Author: - Sarat Chandra Chattopadhya, became popular as a social reformer in the cloak of a novelist in the early 20th century. The great novelist Saratchandra Chattopadhyay was born on 16th January 1938. Born in a society, infested with unkind restrictions of traditions, Sarat Chandra had the first hand experience of the futility of the conventional customs. The typical Bengali society was his basic theme, in depicting the social superstitions and oppression. He always sympathized with women, who are "bonded" and caught up in the strong tradition and values of the society. The novelist's intention is to etch out the gigantic task of victimized women to defeat all the falsity and social fallacy of chastity. The women he considered as the nodal agency of a society and injustice towards them either in the name of family or in the name of accepted values was the fundamental theme he has unveiled in the novels.
Synopsis: - The novel, Parineeta, sets in the social backdrop of 20th century radiates in all its glory the quintessence of Renaissance in Bengal. Centering around a poor orphan girl Lolita, brought up by the family of his maternal uncle Gurucharan, who himself is blighted with dire poverty, the novel represents the social segments based on the echelon of status. Gurucharan, employed as a small government clerk was immersed in poverty for expense of paying dowry to five daughters, a social custom prevalaent in the contemporary society. Threatened by financial flux reinforced by the liability of two daughters including Lolita, Gurucharan was bound to take a loan in lieu of his legated house from his next-door neighbor, Nabin Roy, who was an affluent businessman.
But the heart of the entire story is the amorous episode involving Shekhar and Lolita. Eventually, Nabin Roy's youngest son Shekhar, a successful lawyer of twenty-five happens to be a close friend of Lolita. In course of time, they got married in their own terms, which were not socially recognized. Undisclosed to all Shekhar kissed her lips, in a sudden flash of moment. However the spontaneity of love and affection as is portrayed by the Shekhar- Lolita episode is the key strength of the novel, which is projected against the social discrimination in respect of class, caste and religion.
However the Shekhar-Lolita episode is somewhat influenced by Girish, a key agency to imbue the affection and love between Shekhar and Lolita. Shekhar was extremely jealous of Girish, the uncle of Lolita's friend Charubala and finally happens to be the friend of Lolita and savior of Gurucharan's family. Girish helps Gurucharan to repay his loan and convinces Gurucharan to convert into a Brahmo, which will save him from paying dowry. After his death Girish married his youngest daughter, whom Shekhar mistook as Lolita. Here is the turning point of the story, where the love of Shekhar transforms into utter abhorrence against Lolita. The strong detestation of Nabin Roy against the Hindu turned into Brahmo results in the building of wall separating two houses. With this the Love triangle develops between Girish, Shekhar, which in the due course gives rise to a number of misunderstanding. The misunderstandings developed between the lover souls was the immediate consequence of the traditional social systems, where the social oppressions and restrictions appear as an open threat to those living in the lower stratum of the social plane.
The concluding part of the novel Parineeta, however illustrates the Renaissance fervor, with which the protagonist Lolita was successful to win over her love and status through a bitter experience of poverty, which was silhouetted by vague social customs.
"Parineeta" suggests a married woman bounded in all the social customs. Being a married woman, though socially unrecognized the protagonist Lolita observes all the values and customs a chaste Bengali woman should follow. Even she was about to lose her love Shekhar, being challenged by the social restrictions and bindings reinforced by dire poverty. In spite of being an unblemished woman, who is wife of Shekhar from soul, Lolita had to submit herself in the abomination and detestation of Shekhar, whom she loved. The title truly signifies the contemporary Bengali woman steeped in the renaissance background. Lolita imbibed with the womanly passion and strength, induced by Renaissance in the Bengali society, defeated all the social customs, which swallowed the aspirations of an innocent soul.
Lolita, the protagonist represents the erstwhile quiescent woman folk mired deep in the strong tradition, who were imbued with their strength and passion only after the introduction of Renaissance. The Renaissance rejuvenate the lenient society with zealous enthusiasm, by which the woman like Lolita come out of the homespun life, defeating all the moral standards, imposed by the society.
Parineeta, distinguished as the only novel of its kind, depicting the social cross currents and the poor victims of social discrimination was published a month after Viraj Bou in the Jamuna in [B] 1320 Falgooni issue. In 10th August 1914, the novel was published as a book by Roy M. C. Sarkar Bahadur & Sons (MCSBS). The novel, highly admired, was also translated by Sridhar Rajaram Marathe to Marathi language in 1934 and to Gujarati by Nagindas Parekh in 1937.
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