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The Hungry Generation (Bengali : হাংরি জেনারেশান) was a literary movement in the Bengali language launched by what is known today as the Hungryalist quartet, i.e. Binoy Majumdar, Shakti Chattopadhyay, Saileswar Ghosh, Malay Roy Choudhury, Samir Roychoudhury and Debi Roy (alias Haradhon Dhara), during the 1960s in Kolkata, India. Due to their involvement in this avant garde cultural movement, the leaders lost their jobs and were jailed by the incumbent government. They challenged contemporary ideas about literature and contributed significantly to the evolution of the language and idiom used by contemporaneous artists to express their feelings in literature and painting.
The approach of the Hungryalists was to confront and disturb the prospective readers' preconceived colonial canons. According to Pradip Choudhuri, a leading philosopher and poet of the generation, whose works have been extensively translated in French, their counter-discourse was the first voice of post-colonial freedom of pen and brush. Besides the famous four mentioned above, Utpal Kumar Basu, Binoy Majumdar, Sandipan Chattopadhyay, Basudeb Dasgupta, Falguni Roy, Subhash Ghosh, Tridib Mitra, Alo Mitra, Ramananda Chattopadhyay, Anil Karanjai, Saileswar Ghosh, Karunanidhan Mukhopadhyay, and Subo Acharya were among the other leading writers and artists of the movement.
The origins of this movement stem from the educational establishments serving Chaucer and Spengler to the poor of India. The movement was officially launched, however, in November 1961 from the residence of Malay Roy Choudhury and his brother Samir Roychoudhury in Patna. They took the word Hungry from Geoffrey Chaucer's line "In Sowre Hungry Tyme" and they drew upon, among others, Oswald Spengler's histriographical ideas about the non-centrality of cultural evolution and progression, for philosophical inspiration. The movement was to last from 1961 to 1965. It is wrong to suggest that the movement was influenced by the Beat Generation, since Ginsberg did not visit Malay until April 1963, when he came to Patna. Poets Octavio Paz and Ernesto Cardenal were to visit Malay later during the 1960s. The hungry generation has some of the same ideals as The Papelipolas and the Barranquilla Group, both from Colombia, and the Spanish Generation of 68.
This movement is characterized by expression of closeness to nature and sometimes by tenets of Gandhianism and Proudhonianism. Although it originated at Patna, Bihar and was initially based in Kolkata, it had participants spread over North Bengal, Tripura and Benares. According to Dr. Shankar Bhattacharya, Dean at Assam University, as well as Aryanil Mukherjee, editor of Kaurab Literary Periodical, the movement influenced Allen Ginsberg [ citation needed ] as much as it influenced American poetry [ citation needed ] through the Beat poets who visited Calcutta, Patna and Benares during the 1960-1970s. Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, now a professor and editor, was associated with the Hungry generation movement. Shakti Chattopadhyay, Saileswar Ghosh, Subhas Ghosh left the movement in 1964.
More than 100 manifestos were issued during 1961–1965. Malay Roy Choudhury's poems have been published by Prof P. Lal from his Writers Workshop imprint. Howard McCord published Malay's controversial poem Prachanda Boidyutik Chhutar (i.e. Stark Electric Jesus} from Washington State University in 1965. The poem has been translated into several languages of the world. Into German by Carl Weissner,in Spanish by Margaret Randall, in Urdu by Ameeq Hanfee, in Assamese by Manik Dass, in Gujarati by Nalin Patel, in Hindi by Rajkamal Chaudhary, and in English by Howard McCord.
The works of these participants appeared in Citylights Journal 1, 2 and 3 published between 1964 and 1966, edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and in special issues of American magazines including Kulchur edited by Lita Hornick, Klactoveedsedsteen edited by Carl Weissner, El Corno Emplunado edited by Margaret Randall, Evergreen Review edited by Barney Rosset, Salted Feathersedited by Dick Bakken, Intrepid edited by Alan De Loach, and San Francisco Earthquake, during the 1960s. The Hungry Generation, also known as Hungryalism, challenged the mainstream literary genres. The group wrote poetry and prose in completely different forms and experimented with the contents. The movement changed the literary atmosphere of Bengal altogether. It had influences in Hindi, Marathi, Assamese and Urdu literatures.
There is a misconception that the Hungryalists and the Krittibas group were the same and that the Krittibas magazine was a Hungryalist platform. This is incorrect as the Krittibas was a group from the fifties. The Hungryalist movement was a sixties decade phenomenon. Krittibas magazine in its editorial had openly declared that they have no relations with the movement and that they do not approve of the philosophy of the movement.
Malay Roy Choudhury is an Indian Bengali poet, playwright, short story writer, essayist and novelist who founded the Hungryalist movement in the 1960s.
Binoy Majumdar was a Bengali poet. Binoy received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2005.
Krittibas is a Bengali poetry magazine that first appeared in Kolkata in 1953. It played a highly influential role in the Kolkata literary scene in the decades after Indian independence and provided a platform for young, experimental poets, many of whom went on to become luminaries of modern Bengali poetry.
Uttarpara or Uttarpara Kotrung is a city and a municipality of Hooghly district in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is a part of the area covered by Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA). Uttarpara is located at, within 10 km from Kolkata, the capital of the state of West Bengal. It is located along the Hooghly river, across from the Dakshineswar Kali Temple. Uttarpara is home to the Uttarpara Jayakrishna Public Library, Asia's oldest free public library.
The little magazine movement originated in the 1950s and 1960s in many Indian languages like Bengali, Tamil, Marathi, Hindi, Malayalam and Gujarati, as it did in the West, in the early part of the 20th century.
Sandipan Chattopadhyay was an Indian Bengali writer. His 1961 book "Kritadas Kritadasi" changed the landscape of Bengali fiction and made his name. A staunch anti-establishment figure and a supporter of creative freedom, Sandipan for some time refused association with the big Bengali publishing houses.
Parijat was a Nepalese writer. Her real name was Bishnu Kumari Waiba but she wrote under the pen name Parijat. Her most acclaimed publication is Shiris Ko Phool. The english translation of Shiris ko Phool, the blue Mimosa has been adapted in the literature curriculum of the University of Maryland.
College Street Coffee House or Indian Coffee House is a cafe located opposite the Presidency University in College Street, the most famous of Indian Coffee House branches in Kolkata. It has been for a long time a regular hang out and a renowned meeting place (adda) for intellectuals and students of the Presidency College, University of Calcutta, and other institutions in College Street. It has played an important part in Calcutta's (Kolkata) cultural history and known as the hub of intellectual debates.
Samir Roychowdhury, one of the founding fathers of the Hungry Generation 1961–1965, was born at Panihati, West Bengal, India in a family of artists, sculptors, photographers, and musicians. His grandfather Lakshminarayan, doyen of the Sabarna Roy Choudhury clan of Uttarpara, had learned drawing and bromide-paper photography from John Lockwood Kipling, father of Rudyard Kipling, who was Curator at the Lahore Museum, and thereafter established the first mobile photography-cum-painting company in India in the mid-1880s. The company was later taken over by Samir's father Ranjit (1909–1991). Samir's mother Amita (1916–1982) was from a progressive family of 19th-century Bengal renaissance.
Subimal Basak, is an Indian fiction writer. He is a member of the Hungry generation, with Samir Roychoudhury, Falguni Roy, Shakti Chattopadhyay and the movement's creator Malay Roy Choudhury.
Anil Karanjai was an accomplished Indian artist. Born in East Bengal, he was educated in Benaras, where his family settled subsequent to the Partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. As a small child he had spent long hours playing with clay to make toys and arrows. He also began very early to draw animals and plants, or whatever inspired him. In 1956 he dropped out of school to become a full-time student at Bharatiya Kala Kendra, headed by Karnaman Singh, a master of the Bengal school and a Nepali by origin. This teacher encouraged Anil to experiment widely and to study the art of every culture. Anil remained here until 1960, exhibiting regularly and teaching other students. During the same period, he practised miniature painting at Bharat Kala Bhavan under the eye of the last court painter to the Maharaja of Benaras. He also enrolled at Benaras Polytechnic to learn clay modelling and metal casting.
Basudeb Dasgupta, an Indian novelist and short-story writer associated with the Hungry generation movement in Bengali literature. He is considered as one of the most significant avant-garde and controversial figures in the history of Bengali literature.
Falguni Roy was an anti-establishment Bengali poet born in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. Along with Shakti Chattopadhyay, Malay Roy Choudhury, Samir Roychoudhury, Subimal Basak, Debi Roy, Utpal Kumar Basu, Binoy Majumdar, Sandipan Chattopadhyay, Basudeb Dasgupta, Roy was also associated with the Hungryalist movement. Anti-establishment poet Tushar Roy was his brother.
Tridib Mitra was one of the pioneers of the Hungry generation movement in Bengali literature which changed the literary landscape of West Bengal once and for all. With his wife Alo Mitra he edited Hungry generation magazines The Waste Paper in English and Unmarga in Bengali. He and his wife were the ones who started Poetry Readings in Burning Ghats, Graveyards, Ganges river banks as well as in Country liquor joints of Kolkata. He was, in fact, one of the cultural game changers during the sixties when Hungry generation literary movement arrived with full force in the Bengali cultural arena. He and his wife were the ones who delivered Hungry generation masks of demons, jokers, gods etc. at the offices and houses of Ministers, Administrators, Newspaper Editors and other power holders of the West Bengali Establishment. He was an Anti-Establishment writer.
Rabindra Guha is a Bengali poet of the Hungry generation movement in literature who subsequently started the Neem Sahitya Andolan with Mrinal Banik and Biman Chattopadhyay from the steel factory city of Durgapur in West Bengal. He has written several collections of poetry, short stories and novels. He is known mainly for the language of the Bengali diaspora which he adopted and developed for his narratives. He lived in Kolkata only until the Hungry generation movement died down at the end of the 1960s, and shifted thereafter to Durgapur. At the end of Seventies he shifted his base to New Delhi where he invented his narrative language of the Bengali diaspora, i.e. of people who live outside West Bengal. Rabindra Guha is a diasporic post-modern writer with a prolific body of work in relation to inner as well as outer diaspora. He has been a creator of language which is a fantastic combination of national and local dialect. His work had been recently accoladed in Jessore University.
City College is a constituent undergraduate college of the University of Calcutta. Established in 1881, it is one of the heritage institutions of Kolkata, and played a prominent social role in the wake of the Bengal Renaissance of the nineteenth century. The college is located at 102/1, Raja Rammohan Roy Sarani, Kolkata-700009. It shares premises with Rammohan College and Anandamohan College.
Debi Roy is one of the founding fathers of the Hungry generation movement in Bengali literature. He is also the first modern Dalit poet in Bengali. He was born in a very poor family and worked as an errand boy in tea stalls of Calcutta when his parents lived in a slum in Howrah. He funded his own education and became a graduate of Calcutta University. He started writing from his childhood. Debi Roy met Malay Roy Choudhury in an office of a literary periodical in 1960 and the two of them, after discussions with Shakti Chattopadhyay and Samir Roychoudhury launched the now famous Hungryalist movement in November 1961. His Howrah slum-room was the editorial office from where the Hungryalist Bulletins and Hungryalist Manifestoes were published. Along with ten other Hungryalists, Debi Roy was also arrested in 1964 on charges of obscenity in poetry though the trial court exonerated him.
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