(Last Updated on : 28/03/2013)
Western Influences on Assamese Literature
has brought in a new era of various new techniques in prose and poetry which was never attempted before. Literature of one language does cast its influence on another language is a universal discourse. What confirms in the total process of absolute metamorphosis is the change in matter, form outlook. The socio-cultural differences mark the fusion of these two languages marked by the geographical proximity. A new language flourishes which is betrothed as well as amalgamated India as for example India having a common cultural and religious heritage. Morden Indian literature, more specifically Assamese Literature has come under the influence of foreign literatures. Spreading of English by British subsequently during the political subjugation at first led to the germination of western literary influence. European literary concepts like Romanticism, Marxism, Freudianism, Surrealism, Existentialism, have conglomerated their strains throughout the mavericks of Indian literature. Again the political upheavals, the breakdown of public morals, and economic progress continue to affect present day writers. The concept of a common vision or a common school or a single, particular school cannot characterize contemporary Assamese literature. The ready availability of newly published works from around the world the advent of technology and Mass Media, and the easy access to travel and study across the world all influenced writers in various ways.
The impact of Western romantic poetry has revitalized and popularised patriotism as a poetic theme for Assamese literature. Among the patriotic poets, the most outstanding are K. K. Bhattacharjya, L. N. Bezbaroa and A. G. Rai-Chaudhury. This had diversified into different forms, one being the verse-satire. Western literature has popularised satire. The impact of Western literature during British rule has created a new tendency in the literary history of Assam. It has enriched Assamese literature with new technique and forms like drama and novel, story and essay, journalism and poetry. In poetry blank verse was introduced; the sonnet was another innovation. Along with lyric grew ballad. Ancient folk ballad was also renovated.
As a result of the broadened horizon of the literary zone, the new age literature is poetical and philosophic, human and instilled with a new passion, factual and free in style. Western literary influences had a direct impact post Jonaki era
. The influx of new ideas due to this impact gave Assamese literature a new evolutionary stamina and standard. Literature was humanized and a harmony in language emerged. This age had witnessed a wide literary frontier.
Western influence on Assamese prose
Bhrama ranga (1888) was the translation of Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors. Modern drama experienced new technical development and it was presented in "acts" and "scenes". Devices like "asides" and "soliloquies" were imbued in order to give a concerted effect to the drama. Under Western impact, tragedy was introduced as a new form of drama, Shakespeare and Seneca inevitably being the inspiration. The influence has increased in recent times. The three basic Aristotelian unities have been introduced including the unity of plot and action in Indian literature.
New forms like the short story, novel and essay had been introduced under Western inspiration. Technically, the short story is different from existing folk-tales. The modern short story has developed technically and subject matter along with variety and vision. Beginning with L. N. Bezbaroa (1868-1938) and Sarat Goswami (1884-1944), the short story has established itself in variety and potentiality of technique and subject-matter. Maupassant, Chekov, Somerset Maugham and Katherine Mansfield have influenced the short story genre in Assamese Literature.
The formal and informal essay is a western concept which had been introduced under the patronage of the Jonaki. Through essays on historical subjects, a new analytical process of study has emerged which men like Dr. S. K. Bhuyan and Benu Sarma have mastered. Literary criticism which is a new development in Assamese literature has contributed to the widening of literary subject-matter and intensification of aesthetic study. One of the best examples of the informal essay is those of L. N. Bezbaroa's.
Western Influence on Assamese Poetry
Modern age in Assamese literature is an age of poetry. The history of modern Assamese literature is an accelerated drift from one extreme to another which was possible due to Western education. Modern lyric poetry grew under Western inspiration. The modern age of Assamese poetry is an era that synchronizes with an all-round development of the lyric itself.
The modern Assamese poets under the inspiration of Western poetry idealized passion in the manner of simple peasant-singers. L. N. Bezbaroa's Malati and Pharing premikar jui, Hem Goswami's Priyalamar chithi and Kako am hiya nibilao, G. K. Agarwalla's Madhuri, reveal romantic possibilities of poems which have been composed in a simple style. Under Western inspiration, imagination is extended to common objects of life and nature with an artistic vision. Under Western inspiration, the attention of poets shifted to simple objects of nature and life. This has led to considerable widening in the range of subject-matter and rational perception and emotional responses. The attitude of poets had undergone a change.
Different romantic elements which had been standardised by Rousseau's philosophy, like pursuit of the dream-woman, aspiration for the infinite and few more had crystallized into modern Assamese poetry. There has been the growth of a new poetry of mysticism. Nalini Devi is considered as one of the major mystic poets. A. G. Rai-Chaudhury is also considered as one of them. Western romantic poetry had recreated mysticism. The songs of saint-poets like Sankardeva and Madhavdeva
added intensity to these basic mystic concepts thereby encouraged a temper for creative responses of a mystic type in modern poetry.
As regards the modern Assamese literature, it is thoroughly influenced by Bengali literature which is massive irresistible having a cult of its own. Though, it is hardly easy to interpret the exact areas of influence, Tagore's influence upon such mystic poets of Assam like Dharmeshwari Devi Baruani, Ratnakanta Barkakati, Nanibala Devi is perceptible mainly because Tagore brought the essence of ancient Indian culture and philosophy out of the closet making it more easily perspicuous. Poets like Jibanananda Das
, Sudhindranath Dutta, Buddhadev Bose
, have had cast an all consuming influence on Assamese poetry.
Modern Assamese literature is imbibed with the inheritance of a rich legacy from the ancient classics. Bagged with the colonial history and contemporary postcolonial culture, study of both influence and inter-textuality becomes a possibility. Through the rise of "Orientalism", it was India which first exercised a literary influence on the West, an equation that was utterly reversed later through colonial intervention. Assam is no exception.