Premchand 1915: Moving inside the language continuum from Urdu to Hindi


  • Heinz Werner Wessler



Premchand (1880-1936) started his career as one of the most prominent Indian authors of the 20th century in Urdu. His change towards Hindi was gradual, and he continued to write in Urdu until his death. His choice of language was pragmatic, and driven by economic needs. Hindi offered him a larger readership. Much more important than the choice of language in his artistic development was the development of his literary style, for which in the crucial years around 1915, he wanted to develop his own narrativity much on the model of Russian literature and Lew Tolstoy in particular. The decade starting about 1908 was a formative phase not only for Premchand, but also for Hindi as well as Urdu prose literature.
Keywords: Premchand, Hindi, Hindi literature, Urdu, Devanagari.
Saut (“The co-wife”)1, Premchand’s2 cherished first short story published in Hindi and in Urdu afterwards, was published in
1 PR 11: 371-379. For a summary of the story compare Goyankā 1981: 2, 435 (Saut 3). Not to be mixed up with another short story written by Premchand and published