July 12, 2020
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Premendra Mitra

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Premendra Mitra
As poet, he broke boldly from the tradition of Tagore and wrote the verse of virility and realism: "I am the poet of all blacksmiths, of brass workers/ Of all carpenters and coolies and labourers/ I am the poet of the lowly." As short fiction writer, he turned literary styles on their head in stories like Telenapota Abishkar (The Discovery of Telenapota), and produced dozens of dazzling little diamonds of social and psychological analysis like Sansar Simantey (On the border of life) and Ekti Kapurusher Kahini (A Coward's Tale, filmed as Kapurush by Satyajit Ray). As science fiction author, he wrote novels like Manu Dwadosh (In the days of the twelfth Manu) in the 1930s, which compare with the best of a Stanislaw Lem or a Philip K. Dick. As an author for young adults, he created the unforgettable Ghana-da, a cross between Professor Challenger and Baron Munchausen, who insouciantly travelled the planet (or claimed to) to save it from chaos and destruction at the hand of evil geniuses. For sheer range of writing, breadth of knowledge, stunning stylistic flourishes, Mitra is unmatched in Indian literature. Yet he also remains the least celebrated of all great Indian literary figures.
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