Munshi Premchand is the most important Hindi writer of the twentieth century. A people's writer, he gave Hindi Fiction a new social awareness and a new sense of purpose.
Premchand's work has a special relevance for children. Many of his stories have Children as their main characters and he writes about them with humour, Insight and rare pathos. His best loved children's stories like Idgah, Dudh Ka Daam and Panch Parmeshwar have been included in this edition, alongwith other well-known stories such as Shatranj Ke Khilari and Bade Ghar Ki Beti.
Sensitively, translated, this collection will help introduce young adults to humane stories about India and its rural environment.
Premchand was born on July 31, 1880, in a small village called Lamahi, near Varanasi. He was then called Dhanpat Rai and only later adopted Premchand as his pen name. His father, Ajaib Lal, was a postal clerk earning Rs. 15 a month. His mother died when he was only eight years old. His father remarried, but Premchand found his stepmother a cruel woman and he used to call her Chachi or 'Auntie'.
When Premchand was only fifteen, his father married him off to a village girl who was unattractive and had a quarrelsome nature. Many years later he remarried, this time a widow, named Shivrani Devi. His second marriage turned out to be much happier and he loved Shivrani Devi deeply.
Premchand wanted to become a lawyer, but he could not pass his intermediate examination in spite of several attempts. Unfortunately he failed each time as he was poor in mathematics.
Premchand has written about his childhood with great feeling. "O childhood," he wrote in one of his stories, "it is impossible to forget you! The broken mud-house, the straw bed, bare body, bare-footed wandering in the fields, climbing mango trees. To wear village-made shoes gave more joy than a pair of Flex footwear today. The hot juice of raw mangoes was tastier than any modern cold drink, the gram and unripe berries more sweet than grapes and the finest sweets.
He studied Urdu and Persian in a school run by a Maulvi Sahib, but usually he and his friends never attended school. The Maulvi Sahib kept no attendance register, nor did he impose any fine for not attending. Premchand and his friends would run away to a nearby railway station and spend their day counting the number of wagons on the trains that went by.
When Premchand's father died, he took up a job as a school teacher. It was during this time that he started writing short stories. He has written over 300 stories, only forty of which have been translated into English. He also wrote many novels and film scripts. He died on October 8, 1936 at the age of fifty-six.
Premchand is the most important Hindi writer of the twentieth century. He gave Hindi fiction a new social awareness and a new sense of purpose. He was a people's writer who wrote about the life of the common man in a language they could understand. In this he reminds us of famous poets like Tulsidas and Kabir.
Premchand's world is a world of struggling peasants, cruel money-lenders and landlords, and ill-treated widows. He wrote against social injustice and against hypocrisy. He also wrote against the ill-treatment meted out to people belonging to the lower classes. Premashram, Seva-Sadan, Sapt-Saroj, Sangram, Ranga Bhumi and Godan are some of his well-known works.
1. Idgah (Idgah)
2. Splashes From a Car (Motor Ke Chheente)
3. The Thakur's Well (Thakur Ka Kuan)
4. Lottery (Lottery)
5. My Elder Brother (Bade Bhai Saheb)
6. The Holy Panchayat (Panch Parameshwar)
7. Man's Highest Duty (Manushya Ka Param Dharam)
8. The Chess Players (Shatranj Ke Khilari)
9. The Price of Milk (Dudh Ka Daam)
10. The Well-Bred Daughter (Bade Ghar Ki Beti)