Sunday, May 01, 2005

Godan - Munshi Premchand

The first time i read a premchand short story was in school - Bade Ghar Ki beti was part of the syllabus. And now i have finally got to reading Godan which some rate as his best book. There is however a problem reading a transalation of someones work , in that you may lose the flavor of the book , which i think has happened in this case. Still It's a very good read( though the spelling mistakes tend to distract you but thats about my only quibble about the book)
The book , set in rural India follows the life of a peasant Hori Ram and his family and people they come in contact with. It attempts to depict the crushing loans a peasant lives under , his exploitation by all and sundry , by the zamindars, the panches , the money lenders. It exposes the hypocrisy of the rich , the high castes and points out the flaws in the poor as well , their actions, their beliefs which serve to keep where they are , crushed under the feet of the rich and powerful. There are also side stories of a miscellany of characters , none really noble or heroic, all flawed in some way or the other , petty, vengeful and ultimately human.
The character that remains with you after you finish the book is undeiably dhunia. Strong willed , sharp tongued, argumentative , soft and hard alternately, loud spoken , opinionated, contradictory everything that i would like in a woman (except my wife!) , she is the character that remains in memory. The chief porotoganist Hori Ram comes across as pathetic loser , though a good man at heart and is representative of a lot that is wrong with India's farmers even today.
This book is indeed a worthwile journey through rural India

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