Novels, Society and History Class 10 History NCERT Notes

Share this:

Novels, Society and History Class 10 History NCERT Notes will help them understand the concepts better and they can score well in the exams. The students can excel in their classes and feel confident in their knowledge. The notes are prepared by experts and focus on the key points of the syllabus.

Class 10 History NCERT Notes are important for students who want to excel in their exams. They provide concise information that can be easily understood.

NCERT Notes for Novels, Society and History Class 10 History

The Rise of the Novel

A novel is a modern form of literature which is born from print, a mechanical invention. The novel first took firm root in England and France.

Novels began to be written from the seventeenth century, but they really spread from the eighteenth century. New groups of lower-middle-class people such as shopkeepers and clerks, along with the traditional aristocratic and gentlemanly classes in England and France now formed the new readership for novels.

As readership grew, the earnings of authors increased which freed them from financial dependence on the patronage of aristocrats and gave them independence to experiment with different literary styles.

A novelist of the early eighteenth century, Henry Fielding, claimed he was ‘the founder of a new province of writing’ where he could make his own laws. Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, written in the eighteenth century, told much of its story through an exchange of letters between two lovers.

The Publishing Market

With the introduction of circulating libraries in 1740, people had easier access to books. Technological improvements in printing brought down the price of books and innovations in marketing led to expanded sales. The novel was one of the first mass-produced items to be sold.

Several reasons for popularity of novel were the worlds created by novels were absorbing and believable, and seemingly real. While reading novels, the reader began looking at life as it was experienced by the characters of the novel. Novels allowed individuals the pleasure of reading in private, as well as the joy of publicly reading or discussing stories with friends or relatives.

In rural areas, people would gather to hear novel by a literate person which belong from one of them. In 1836 a notable event took place when Charles Dickens’s Pickwick Papers was serialised in a magazine. Serialisation allowed readers to enjoy the suspense, discuss the characters of a novel and live for weeks with their stories.

The World of the Novel

Other forms of writing mainly deal with the great persons while the novels are about ordinary people. In the nineteenth century, Europe entered the industrial age. During this time, central theme of most novel were lives of industrial workers.

Charles Dickens in his novel Hard Times (1854) describes Coketown, a fictitious industrial town, as a grim place full of machinery, smoking chimneys, rivers polluted purple and buildings that all looked the same.

Another novel of Dicken’s Oliver Twist in 1838 is the tale of a poor orphan who lived in a world of petty criminals and beggars. Brought up in a cruel workhouse, Oliver was finally adopted by a wealthy man and lived happily ever after. Emile Zola’s Germinal in 1885 is on the life of a young miner in France explores in harsh detail the grim conditions of miners’ lives.

Community and Society

The vast majority of readers of the novel lived in the city. The novel created a feeling of connection in them with the fate of rural communities. For example, the nineteenth-century British novelist Thomas Hardy, wrote about traditional rural communities of England that were fast vanishing. The novel uses the vernacular, the language that is spoken by common people. Thus, the novels produces the sense of a shared world between diverse people in a nation.

The New Woman

In the eighteenth century, women got more leisure to read as well as write novels. Many novels were about domestic life of women. They drew upon their experience, wrote about family life and earned public recognition.

The novels of Jane Austen give us a glimpse of the world of women in cultured rural society in early-nineteenth-century Britain. The novels of women novelists often dealt with women who broke established norms of society before adjusting to them. Such stories allowed women readers to sympathise with rebellious actions.

In Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, published in 1847, rebel women was shown through young Jane.

Novels for the Young

Novels for young boys idealised a new type of man: someone who was powerful, assertive, independent and daring. Most of these novels were full of adventure set in places remote from Europe where colonisers appear heroic and honourable, colonising territories and then developing nations there.

Books like R.L. Stevenson’s Treasure Island in 1883 or Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book in 1894 became great hits. Love stories written for adolescent girls also first became popular in this period, especially in the US. Ramona in 1884 by Helen Hunt Jackson and a series entitled What Katy Did in 1872 by Sarah Chauncey Woolsey became hits.

Colonialism and After

The early novel contributed to colonialism by making the readers feel they were part of a superior community of fellow colonialists. The hero of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe in 1719 is an adventurer and slave trader who treats coloured people as inferior creatures.

In the twentieth century, writers like Joseph Conrad in 1857-1924 wrote novels that showed the darker side of colonial occupation.

The Novel Comes to India

Stories in prose were not new to India. An early example was Banabhatta’s Kadambari, written in Sanskrit in the seventh century. The modern novel form developed in India in the nineteenth century, as Indians became familiar with the Western novel.

Some of the earliest Indian novels were written in Bengali and Marathi. The earliest novel in Marathi was Baba Padmanji’s Yamuna Paryatan in 1857 about the plight of widows. Lakshman Moreshwar Halbe’s Muktamala in 1861 was an imaginary ‘romance’ narrative with a moral purpose.

In the nineteenth century, Indian novelists wrote to develop a modern literature of the country that could produce a sense of national belonging and cultural equality with their colonial masters. Translations of novels into different regional languages helped to spread the popularity of the novel.

The Novel in South India

Novels began appearing in south Indian languages during the period of colonial rule. A few early novels came out of attempts to translate English novels into Indian languages. However, they were instant failure because of culture difference. Novelists realised this and started writing in regional language in the ‘manner of English novel books’.

In 1889, O.Chandu Menon’s novel named Indulekha was published which was the first modern novel in Malayalam. In Andhra Pradesh, Kandukuri Viresalingam wrote a Telegu novel called Rajasekhara Caritamu in 1878.

The Novel in Hindi

In the north, Bharatendu Harishchandra, the pioneer of modern Hindi literature, encouraged many poets and writers to recreate and translate novels from other languages.

In the north, Bharatendu Harishchandra, the pioneer of modern Hindi literature, encouraged many poets and writers to recreate and translate novels from other languages.In 1882, the first proper modern novel titled Pariksha-Guru written by Srinivas Das of Delhi. The novel reflects the inner and outer world of the newly emerging middle classes under colonial rule. The writings of Devaki Nandan Khatri created a novel-reading public in Hindi. His best-seller, Chandrakanta was a romance with dazzling elements of fantasies.

Hindi novel achieved Excellence with the writing of Premchand. He began writing in Urdu and then shifted to Hindi. His novel Sewasadan translates The Abode of Service, published in 1916, changed the theme of Hindi novel from the realm of fantasy to a serious reflection on the lives of ordinary people and social issues. Sewasadan deals mainly with the poor condition of women in society.

Novels in Bengal

In the nineteenth century, the early Bengali novels were of two types.

  • One was based on historical events.
  • Another was domestic novels which dealt with the social problems and romantic relationships between men and women.

The old merchant elite of Calcutta organised public forms of entertainment such as poetry contests and dance performances. The new well educated Bengalis known as bhadralok found himself at home in the more private world of reading novels.

The great Bangla novelist Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay read out his first novel Durgeshnandini in 1865 to huge gathering of people. Initially the Bengali novel used an informal style associated with urban life but this style was quickly replaced by Bankim’s prose which was Sanskritised but also contained a more vernacular style. By the twentieth century, the power of telling stories in simple language made Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay the most popular novelist in Bengal and probably in the rest of India.

Novels in the Colonial World

Uses of the Novel

Colonial administrators found ‘vernacular’ novels a valuable source of information on native life and customs. These information was useful for them in governing Indian society, with its large variety of communities and castes.

Indians used the novel as a powerful medium to criticise what they considered defects in their society and to suggest remedies. Novels also helped in establishing a relationship with the past.

Novels helped in creating a sense of collective belonging on the basis of one’s language as people from all walks of life could read novels so long as they shared a common language. Novels made their readers familiar with the ways in which people in other parts of their land spoke their language.

The Problem of Being Modern

But the Novels did not always show things exactly as they were in reality. Social novelists often created heroes and heroines with ideal qualities, who their readers could admire and imitate.

Chandu Menon in his novel ‘Indulekha’ portrayed Indulekha as a woman of breathtaking beauty, high intellectual abilities, artistic talent, and with an education in English and Sanskrit. Madhavan, was a member of the newly English-educated class of Nayars from the University of Madras.

Under colonial rule, many of the English-educated class found new Western ways of living and thinking attractive. But they also feared that a wholesale adoption of Western values would destroy their traditional ways of living. So, through the ideal characters of novel, they showed how Indian and foreign lifestyles could be brought together in an ideal combination.

Pleasures of Reading

As elsewhere in the world, in India too, the novel became a popular medium of entertainment among the middle class. Picture books, translations from other languages, popular songs sometimes composed on contemporary events, stories in newspapers and magazines – all these offered new forms of entertainment.

As late as the nineteenth century and perhaps even in the early twentieth century, written texts were often read aloud for several people to hear. But in general novels encouraged reading alone and in silence.

Women and the Novel

Women did not remain mere readers of stories written by men, soon they also began to write novels. In the early decades of the twentieth century, women in south India also began writing novels and short stories.

Stories of love was a staple theme of many novels which showed women who could choose or refuse their partners and relationships. Some women authors also wrote about women who changed the world of both men and women. Rokeya Hossein wrote a satiric fantasy in English called Sultana’s Dream in 1905 which shows a vice-versa world in which women take the place of men. Her novel Padmarag also showed the need for women to reform their condition by their own actions.

Many men were suspicious of women writing novels or reading them which cut across communities. Hannah Mullens, a Christian missionary and the author of Karuna o Phulmonir Bibaran in 1852, tells her readers that she wrote in secret. In the twentieth century, Sailabala Ghosh Jaya, a popular novelist, could only write because her husband protected her.

Caste Practices, ‘Lower-Castes’ and Minorities

The novel ‘Indulekha’ was concerned the marriage practices of upper-caste Hindus in Kerala, especially the Nambuthiri Brahmins and the Nayars. Novels like Indirabai and Indulekha were written by members of the upper castes, and were primarily about upper-caste characters.

In 1892, Potheri Kunjambu, a ‘lower-caste’ writer from north Kerala, wrote a novel called Saraswativijayam, mounting a strong attack on caste oppression. Saraswativijayam gave the importance of education for the upliftment of the lower castes.

From the 1920s, in Bengal a new kind of novel emerged that detailed the lives of peasants and low castes. Advaita Malla Burman’s Titash Ekti Nadir Naam in 1956 is an epic about the Mallas, a community of fisherfolk who live off fishing in the river Titash.

Vaikkom Muhammad Basheer, for example, was one of the early Muslim writers to gain wide renown as a novelist in Malayalam. Basheer had little formal education. His novels spoke about details from the everyday life of Muslim households. He also brought themes such as poverty, insanity and life in prisons.

The Nation and its History

The educated and working Indians under the English system wanted a new view of the past that would show that Indians could be independent minded and had been so in history.

In Bengal, many historical novels were about Marathas and Rajputs which produced a sense of a pan-Indian belonging. Bhudeb Mukhopadhyay’s Anguriya Binimoy in 1857 was the first historical novel written in Bengal which Shivaji engages in many battles against a clever and treacherous Aurangzeb.

The imagined nation of the novel was so powerful that it could inspire actual political movements. Bankim’s Anandamath in 1882 is a novel about a secret Hindu militia that fights Muslims to establish a Hindu kingdom. It was a novel that inspired many kinds of freedom fighters.

The Novel and Nation Making

Novels include various classes so that they could be seen to belong to a shared world. For example, Premchand’s novels are filled with all kinds of powerful characters drawn from all levels of society such as aristocrats and landlords, middle-level peasants and landless labourers, middle-class professionals and people from the margins of society. His novels look towards the future without forgetting the importance of the past.

The central character of his novel Rangbhoomi translates The Arena, Surdas, is a visually impaired beggar from a so-called ‘untouchable’ caste. Godan translates The Gift of Cow, published in 1936, is an epic of the Indian peasantry.


Developments in print technologies allowed the novel to circulate among masses and introduced fresh ways of reading. Novels have shown a capacity to include and focus on the lives of those who were not often known to literate and middle-class circles.

Novels produce a sense of sharing, and promote an understanding of different people, different values and different communities.

Share this:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *