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Premendra Mitra ( ) (1904-1988) was a renowned Bengali poet, novelist and short story writer. He was also an author of Bangla science fiction and thrillers.

Life

He was born in Varanasimarker, Indiamarker. His father was an employee of the Indian Railways and because of that, he had the opportunity of travelling to many places in Indiamarker. He was a student of South Suburban School and later at the Scottish Church College in Calcuttamarker. During his initial years, he (unsuccessfully) aspired to be a physician and studied the natural sciences. Later he started out as a school teacher. He even tried to make a career for himself as a businessman, but he was unsuccessful in that venture as well. After trying out the other occupations, in which he met marginal or moderate success, he rediscovered his talents for creativity in writing and eventually became a Bengali language author and poet.He was a Bengali professor at City College in north Calcutta.

Editor

He edited Bengali journals and news-magazines like Kollol, Kali Kalam, Banglar Kotha, Bongobani, Songbad, among others.

Works

His work was first published in the Bengali journal called 'Probasi' (meaning The Exile) in 1922. His poems were better known for their sharpness and wit. They also expressed empathy for the sufferings of the proletariat. His short stories were well-structured and innovative, and encompassed the diverse to the divergent in urban Indian society. The themes of poverty, degradation, caste, the intermittent conflict between religion and rationality and themes of the rural-urban divide are a thematically occurring refrain in much of his work. He experimented with the stylistic nuances of Bengali prose and tried to offer alternative linguistic parameters to the high-class elite prosaic Bengali language which has been largely inspired by Tagore and his followers.

He even wrote science fictions and thrillers. As Debjani Sengupta observes in her essay Sadhanbabu's Friends: Science Fiction in Bengal from 1882-1961:

Although these are more popular among Bengali-speaking school children and teenagers, they are popular among an older generation of literary aficionados as well. In particular, his creation of the character of Ghanada (meaning elder brother Ghana) may be seen from many perspectives: although Ghanada is apparently a disinterested unemployed middle aged male, and who can apparently weave adventures almost at the drop of a hat, the adventures themselves cover themes ranging from crime, human ingenuity, science, history, geography, metaphysics and philosophy. In terms of facts, they are amazingly accurate. It is obvious that while Ghanada himself has not been involved in any of the adventures he claims to have taken part in, he is certainly a very learned man with an exceptional gift for storytelling. Ghanada may be seen as Mitra's parody or caricature of the Bengali urban middle class celibate intellectual, who is at home in the world of books and knowledge, but has little practical experience whatsoever. It is also interesting to note that like Satyajit Ray's Feluda, the older Ghanada although not abhorring the opposite sex, is not entirely at ease with them either. He stays at an all-male hostel and maintains an almost frugal existence. Ghanada is a self educated person and his education is mostly due to time spent at the local libraries. In a way, it could be argued that these stories also reflect larger patterns of social transformations.

Another masterpice of his creation was the character of "Mejokorta". Mejokarta was a famous "Bhootshikari", meaning ghost-hunter in Bangla. The series of Mejokarta, although not as long as that of Ghanada, has left its prominent mark in the genre of ghost stories in Bangla.

Mitra's literary works were included in the curriculum of school level, secondary, higher secondary and graduation level Bengali literature in Bangladeshmarker. The first-ever English translation of his Ghanada stories (Mosquito and Other Stories) was published by Penguin Books India in 2004.

Poems

  • Prothoma (First Lady)
  • Somrat (The Emperor)
  • Feraari Fouj (The Lost Army)
  • Sagor Theke Fera (Returning From The Sea)
  • Horin Cheeta Chil (Deer, Cheetah, Kite)
  • Kokhono Megh (An Occasional Cloud)
  • Ananya (One-of-a-kind, Unique)
  • Khuda wahid (Allah)


Novels

  • Paak(The Turn)
  • Michhil (The Procession)
  • Uponayon (The Ceremony)
  • Agamikal (Tomorrow)
  • Protishod (Revenge)
  • Kuasha (Fog)
  • Protidhoni Fere (Return of Echo)
  • Monudadosh
  • Piprey Puran (The Story of the Ants)
  • Mangalbairi (The Martian Enemies)
(For novels centered around the character of Ghanada, see the article on Ghanada)

Short Story Collections

  • PonchoSor
  • Benami Bandar (Unknown Monkey)
  • Putul O Protima (Doll and Clay Image of Goddess)
  • Mrittika (Earthen image)
  • Ofuronto (Endless)
  • Dhuli Dhusor
  • Mohanagar(The Great City)
  • Jol Paira (Water Pigeon)
  • Sreshto Golpo (Best Stories)
  • Nana Ronge Bona (Knit with Different Colours)
  • Nirbachita (Selected)


References

  1. Debjani Sengupta (2003). Sadhanbabu’s Friends: Science Fiction in Bengal from 1882-1961, Sarai Reader: Shaping Technologies 3.
  • Golpo Songroho (Collected Stories), the national text book of B.A. (pass and subsidiary) course of Bangladeshmarker, published by University of Dhakamarker in 1979 (reprint in 1986).
  • Bangla Sahitya (Bengali Literature), the national text book of intermediate (college) level of Bangladeshmarker published in 1996 by all educational boards.


Nana Range Bona is not only a short story collection, but it is the only known autobiography of Premendra Mitra.


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