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Himalayan Voices

An Introduction to Modern Nepali Literature

Michael James Hutt

Publication Year: 1991

While the natural splendor of Nepal has been celebrated in many books, very little of the substantial body of Nepali literature has appeared in English translation. Himalayan Voices provides admirers of Nepal and lovers of literature with their first glimpse of the vibrant literary scene in Nepal today.

An introduction to the two most developed genres of modern Nepali literature—poetry and the short story—this work profiles eleven of Nepal's most distinguished poets and offers translations of more than eighty poems written from 1916 to 1986. Twenty of the most interesting and best-known examples of the Nepali short story are translated into English for the first time by Michael Hutt. All provide vivid descriptions of life in twentieth-century Nepal.

Although the days when Nepali poets were regularly jailed for their writings have passed, until 1990 the strictures of various laws governing public security and partisan political activity still required writers and publishers to exercise a certain caution. In spite of these conditions, poetry in Nepal remained the most vital and innovative genre, in which sentiments and opinions on contemporary social and political issues were frequently expressed.

While the Nepali short story adapted its present form only during the early 1930s, it has rapidly developed a surprisingly high degree of sophistication. These stories offer insights into the workings of Nepali society: into caste, agrarian relations, social change, the status of women, and so on. Such insights are more immediate than those offered by scholarly works and are conveyed by implication and assumption rather than analysis and exposition.

This book should appeal not only to admirers of Nepal, but to all readers with an interest in non-Western literatures. Himalayan Voices establishes for the first time the existence of a sophisticated literary tradition in Nepal and the eastern Himalaya.

Published by: University of California Press

Series: Voices from Asia

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-ix

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pp. xi-xiii

The compiler of any literary anthology is always liable to be accused of sins of omission and commission, and I do not expect to be spared. I began work on this project with the idea of producing two separate books: a much larger and more comprehensive selection of poems in English translation, including works by as many as forty poets, and an ...

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pp. xv-xvi

It is difficult to state with any certainty when it was that I actually began work on this book because I first read and translated some of these poems and stories as long ago as 1980 while conducting research for a doctoral thesis. The project might well have taken another eight years to reach fruition had the British Academy not granted me a three-year research ...


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p. xvii-xvii

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pp. 1-9

Nepal is a Hindu kingdom, approximately equal in size to England with Wales, that lies along a 500-mile stretch of the eastern Himalaya between India and Tibet. The most striking feature of the country is its spectacular landscape, and the region's dramatic topography has been a crucial factor in its historical and cultural development since the most ancient ...

PART ONE. The Poets of Nepal

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Nepali Poetry

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pp. 13-21

Poetry is the richest genre of twentieth-century Nepali literature. Although the short story has developed strongly, the drama holds its ground in the face of fierce competition from the cinema, and the novel is increasingly popular, almost every Nepali writer composes poetry. Since the appearance of Shāradā, Nepali poetry has become diverse and ...

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Lekhnath Paudyāl (1885-1966)

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pp. 22-30

Lekhnath Paudyāl was the (bunding lather of twentieth-century Nepali poetry, hut his most important contribution was to the enrichment and refinement of its language rather than to its philosophical breadth. His poems possessed a formal dignity that had been lacking in most earlier works in Nepali; many of them conformed in their outlook with the ...

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Bālkrishna Sama (1903-1981)

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pp. 31-39

Lekhnāth Paudyāl, Bālkrishna Sama, and Lakshmīprasād Devkotā were the three most important Nepali writers of the first half of this century, and their influence is still felt today. Lekhnāth strove for classical precision in traditional poetic genres; Devkotā's effusive and emotional works provoked a redefinition of the art of poetic composition in ...

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Lakshmīprasād Devkotā (1909-1959)

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pp. 40-56

When a truly great poet appears during an important phase in the development of a particular literature, the fortunes of that literature arc changed forever. All poets who follow are bound to the traditions that their great predecessor has established, even if it is only in the sense that these become the conventions against which they rebel, the norms ...

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Siddhicharan Shreshtha (b. 1912)

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pp. 57-65

Siddhicharan Shreshtha, who was born in Okhaldhungā in eastern Nepal in 1912, comes from a prosperous landowning Newar family. He has lived most of his life in Kathmandu but has responsibilities for an estate in the Tarai. Siddhicharan is a member of the influential first generation of modern Nepali poets who grew up under the autocratic ...

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Kedār Man "Vyāthit" (b. 1914)

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pp. 66-72

Kedār Man "Vyāthit" is one of Nepali literature's grand old men. A close contemporary of Devkotā, Sama, Rimāl, and many other influential Nepali poets, Vyathit has made the greatest contribution of all his peers to the development of Nepal's literary institutions during a long career of more than a half century. Vyathit was born in 1914 to a ...

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Gopālprasād Rimāl (1918-1973)

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pp. 73-81

Gopālprasād Rimāl was born in Kathmandu in 1918. He is remembered as the first "revolutionary" Nepali poet and the first to reject the use ofmeter. He was one of the group of influential writers, including Bijay Malla, Siddhicharan Shreshta, and Govind Bahādur Gothāle, who pro-duced and contributed to Shāradā, the journal that played a most crucial...

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Mohan Koirālā (b. 1926)

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pp. 82-98

As one of Nepali literature's most respected and enduring poets, Koirala has been writing for more than forty years, but his poetry continues to evolve and change, adopting new styles and addressing new themes. He has wielded considerable influence over poets contemporary with him and is revered by younger writers. Yet it is extremely difficult to identify ...

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Bairāgī Kāinlā (b. 1939)

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pp. 99-110

In May 1963, an unusual literary journal appeared on the Darjeeling bookstalls. The publication of a new Nepali periodical was not a remarkable event in itself because short-lived magazines and papers had proliferated since the 1950s. This slim periodical, entitled Tesro Āyām (Third Dimension), was of greater significance than most, however, because it ...

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Pārijāt (b. 1937)

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pp. 111-118

Pārijāt, the Nepali name for a species of jasmine with a special religioussignificance, is the pen name adopted by Bishnukumārī Wāibā, a Tāmāng woman now resident in Kathmandu who has been hailed as one-of the most innovative Nepali writers of recent years. The themes and philosophical outlook of her poems, novels, and stories are influenced by her Marxist and feminist views and her own personal circumstances:...

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Bhūpi Sherchan (1936-1989)

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pp. 119-131

Bhūpi Sherchan, who died in 1989, was probably the most popular and widely read Nepali poet of the previous twenty years. The reasons for his popularity are easily identified: his poems are written in simple Nepali; they address issues crucial to all Nepalis, not just to the educated elite; and they are distinctive for their humor and ...

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Bānīrā Giri (b. 1946)

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pp. 132-140

Born in the town of Kurseong, near Darjeeling in the Himalayan foothills of West Bengal, Bānīrā Giri is one of the very few Nepali women writers to have established any reputation outside the kingdom. She moved to Kathmandu with her parents when still a young girl, and most of her writing therefore refers to the environment and society of her ...

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New Trends in Nepali Poetry

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pp. 141-170

This chapter presents some Nepali poetry that reflects the predominant trends of the past twenty years or so. I have resisted attaching the label contemporary to this poetry, partly because it is difficult to decide a specific date from which contemporary literature should be deemed to have commenced and partly because all literature is by its very nature contemporary ...

PART TWO. Selected Short Stories

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The Short Story in Nepali

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pp. 173-188

Nepali literature is of enormous value to anyone who is interested in the culture and society of twentieth-century Nepal. Nor should it be forgotten that the world that Nepali literature describes is not confined to Nepal alone: at least 2 million Nepalis live in India. A recent volume of "Indian" Nepali stories contained works by authors from Darjeeling, ...

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Guruprasād Mainālī (1900-1971)

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pp. 189-196

Mainālī was one of the first generation of writers to develop the modern short story in Nepali. Little detailed biographical information on him is available, but it is known that he was born in Kānpur village, Kabre Palanchok district, and spent most of his life in government service. Some sources suggest that he was a high court judge. Mainālī left his birthplace ...

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Bishweshwar Prasād Koirālā (1915-1982)

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pp. 197-205

Better known in Nepal as "B. P.," the leader of the Nepali Congress Party that ousted the Rānās, Koirālā became Nepal's first elected prime minister in 1959. Before this, however, he had already become quite well known for his writing, which he began while studying law in Darjeeling during the 1930s. Koirālā's first story, ...

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Bhavānī Bhikshu (1914-1981)

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pp. 206-223

Bhikshu was born at Taulīhavā village in the Kapilvastu district of theTaral, but he spent much of his life in Kathmandu. He made his first appearance in Nepali literature with an essay on criticism, originallywritten in Hindi, that was translated into Nepali and published in Shāradā in 1936. His first story, "Mankind" (Mānav), was published two years...

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Shivkumār Rāī (b. 1916)

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pp. 224-230

Rāī was born at Rināk in Sikkim but made his home at Kurseong in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal. He studied for a while at Gyantse inTibet before gaining his B.A. from Calcutta University in 1941. Rāī's career was primarily political: he was one of the founding members of the Gorkha League, an organization that represented Nepalis resident...

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Daulat Bikram Bishtha (b. 1926)

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pp. 231-235

Bishtha was born in the eastern district of Bhojpur and is one of Nepal's few truly accomplished novelists. Six novels by Bishtha have been published, and several have earned him literary prizes. His stories are extremely varied and include psychological portraits, portrayals of oppression, and simple romances. Bishtha's stories are collected in ...

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Bijay Malla (b. 1925)

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pp. 236-243

Bijay Malla is the son of Riddhibahadur Malla, the first editor of Shāradā, and the younger brother of Govind Bahādur Gothālé. Bijay Malla was educated at. Banāras Hindu University and at Trichandra College in Kathmaridu. Both Gothālé and Bijay Malla were strongly influenced by their childhood in the literary household where Shāradā was produced, ...

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Ramesh Bikal (b. 1932)

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pp. 244-252

Bikal, whose real name is Rameshvar Prasād Chālisé, was born near Gokarna in the Kathmandu Valley, passed a B.Ed, in 1960, and has worked in education for much of his life. His earlier stories express his socialist beliefs and antiestablishment instincts, for which he was imprisoned on three occasions between 1949 and 1952. His analyses of ...

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Shankar Lāmichhāné (1928-1975)

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pp. 253-259

Lāmichhāné was born in Kathmandu but lived with an uncle in Banāras until he was eleven. After receiving some basic education at Trichandra College in the capital, he took his first job at the age of twenty-two and worked for a number of governmental and cultural institutions in Kathmandu. In his later years he became the manager of a handicrafts ...

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Indra Bahādur Rāī (b. 1928)

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pp. 260-265

Rai is one of the most original and influential Nepali writers to have appeared in recent years. His earliest stories, collected in Bipana Katipaya (So Many Waking Moments, 1960), were written in a naturalistic style.The second collection—Kathāsthā (The Faith of Stories)—showed a dramatic change of approach and philosophy, as Rāī formulated the views...

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Poshan Pāndé (b. 1932)

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pp. 266-270

A surprise ending and a carefully constructed plot are the characteristic features of Pāndé's stories. Many relate minor incidents from daily life or adopt everyday items as symbols of conflict, jealousy, or anger. Although "A Sweater for Brother-in-law" (Bhinājyūko Svelar) is generally recognized as his greatest story, it has a great deal in common with other,...

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Tārinī Prasād Koirālā (1922-1974)

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pp. 271-277

Born in India and educated at Banaras arid Calcutta, Koirālā was the author of" a novel entitled Snakebite (Sarpadamsha, 1968), a startlingly Freudian tale of child psychology. Not a prolific writer, Koirālā published a few stories in Shāradā between 1939 and 1942, and the rest appeared after 1950. "It Depends upon Your Point of View" is still a very popular ...

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Premā Shāh

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pp. 278-283

Premā Shāh first came to the attention of Nepali readers with the pub-lication of "A Husband," which probably surpassed the many other sto-ries on the subject of widowhood. A second influential story is "TheYellow Rose" (Pahenlo Gulāph), the diary of a woman who is dying fromtuberculosis arid observing her husband from her hospital bed. Premā...

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Parashu Pradhān (b. 1943)

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pp. 284-289

Parashu Pradhān was born in Bhojpur district and gained an M.A. in Nepali literature and politics. He began to write short stories in 1962 and has also published two novels. Pradhan's main themes are social contradictions and human relations, and he is admired for the poetic and symbolistic quality of his prose. Recently, he has begun to include ...

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Dhruba Chandra Gautam (b. 1944)

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pp. 290-297

Gautam is known chiefly for the live highly accomplished novels he has published since 1969, but he has also played an important role in the development of the short story in Nepali. A prolific writer with at least sixty stories to his credit, Gautam deals almost exclusively with contemporary social issues and has developed a unique narrative style. Gautam's ...

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Manu Brājākī (b. 1942)

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pp. 298-303

Brājākī 's first published story appeared in a Janakpur magazine in 1962,but he is still regarded as a writer whose work reflects c:ontemporarytrends. Brājākī has published two collections to date: Avamŭlyan (Devaluation, 1981) and Ākāshko Phal (Fruits of the Sky, 1986). ...

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Kishor Pahādī (b. 1956)

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pp. 304-309

Pahādī is a "new" writer whose first story was published in 1971. Pahādī's stories are collected in Bānchnu ra Bānchekāharū (To Live and the Living,1980), Ghar-Khandahar(Ruins of Houses, 1980), and Vishudāī (Vishudāī [a woman's name], 1988). ...


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pp. 311-316


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pp. 317-323


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pp. 325-333

E-ISBN-13: 9780520910263
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520070486

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 1991

Series Title: Voices from Asia