The Gopal-Rakhal Dialectic
Colonialism and Children’s Literature in Bengal
Translated by Rani Ray, Nivedita Sen
Literature for children is a distinctive achievement of the Bengali language. In it, we get numerous illustrations of primers that are meant to initiate reading and writing among children, poems and nursery rhymes, fables and fairy tales, prose pieces and stories, plays and novels – all of which are unique in their style and content, exceptional in their taste and flavour. Literature for children has led to the production of innumerable books in Bengal; countless magazines and annual Puja numbers of journals have put together, year after year, stories, poems and plays for children. There is hardly any adult writer of stature who has not contributed to this venture.
Even when we assess the nature of ideas and beliefs, Bengali children’s literature does not pall. In fact, it is a contentious site of trends and counter-trends that can be charted within inventive writings for children. Its multifarious potential was quite manifest in the colonial era and a few decades following India’s independence. The Gopal–Rakhal Dialectic: Colonialism and Children’s Literature in Bengal offers an evaluation of the strengths and possibilities of this very literature.