the french title.


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

Anwesha wrote: "Damini wrote: "@ Anwesha

http://d.gr-assets.com/books/13038964...
This is the book I'm talking about."

oh, yeah, the same book, I referred to the french title."


I'm reading the Bengali translation of it now.


message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

Has anyone read 'Abar yadi ichcha kara' by Narayan Sanyal?


Sudhamay | 113 comments Damini wrote: "Has anyone read 'Abar yadi ichcha kara' by Narayan Sanyal?"

No I have not. Could you write a short synopsis and your View.


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

Sure, Sudhamay.

It is basically the story of two famous painters, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, but the author describes their lives in Indian background naming them Chandravan Gorg (who was later baptized to Christianity and named Vincent Van Gorg) and Gaganbihari Paul (who would call himself Paul Gauguin). Quite obviously he had to change some of the incidents of the lives of the original painters and add some to make them realistic.
For me, it was an extremely interesting read from the beginning till the end. Their childhood, how their lives took turn and they decided to become painters-everything is portrayed brilliantly, the narration, I must say, is simple yet beautiful! Interesting thing is that none of their paintings were sold during their lifetime (though one of Vincent's was sold, he was unaware of it). The last few years of their lives were pretty tragic, especially that of Van Gogh's(and this part of the book made me cry!).
In one word, the book is amazing. You won't be disappointed if you read it (and if you're fond of painting, you'll love it even more!).


Anwesha | 7 comments Damini wrote: "Sure, Sudhamay.

It is basically the story of two famous painters, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, but the author describes their lives in Indian background naming them Chandravan Gorg (who was ..."


wow! this sounds very very interesting! I'm thinking of giving it a go.


Sudhamay | 113 comments Damini wrote: "Sure, Sudhamay.

It is basically the story of two famous painters, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, but the author describes their lives in Indian background naming them Chandravan Gorg (who was ..."


Thank you for the synopsis. It sounds very good. Let me check online book shops where i can buy it.


message 37: by [deleted user] (new)

Well, I hope both of you are gonna enjoy the reading! :)


Sudhamay | 113 comments Damini wrote: "Well, I hope both of you are gonna enjoy the reading! :)"

I searched Flipkart, NDTV Shopping, Amazon and Boimela no luck !!!!


message 39: by Parikhit (last edited Mar 13, 2013 11:53AM) (new)

Parikhit | 3403 comments Alas! too late to learn Bengali and read Bengali novels. I just have to do without them.

@Kunal, sorry. I cannot learn Bangla now. My brain just gibes up but thanks for suggesting Chowringhee and The Middleman. Done with the former and got myself a copy of the latter and I cannot wait to start it.


Lit Bug | 1350 comments I am a non-Bangla but have always been fascinated by the melody of Bangla. I try to pick up Bangla language and its written script wherever and whenever I can, eg, by trying to listening to Bangla songs, old and new, listening to Rabindra sangeet and reading the text of their songs, prying out their meanings, reading Geetapanchashati with its translations, comparing them word to word, so that I can understand the original Bangla itself step-by-step, trying to decipher alphabets on store hoardings, etc. But I guess that's simply not enough.

Can someone point out a good grammar book for learning Bangla? Checked out local stores, not available anywhere. Keenly interested in learning Bengali. Actually, desperate.


Lit Bug | 1350 comments Can only understand 'Amar Shonar Bangla' without having to remember the words or grammar or meaning without any effort...


Lit Bug | 1350 comments Plus, I'm very interested in Bangla songs... Those I like are 'Amar Shonar Bangla', a few Rabindra sangeet songs I can't recall the lyrics of, some of Hridoy Khan's (Bangladeshi singer) songs (Bhalo Bashi bolo na), 'Tumi amar jibone esho', and 'Shesh dekha bandha topu'. "Ekla cholo re' of course. (ei kotha ti mone rekho by Kishore da, similarly old songs... I hope someone suggests good songs...

So though I know this is a place to discuss literature, I don't know how else to attract the attention of so many Bengalis at once.. My apologies for any deviances from the thread.


Kunal Sen | 484 comments don't want to clutter the thread. am messaging you some recos though.


Saiswaroopa | 7 comments Could someone help me with the Pradip Bhattacharya's traslation of Bankim ji's Krishna Charitra? I have the other translation by Alo Shome.


message 45: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 20, 2013 04:17AM) (new)

Thanks for starting this discussion....couldn't find anything related to bengali in the site, glad to find this.

I've never read books by Bengali authors except "Making A Mango Whistle" by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay. And that also was translated in English. Anyways, I loved it!!


Lit Bug | 1350 comments Prothom Alo by Sunil Gangopadhyaya - I am looking for an English translation of this novel. Anybody who knows whether it has been translated, and under what title if it has been, please let me know. Thanks.


Harsha Unnikrishnan (harshau) | 615 comments Recently read a Malayalam translation of Aranyak by Bibhooti Bhooshan Bandopadhyay. Very thought provoking novel. Though it would have been better if the translation was edited better...


Sanchita Sarkar | 16 comments Another bengali author was Satyajit Ray. I have read his feluda series and become a fan of his writing. Below is my review for it:
http://sanchitasarkar.wordpress.com/2...

I am looking for Professor Shonku series now. Its amazing to see he wrote a science fiction way back when science fiction movies were not made anywhere.


Shounak (Shounak023) | 238 comments Sayan wrote: "Any Shibram Chakraborty fan here? :D
He is still my favorite author after all these years, no once cracked me up till date like he used to :)"


Sure I AM A HUGE FAN ! :)


Sudhamay | 113 comments Is this thread still alive ?

I had little time to check previous posts.
I would like to add Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and Buddhadeb Guha to the list.

I am not sure where you can find translated one's from them.


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প্রথম আলো (other topics)

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Sunil Gangopadhyay (other topics)
Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay (other topics)
Buddhadeb Guha (other topics)