Pakistani Literature In English Essay

3614 words - 14 pages

Pakistani English Literature: A Historical Glimpse PAGE 1
Pakistani English Literature: A Historical GlimpseForeign languages, especially rulers' languages have always been influencing the local literature and writings extensively. Pakistan is not an English-speaking country, but the Pakistanis have been studying English for more than a century and a half. This paper would cover the English literary traditions and evolution in the sub-continent from the day the British stepped in till the partition of Pakistan in 1971. This was a period of slow incubation during which the power and authority of the English as rulers grew rapidly, leading to a corresponding growth in the importance of English. Encouraged by these signs and fired by the ambition of converting the subcontinent to Western culture, Lord Macaulay proposed the establishment of a network of schools and colleges on Western lines. He dreamt of an India completely metamorphosed mentally, undergoing a spiritual rebirth under the benign influence of the English administrators. These developments resulted in the formal adoption of English as the official language of India in 1835. In the cultural history of the territories which constitute Pakistan and India this event must be considered a major landmark.English spread widely and rapidly as a result of the new educational policy. Lord Macaulay's expectation that the people of the subcontinent would renounce their past history, traditions and culture was, of course, not fulfilled. As the Cambridge History of English Literature points out, "the adoption of English as the language of instruction in universities had the altogether unexpected, though in every way desirable, result of revivifying the vernaculars." But although Macaulay's prediction did not come true, the effects of English have indeed been manifold.Of equal importance on the cultural level has been the diffusion, through the medium of English, of Western thought. Nineteenth-century European liberalism fascinated many individuals and also large groups of men. Although the process of Westernization on these lines did not extend very far, the encounter between Eastern and Western thought has left a permanent impress on history. Among the pioneers belonging to this generation, the man to whom the people of Pakistan owe most was Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. It proved a complete success; it was able to allay the fear current among the Muslims that English would destroy their culture. But by the time knowledge of the English language spread among a considerable body of Muslims, the desire to use it as a vehicle for imaginative literature which had been one of the earliest consequences of the introduction of English, as is evidenced by the history of Indo-Anglian writing, was neutralized by the rise of a strong sense of literary nationalism and a renewed awareness of the value of native languages and literary traditions.It is necessary to record this fact in order to account for the comparative...

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