September 23, 2022

The Nepali Literary Community

Nepalese literature has recently advanced by leaps and bounds from the days of the Rana regime, especially when it comes to writing different genres, translating them and reflecting on the voices of the marginalized in literary works. In this article, I have given the Keatsian term “unheard of melodies” to the voices of the marginalized. Here, the marginalized means the subordinates, such as women, Dalits, disabled, poor, illiterate and people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds who have never been heard, etc. Nepalese literature has yet to reach its peak in terms of its effectiveness in bringing the “untold melodies” of the marginalized who have unique socio-cultural, ethnic, religious and geographical experiences that audiences around the world eagerly await to read and enjoy. to research. .

Rana’s regime, which lasted 104 years (1846-1951), prevented writers from writing for the secular, let alone the voices of the marginalized. The writing remained in praise of the Rana regime or the people in power. Literature has become the genre belonging to the societal elite. Social change through writing was a long way off. Krishna Lal Subba was imprisoned for nine years for writing a book titled Makaiko Kheti (1920), meaning “the cultivation of maize”. According to Devendra Pandey, Subba was “seen as trying to influence the collective thinking of the people of Nepal on possibilities for social change that the then regime would not allow”.

Control and censorship

The Gorkha Language Publishing Committee was established in 1913 to control and censor publications. If anyone wishes to publish a book on any subject, they must first bring it to the Gorkha Language Publishing Committee for inspection. If a book is published without the approval of the committee, the publisher will be fined fifty rupees. If the content of the book is inappropriate, the book will be seized and a sanction will be imposed according to the decision of the committee.

However, towards the end of the Rana regime, Michael Hutt writes: “Some writers had begun to reject the classical conventions of the old tradition, others adapted traditional genres and styles to express new concerns”.

In this race, Laxmi Prasad Devkota Muna Madan (1936) became (and still is) the most popular book, a literary genre, a genre of marginalized that depicts the society of that time and the lives of commoners, their daily tasks, love and humanity.

Despite some other genres, like the dramas of Bal Krishna Sama and others, the most flourishing genre then was poetry. The poets then were very active, conscious and revolutionary such as Dharanidhar Sharma, Mahananda Sapkota, Surya Bikram Gyawali, Siddhicharan Shrestha, Laxmi Prasad Devkota and many others. Poetry became the medium of expression, as seen in the poetry of Bijaya Malla, Mohan Koirala, Ramesh Bikal and Bhupi Serchan in the 1960s and 1970s. However, the poetic genre alone could not meet the conditions of marginalized.

The Nepal Academy was established in 1957 to develop and promote Nepalese literature. However, the establishment of the Panchayat system and its one language policy deterred the development of literature in many languages ​​which lasted from 1960 to 1990, meaning that the opportunity for the voices of the marginalized of different ethnic, linguistic and cultural backgrounds remained. a distant shore.

Sajha Prakashan, a government-owned publishing house, started operations in 1964. Some fiction and non-fiction works in the Nepali language have been published. During the 1960s, young writers were influenced by existentialism, Marxism, and Freud, but their dominant tone was social and cultural alienation rather than political rebellion. Reflections of the influence can be seen in the writings of BP Koirala or Parijat, whose poems and novels reflect existentialism and Marxism. Translation works were very rare. Although the literary environment of this time is hopeful, the writings hardly reflect the voice of the marginalized.

Current environment

As publishers and newspapers proliferated and the constitution guaranteed freedom of the press, writing and translation reached a new height. Singh (2014) writes, “Bookstores like Mandala Book Point and Educational Book House have ventured into publishing. Suvani Singh writes, “Nepa-laya has conceptualized a revival of the Nepali language publishing industry, in every way. They not only wanted a new look, but also a new style of writing and a marketing strategy like no other for a book. For example, Palpa Cafe by Narayan Wagle broke records and created new trends.

We now have many publications focusing on different genres and missions. For example, Akshar Creations focuses on women’s writings. Today, many publishing houses are established to publish books of literary genres, such as Fine Print, Phoenix Books, Shikha Publication, Book Hill and many others. Compared to the past, editorial processes and marketing strategies are developing gradually. Manuscripts are reviewed and edited, book production values ​​are of good quality, and promotional campaigns often accompany a book launch.

Compared to the past, current literary writing is more open, decentralized and multivocal. For example, the Madan Prize winner of Rajan Mukaraung Daminivir is what one might call, in the words of Mikhail Bakhtin, “polyphonic”, that is to say that the novel harbors the voices of the marginalized. The novel decenters the center and the traditional form of fiction writing by introducing a movement called ‘srijansil arajakta’, meaning ‘creative anarchy’. Similarly, Bina Thing Tamang’s collection of stories Yambuner, meaning “near Kathmandu”, highlights the voices and lived experiences of the marginalized. Also, Amar Neupane Seto Dharti, which means “white earth”, can be an embodiment to reflect on the lived experiences of marginalized women that today’s younger generation needs to know. We can take many other works of fiction that make the voices of the marginalized heard, such as that of Shyam Saha Pather or at Nayan Raj Pandey ularor Krishna Abiral Kariya or Saraswati Pratixya Natiya or Nilam Karki Niharika Yogmaya.

Abhi Subedi writes, “Nepalese literature in recent times produces works written on subaltern peoples and the ethnic power of aesthetics. This is a new development that is sure to bring new energy to Nepalese literary writing. The whole writing experience in Nepal is linked to this tremendous resurgence of voices, aesthetic perceptions and experimentation.

For the effectiveness of writing any genre, one can introduce unique techniques and tools, language and diction, presentation and structure, rather than just experimenting with the writing itself. And, yes, an audience should be in mind. For a wider readership of Nepali literature, writing in English about the marginalized and making the best translations of the best Nepali writings about them is a must. Moreover, for Nepalese literature to flourish, a healthy three-way relationship between editors, writers and critics seems important.