Krishna Kanta's Will (Chatterjee, Knight)
Krishna Kanta's Will
BANKIM CHANDRA CHATTERJEE
AUTHOR OF "THE POISON TREE"
TRANSLATED BY MIRIAM S. KNIGHT, WITH
INTRODUCTION, GLOSSARY AND NOTES BY
J. F. BLUMHARDT, M.A.
T. FISHER UNWIN
In presenting to the English public another of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee's tales, I have only to express a hope that the spirit of the original has been preserved.
My most grateful acknowledgments are due to Mr. Blumhardt for his very able sketch of the author's life and literary works, as well as for his generous assistance in revising my translation, and in supplying a Glossary and Notes which remove all obscurity from the text.
M. S. KNIGHT.
Bankim Chandra Chatterjee was unquestionably the greatest novelist that India has ever produced. No other writer has done so much to improve the style, and to raise the tone of Bengali literature. His severe criticisms on the worthless and ephemeral productions of so many of his fellow-countrymen, his fearless exposure of the faults and shortcomings of Hindu social life, and of the evils arising from a corrupt and superstitious form of Hindu religion, have brought about a complete revolution in the history of Bengali literature.
He was himself a vigorous author. His works display a wonderful power of description, and delineation of human life and character, which render them so deeply interesting and instructive, more especially to those who have had personal experience of everyday life amongst natives of Bengal. His earlier productions, commencing with "Durgesanandini" in 1865, were novels, historical and social. Three of these novels have already been translated into English— viz., "Durgesanandini," by Charu Chandra Mookerjee (Calcutta, 1880), "Bish-brikhya" or, "Poison Tree," by Mrs. M. S. Knight, the translator of the present work (London, 1884), and "Kopal-kundala," by H. A. D. Phillips (London, 1885). This last has also been translated into German by C. Klemm (Leipzig, 1886).
As a proof of the high estimation in which his works are held by natives of India also, it may be noticed that two of his novels have already been translated into Hindustani, and one into Hindi.
Towards the close of his life Bankim Chandra appeared as an advocate of a reformed system of Hindu religion, and a teacher of the sublime philosophy of the Bhagavadgîtâ. His "Krishna-charitra," or Life of Krishna, which was first published in 1886, is by many considered to be his finest work. In it he represents the Hindu deity as the model of a perfect nature, and points out the gradual introduction into the great epic poem of the Mahâbhârata of the many popular superstitions, and degrading accounts of the life and character of Krishna, which are so entirely at variance with the lofty conceptions of that deity, as contained in the more ancient Hindu sacred writings.
Bankim Chandra was also an able exponent of intellectual and scientific research. He was himself a perfect master of the English language, as well as of Sanskrit. He had studied the scientific works of modern times, and endeavoured to make them popular amongst his fellow-countrymen by the medium of a monthly periodical, entitled "Bangadarshan," which appeared in 1872, and, under his able editorship, has proved to be one of the best conducted and most useful of Bengali magazines. He has also written a book of poems, called "Kavitâ-prakâsh" (Calcutta, 1878), exquisite in style, of remarkable originality, and abounding in poetic imagery.
Little is known of Bankim Chandra's private life, as his biography has not yet appeared. He was one of four sons of Jâdab Chandra Chatterjee, was educated at the Hughli College, studied law at the Presidency College at Calcutta, and was one of the first graduates of the Calcutta University. He held an appointment under Government as a Deputy Magistrate and Collector, and obtained the title of Ray Bahadur, and the distinction of the Order of a Companion of the Indian Empire. This talented author, whose varied works are familiar to every student of Bengali literature, died in May, 1894, at the age of 57.
It is needless to say anything of the story of "Krishna Kanta's Will." The carefully prepared and literal translation of this novel, for which we are indebted to the pen of the translator of the author's "Poison Tree" alluded to above, will tell its own tale.
This translation is from the latest edition of the work, published in 1892.
The story is written with much dramatic force, tragic indeed, but enlivened by passages of humorous description. The moral lesson intended to be conveyed is obvious—in fact, the chief aim of the author in all his works appears to have been to promote the amelioration of Hindu society, and to teach the vital importance of a reliance on religious principles in the affairs of life.
J. F. BLUMHARDT.
Oxford, February, 1895.
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