The Question of Literary Form: Realism in the Poetry and Theater of the 1943 Bengal Famine

  • Sourit Bhattacharya


The 1943–1944 Bengal famine is a watershed in Indian history. Born of a long-term crisis in agriculture and economy in British South Asia and of the immediate reasons of World War II, nationalist agitation, black-marketing practices, and others, the famine responded powerfully to the contemporary socio-economic questions and shaped the literary-cultural productions in its wake. The writers of the famine attempted to understand the causes and effects through their use of literary form. Reading the works of Sukanta Bhattacharya and Bijan Bhattacharya, this chapter investigates how the poets and theater artists spoke of the use of a realist literary vocabulary which would address the suffering of its times, analyse the historical reasons and material conditions responsible for the famine, and help mobilize a trenchant critique of colonialism, imperialism, and establishment politics.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sourit Bhattacharya
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WarwickCoventryUK

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