Modernism in Hindi Literature By Trivedi, Harish
The advent of modernism is Hindi literature is commonly dated to the publication in 1943 of an anthology of seven young poets, Tar Saptak (Septet). Besides a selection of his poems, each poet here contributed a prefatory statement of his poetic creed which, together with the introduction by the editor-contributor, Satchidanand Hiranand Vatsyayan ‘Agyeya’, effectively added up to a manifesto. A second Tar Saptak (1951) and then a third (1959), comprising seven newer poets each, consolidated virtually the whole canon of modernist poetry in Hindi, while a belated fourth anthology of seven more poets (1978) signalled no less clearly the exhaustion and decline of the Hindi modernist movement.
At about the same time as the first of these anthologies ‘Agyeya’ published a novel of his own, Shekhar: Ek Jivani (in two parts, 1941, 1944). This autobiographical bildungsroman describes, with astonishing psychological intensity, successive acts of mounting rebellion by the hero: against parental authority, against religious belief and practice, against social conventions, and then against British rule, as a member of a bomb-throwing revolutionary group. The novel opens with him in a prison cell, fully expecting to be hanged. It was instantly acclaimed as the first work of modernist fiction in Hindi and indeed as one of the greatest Hindi novels ever written.