The Hindi language has its roots in the classical Sanskrit language. The language acquired its current form over manycenturies, and still numerous dialectical variations exist. Hindi literature may be traced back to medieval times when poetscomposed in dialects such as Brij-Bhasha and Avadhi. Prose was a late-comer to the Hindi literary scene, and the first work ofprose in Hindi is generally agreed upon as being the fantasy novel Chandrakanta written by Devaki NandanKhatri.
As far as Hindi poetry goes, four prominent stages may be identified in Hindi poetry. These are Bhakti (Devotional e.g. Kabir,Raskhan), Shringar (Eulogizing Beauty e.g. Keshav, Bihari), Veer-Gatha (Extolling Brave Warriors), and Adhunik (Modern).
Kabir (15th century) is known for his Granthavali which contains verses with love as the dominantmotif. He was a major figure of the bhakti (devotional) movement.
Raskhan was another prodigous poet.
Premchand ( 1880 - 1936 ) was a greatnovelist. Of his novels, Godan (The Gift of a Cow, 1936) is considered the best. In this book he sketches rural life inan unparalleled manner. You can never praise this writer enough. Doctors, Lawyers, Land-owners, farmers, and every part of thepre-independence India find voice in his writings. He is with certainty the greatest judge of human nature - as seen from hiswritings - that India produced. His contemporary Leo Tolstoy died nearly the same year as him.
Sumitranandan Pant ( 1900 - 1977 )authored twenty eight published works including poetry, verse plays and essays. Born in Kausani, in the hills of Kumaon, Pant'searly years were spent in great poverty. He later moved to Kalakankar near Allahabad. The mark of the a childhood in the hillscan be seen in his works and his poems resound with an echo of the beauty of nature.
Yashpal ( 1903-76 ) isrenowned for Jhutha Sach (The False Truth, 1958-60), which is regarded as one of the best Hindi novels ever written.
Mahadevi Varma ( 1907 - 1987 ) waseducated in Prayag , where she founded the Prayag Mahila Vidyapitha, promotingthe education of girls. Mahadevi Verma was one of the four pillars of the great Romantic movement in modern Hindi poetry,Chhayavada, the remaining three being Suryakant Tripathi 'Nirala', Jaishankar Prasad and Sumitranandan Pant. Hermysticism led to the birth of a movement called Rahasyavada. She has been compared with Mira Bai, the great 16th centurydevotional poetess, in her lyrical mysticism.
Nagarjun (b. 1911 ), is a major Hindi poet who has also penned a numberof novels, short stories, literary biographies and travelogues. The most popular practising Hindi poet in the last decades of thetwentieth century, Nagarjun is considered as the only poet, after Tulasidas, to have an audience ranging from the rural sectionsof society to the elite. His poems are usually centred around regional topics.
S. H. Vatsyayan ( 1911 - 1987 ),(Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayana), was popularly known by his pen-name Ajneya or Agyeya, was a pioneer of moderntrends not only in the realm of poetry, but also fiction, criticism and journalism. He was one of the most prominent exponents ofthe 'Nayi kavita' (New Poetry) in Hindi, and edited the 'Tar Saptaks'. Amongst the most well-known of his poetry anthologies are'Aangan ke paar dvaar', 'Chakranta-Shila', 'Kitni naavon mein kitni baar', 'Hari ghaas par kshan-bhar', 'Indradhanu raunde hueye' etc. 'His major prose works include 'Shekhar: Ek Jeevani'. Agyeya was an extensive traveller, and in course of his travelsheld visiting positions at various institutions around the world, e.g. UC Berkeley. He received numerous honours such as theSahitya Akademi Award, Jnanpith Award, Bharatbharati Award and the international Golden Wreath Award for poetry.
Vishnu Prabhakar (b. 1912 ), with several short stories, novels, playsand travelogues to his credit, won the Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel, Ardhanarishvara (The Androgynous God orShiva).
Phanishwar Nath 'Renu' ( 1921 - 1977 ) is one of the great Hindi novelists of the post-Premchand era. His masterpiece is Maila Anchal (TheSoiled Border, 1954), a social novel that depicts the life of a region and its people, the backward and the deprived. His shortstory 'Maare Gaye Gulfam'has been made into a film. Another of his short story 'Panchlight'(Petromax)is beautiful in itsdepiction of human behaviour. One can find many parallels between his and Premchand's writings only that if Premchand is a seathan he is a pond, talking in context of depth and expanse.
Shrilal Shukla (b. 1925 ) became renowned for his objective andpurposive satire.
Dharmavir Bharati ( 1926 - 1997 ) wasa renowned Hindi writer and known to many as the editor of the magazine Saaptahik Hindustan. Amongst his famous works are 'Surajka saatva ghoda' (The Seventh Steed of the Sun), and the lyrical play 'Andha-Yug'. The former is a short novella with sevenrelatively independent plots, but each woven together in an integrated whole. It has at places scathing wit, and may be read asmeta-fiction or as an allegory. The latter is a moral allegory that draws its rubric from the Mahabharata but conveys a timelessmessage about degeneration of values in human society. He also wrote some very insightful essays, and some prominent essayantholgies are Thele par Himalaya and Pashyanti.
Nirmal Verma (b. 1929 ) together with Mohan Rakesh, Bhisham Sahni,Kamleshwar, Amarkant and others, is the founder of the Nai Kahani (new short story) in Hindi literature. He is bestknown for his short stories.
Narendra Kohli (b. 1940 ) known for his plays, satires, short storiesand novels, he is best known for his works on Ram katha (Abhyudaya), Mahabharat (Mahasamar) and Vivekanad (Toro Kara Toro). Moredetails at http://www.narendrakohli.org .
Harishankar Parsai: Known for his works of satire that attacked the hypocrisy and corruption rampant invarious walks of life.
Jainendra: An extremely influential figure in 20th century Hindi literature. His works are known for powerfuldepiction of female characters. Major works include 'Sunita', 'Dashartha' etc. Also wrote numerous short stories.
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