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Premchand is the most famous Hindi novelist and Godaan is Premchand’s most celebrated novel. Economic and social conflict in a north Indian village are brilliantly captured in the story of Hori, a poor farmer and his family’s struggle for survival and self-respect. Hori does everything he can to fulfill his life’s desire: to own a cow, the peasant’s measure of wealth and w Premchand is the most famous Hindi novelist and Godaan is Premchand’s most celebrated novel. Economic and social conflict in a north Indian village are brilliantly captured in the story of Hori, a poor farmer and his family’s struggle for survival and self-respect. Hori does everything he can to fulfill his life’s desire: to own a cow, the peasant’s measure of wealth and well-being. Like many Hindus of his time, he believes that making the gift of a cow to a Brahman before he dies will help him achieve salvation. An engaging introduction to India before Independence, Godaan is at once village ethnography, moving human document and insightful colonial history.


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Premchand is the most famous Hindi novelist and Godaan is Premchand’s most celebrated novel. Economic and social conflict in a north Indian village are brilliantly captured in the story of Hori, a poor farmer and his family’s struggle for survival and self-respect. Hori does everything he can to fulfill his life’s desire: to own a cow, the peasant’s measure of wealth and w Premchand is the most famous Hindi novelist and Godaan is Premchand’s most celebrated novel. Economic and social conflict in a north Indian village are brilliantly captured in the story of Hori, a poor farmer and his family’s struggle for survival and self-respect. Hori does everything he can to fulfill his life’s desire: to own a cow, the peasant’s measure of wealth and well-being. Like many Hindus of his time, he believes that making the gift of a cow to a Brahman before he dies will help him achieve salvation. An engaging introduction to India before Independence, Godaan is at once village ethnography, moving human document and insightful colonial history.

30 review for गोदान [Godaan]

  1. 5 out of 5

    Shreya Bora

    No words of mine can describe the greatness of this novel. All i can remember is...i was inconsolably crying when i finished reading this novel (without even realizing that i was actually crying).... I am a modern girl hailing from a metro city.....never in my life have i been to a village, i have never seen farms....have never met any Peasent...realization of there existence in this world had never before occurred to me......i had often heard the news of farmers committing suicide...I had seen Ra No words of mine can describe the greatness of this novel. All i can remember is...i was inconsolably crying when i finished reading this novel (without even realizing that i was actually crying).... I am a modern girl hailing from a metro city.....never in my life have i been to a village, i have never seen farms....have never met any Peasent...realization of there existence in this world had never before occurred to me......i had often heard the news of farmers committing suicide...I had seen Rahul Gandhi speaking for the rights of farmers......i never bothered to get into depth of the issue....i was ignorant towards the matter and towards the farmers..... So when my dad suggested me to read this novel, for a moment i thought, "how could a novel set on the backdrop of a village and based on the life of people who are in a way completely aliens to me and in whose life i have no interest appeal me?"....then i thought....i should give it a try...i had heard enough about Shree Munshi PremChand. This reason was enough for me to give it a shot...... And to my greatest amazement, i lost the touch with reality while reading the book....the village became my home, the people seemed to me my own neighbours, their problems were mine ....When they were hungery, i too could feel hunger...when they felt cold...i too could feel myself shivering in my warm quilt..i could dream like Hori (d innocent farmer)....i could feel like Dhaniya(Hori's wife strongest and kindest woman i have ever known)....it was like i was one of them...what more do i tell All i can say is: I have not read it .....i have lived it.....

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rohit Enghakat

    I wanted to read a Premchand for a long time. The last I read was an abridged version in school in the Hindi class of 8th or 9th grade (if I remember correctly, it was "Nirmala"). Since I am not used to reading Hindi novels, I picked up the translated version of the most widely read novel "Godan" with great expectations. However, I was a bit disappointed. Maybe something was lost in translation. I guess translated versions of great pieces of literature should be avoided as it loses essence. Try I wanted to read a Premchand for a long time. The last I read was an abridged version in school in the Hindi class of 8th or 9th grade (if I remember correctly, it was "Nirmala"). Since I am not used to reading Hindi novels, I picked up the translated version of the most widely read novel "Godan" with great expectations. However, I was a bit disappointed. Maybe something was lost in translation. I guess translated versions of great pieces of literature should be avoided as it loses essence. Try this. "The loo started by 10 in the morning and it was burning hot". The loo here refers to the summer heat and not the toilet. Another line "He was parched, so he took a lotaful of water and drank it". Lotaful is actually a glass full. These words might sound good in Hindi version but not pleasant in the anglicised version. All in all a heavy read. But still if someone wants to try a Premchand, please go ahead.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Madhulika Liddle

    Godaan - literally, the donation of a cow - seems, when this landmark novel of Premchand's first begins, an event unlikely to happen, because the story starts with a poor farmer's desire to somehow buy a cow. Hori, the 40-year old protagonist of the book, owns three meagre bighas of land, is in debt to various moneylenders in his village, and (along with his wife Dhaniya, their 17-year old son Gobardhan 'Gobar' and their two young daughters Sona and Rupa) is living pretty much a hand-to-mouth ex Godaan - literally, the donation of a cow - seems, when this landmark novel of Premchand's first begins, an event unlikely to happen, because the story starts with a poor farmer's desire to somehow buy a cow. Hori, the 40-year old protagonist of the book, owns three meagre bighas of land, is in debt to various moneylenders in his village, and (along with his wife Dhaniya, their 17-year old son Gobardhan 'Gobar' and their two young daughters Sona and Rupa) is living pretty much a hand-to-mouth existence. Affording a cow, in these circumstances, seems a pipe dream. But when, by some give and take, coupled with some rather impulsive promises, Hori does acquire a cow, it appears as if all will be well... until Gobar, having left his beloved pregnant, runs off to Lucknow, and Hori sinks deeper into debt. But Godaan is by no means only the story of Hori and his family. This is a far wider canvas, and many interwoven stories. There are, of course, Hori's own relatives and fellow villagers: his two estranged brothers and their families; other impoverished villagers, the members of the panchayat, and so on. There are also those who people a world far removed from poor Hori's: that of the local zamindar, Rai Sahib, and his friends: wealthy, urban, successful: Mirza Khurshid; Mr Mehta; Mr Khanna and his long-suffering wife; the frivolous doctor Miss Malti, who encourages the attentions not just of Mr Khanna but of every other man around. And many others. It becomes obvious, fairly early on, where Premchand's sympathies lie: with the villagers, at the mercy of just about everyone, from the oppressive zamindari system to the moneylenders, the corrupt bureaucracy, the equally corrupt guardians of religion, to their own inability to break free of the shackles of superstition, tradition, and - at times - a misplaced optimism. Godaan shows well why Premchand is so highly esteemed in Hindi literature: his skill as a storyteller is superb. The characterisations are excellent, all the way from the submissive and downtrodden Hori to the hot-tempered and impulsive (but deep down soft-hearted) Dhaniya, to the selfish Gobar. Of particular note is the characterisation of the women, most of whom are exceptionally strong-willed in their own individual ways, whether for good or bad. The hypocrisy of the age (and of people, across time and ages), the divide between the poor and the rich, the urban and the rural, the many shades of grey in different characters: Premchand deftly sketches all of these into a story of hope and disappointment, of joy and despair, of ambition and greed and every other human emotion possible. And his language shows a deep understanding of human nature as well as literary brilliance: for example, this section talking about someone who has ignored the excellence of a loved one's character while in the throes of passion, and has only now - after the fire has died down - realised what had been overlooked earlier: "जब तक नदी बाढ़ पर थी, उसके गंदले, तेज़, फेनिल प्रवाह में प्रकाश की किरणें बिखरकर रह जाती थीं। अब प्रवाह स्थिर और शांत हो गया था और रश्मियाँ उसकी तह तक पहुँच रहीं थीं।" ("While the river was in spate, its dirty, fast-flowing, frothing water dispersed the rays of light. Now that the current had died down and gone silent, light was spreading across its surface"). Recommended. The only thing I wish was that there were fewer secondary characters floating around the book. About halfway through, the mini-stories of peripheral characters began to dominate the book, leaving behind the people I was most interested in:Hori and his immediate family. Had the author stuck to a smaller cast of characters and focused only on their stories, I might have liked Godaan even more.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Monika

    There is an ever-widening hollowness that life entails at birth. The clutches of society writhes the neck of its community. In the name of reputation, callousness grips the lives of people, particularly of the poor. Godaan (The Gift of a Cow) is as realistic a portrayal as it could possibly be. The surreptitiousness of a grim and mundane life is so realistically presented that the image that has been created concerning prosperity and happiness leaps over the fence of anonymity and passes out in There is an ever-widening hollowness that life entails at birth. The clutches of society writhes the neck of its community. In the name of reputation, callousness grips the lives of people, particularly of the poor. Godaan (The Gift of a Cow) is as realistic a portrayal as it could possibly be. The surreptitiousness of a grim and mundane life is so realistically presented that the image that has been created concerning prosperity and happiness leaps over the fence of anonymity and passes out in seclusion. Hori was an easy prey of the stalwarts of greed. His simple-mindedness and saintliness led to his exploitation by the moneylenders and landlords. Gobar, his antithesis in terms of adherence to the societal norms, could have been his savior had he really paid heed to him, but the weight of years of compliance seemed much lucrative [using words can be such an irony] to him than the freedom he could have had [irony, again, but hope outlives soul]. The novel alternates between the lives of both the poor and the rich. Both are on their own battlefields and both are being clutched very brutally. This novel gives a sharp Sisyphean pain - the pain seems unendurable, but what could be done in the face of life? Nothing. It is an everlasting, ever recurring pain; while there is an end to life, there is no end to this.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gorab

    4+ This has to be the most enjoyable reads of this year for we read it aloud as a couple, switching between listening and narrating :) [with a poor toddler giving us both confused looks of insanity!] Before reading Godan, had heard this is Premchand's last and best work, and perfectly portrays the village life of that time. But I was taken by surprise at the philosophical content and the depth of characters. Not only it showcases the farmer's poor condition (which ironically is "evergreen"), albei 4+ This has to be the most enjoyable reads of this year for we read it aloud as a couple, switching between listening and narrating :) [with a poor toddler giving us both confused looks of insanity!] Before reading Godan, had heard this is Premchand's last and best work, and perfectly portrays the village life of that time. But I was taken by surprise at the philosophical content and the depth of characters. Not only it showcases the farmer's poor condition (which ironically is "evergreen"), albeit the troubles and mentality of the rich and elite class too. Honestly, we had to skim through some parts, as the conversations were too heavy and philosophical to comprehend and felt a bit of a torture. (Peabrains!) But there were many many many instances which we could relate to and discuss at length which made the journey ever more enjoyable. This is a very well contained snapshot of India.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kavita

    Premchand is the one name that comes to mind when you think of Hindi literature, and Godaan (literally, "donation of a cow") is the one book that practically everyone in India has heard about, irrespective of whether they have read it or not. As for myself, I have delayed reading this really good book for far too long. Nevertheless, with farmers marching on to Delhi currently, this is a very apt time to be reading about the life of peasants and their hardships. The story is that of Hori and his f Premchand is the one name that comes to mind when you think of Hindi literature, and Godaan (literally, "donation of a cow") is the one book that practically everyone in India has heard about, irrespective of whether they have read it or not. As for myself, I have delayed reading this really good book for far too long. Nevertheless, with farmers marching on to Delhi currently, this is a very apt time to be reading about the life of peasants and their hardships. The story is that of Hori and his family. It is also the stories of his neighbours, employers, priests, and other people surrounding him. Godaan paints a vivid portrait of the Hindi belt pre-independence. The book was published in 1936, but it is amazing how relevant it still is today, more than 80 years later, in relation to that part of the country. The same issues of caste discrimination, gender discrimination, economic exploitation, still exist very acutely and it is getting worse. The story all centres around the desire for a cow, which is considered wealth. Hori is in severe debt to the moneylenders, who charge interest at a very high rate. All his earnings go in paying the interest, and he never gets around to paying back the principal, thus ensuring he never gets out of debt. The rich get richer and the poor just get poorer. Under these circumstances, getting a cow seems to be impossible. But circumstances conspire to give Hori a cow. But the cow brings more disasters than blessings. What is interesting in this book is that Hori and his wife, Dhania, themselves are both perpetrators as well as victims. They are so constrained with vapid concepts of prestige and honour that they squander money on irrelevant things instead of paying back debts or using money in a way that would bring them out of the vicious cycle. Even when his son, Gobar, offers to pay back money at a rate similar to what the banks charge, Hori allows his fear of Brahmins to overcome his common sense and refuses the offer. Similarly, Dhania insists on paying a dowry for their daughter's wedding, even when it was not required. Social conditioning appears to be as strong as direct oppression when it comes to people trying to get out of a hole. The characters from the village all come to life vividly. Their actions are believable. I loved that Premchand did not create a villain twirling his moustaches and raping women around him. His characters are both good and bad, but they are all conditioned by society and culture to keep in their place. The same villagers who hounded Hori wanted to come to his aid when outsiders come to bother him. This is very realistic and the author captured this grey area very nicely. There are also many secondary characters, whose stories are covered, adding to the portrait of village life. Hori's brothers and their problems are depicted well. Gobardhan's story takes up a good chunk of the book, and depicts the difference between city and village life. The story of Bhola and his family are also interesting. Sona and Rupa live with the consequences of poverty and their stories depict what price women sometimes have to pay for just surviving. There is a fatalism to the story, which makes it really intriguing. The one thing I did not enjoy were the stories of Malti, Mehta, Mirza, Khanna, and Rai Saheb. I am not sure what the point was, and these chapters appeared to drag on forever. Also, unlike the poor village characters, I felt that these characters were not as realistic. They sat about philosophising and boring everyone. The love story of Malti and Mehta was also annoying. I disliked the reiteration of sacrifice and devotion for women and I was unable to make out whether Premchand supported it or was satirising it. Whatever it was, this part was boring. The English translation was well done, though I suspect the original Hindi would be much, much better. I must read it once in its original form. The book provides a strong feel of the time and the place, something which many modern Indian authors don't seem to be able to do. I wholly recommend reading Godaan.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Pulkit Verma

    I simply couldn't do justice by writing anything about this book. The characters feel so lively that you forget that they are from a book. A true insight into the lives of Indians. You feel the pain of characters, you enjoy with them, in short you feel what they feel. A completely gripping novel with a great philosophical touch. You can only turn into a die-hard fan of Premchand Ji. A must must read for every Indian. And please don't read it in any language other than Hindi. I simply couldn't do justice by writing anything about this book. The characters feel so lively that you forget that they are from a book. A true insight into the lives of Indians. You feel the pain of characters, you enjoy with them, in short you feel what they feel. A completely gripping novel with a great philosophical touch. You can only turn into a die-hard fan of Premchand Ji. A must must read for every Indian. And please don't read it in any language other than Hindi.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Pallo(gmail)

    Lots of typos n grammatical mistakes in the English translation..will try to get my hands onto the original hindi version..but nonetheless painful n true portrayal of rural life in India.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shefali Mehta

    I am totally blown away by Premchand's dexterity in handling characters! So many characters, but not one is stereotyped or made to look like a caricature. All the major ones change over the course of the novel with the circumstances and reveal new sides to them. He does not try to garner insincere pity for the peasants, nor does he completely demonize the zamindars and other rich people. It is the unencumbered life energy, the medley of emotions and experiences, that runs from page to page. And I am totally blown away by Premchand's dexterity in handling characters! So many characters, but not one is stereotyped or made to look like a caricature. All the major ones change over the course of the novel with the circumstances and reveal new sides to them. He does not try to garner insincere pity for the peasants, nor does he completely demonize the zamindars and other rich people. It is the unencumbered life energy, the medley of emotions and experiences, that runs from page to page. And Premchand is sure a wise philosopher. He does not create a clash of viewpoints and then leave the scene (as has been the fashion of late), he shows the direction, and reveals his convictions regarding the values that are worth living for, slogging for, and dying for. This novel makes the arguments given by proponents of magic realism look lame. As Namvar Singh put it, the genre does not help with the aim of revealing the insides of the nations Other-ed by their colonizers. It only redoubles the mystification. No reality is ordinary or extraordinary to deserve either realism or magic realism to do justice to its uniqueness. Realism is not dull, if the writer has an eye for cutting right to the soul of things. I must put in a word of praise for the translation by Gordon C. Roadarmel. Some Hindi novels do feel weak when read in English. The dichotomy between the world of the novel and the cultural import of the language creates an awkwardness when the reader creates mental impressions of the story in the reading experience. Maybe they are simply a matter of bad translation, or maybe it is more. But in this translation, I did not feel English caused much damage, definitely not so much to look irksome.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Pushpam Singh

    This was my first exposure to the projected banal Hindi Literature but to my amazement it swept me off floor when i finished reading it. My friend gave it to me and hence i started reading. Munshi premchand is really a maestro in writing. It is hard to find someone even in English who can be compared to his writing skills. The story is about a peasant who fights with Zamindars for his survival. Most impressive aspect of this story is the stronghold over characters. Premchand never loses that. Mi This was my first exposure to the projected banal Hindi Literature but to my amazement it swept me off floor when i finished reading it. My friend gave it to me and hence i started reading. Munshi premchand is really a maestro in writing. It is hard to find someone even in English who can be compared to his writing skills. The story is about a peasant who fights with Zamindars for his survival. Most impressive aspect of this story is the stronghold over characters. Premchand never loses that. Miss Malti and Mr. Khanna are the two most strong characters of this novel. Though the book is full of great lines and remarks but if only i had to choose one such incident I would rate the Speech of Mr. Khanna on the occasion of election while addressing Women. He talks about role of women in shaping the society. It is an apt work of a adroit mind how he expresses his concern that why women are trying to fight with men when they are at higher position than men in all aspects. Women shape society, they control the flow. They should stick to their role of playing backstage supporter. I know some of us will disagree to this fact but it is true that it is only because of support of women be it mother, sister, wife that men find themselves strong. It was a great work of literature and it is unfortunate that not many have read this.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Deepak Mehta

    Godaan is doubly special, being the swan song as well as the magnum opus of one of India’s greatest writers, Munshi Premchand. A simple tale, told with the unadorned style of the rustic setting where it takes place, Godaan manages to shine light on the inequity of wealth, caste, and opportunities that plagued the India of a century ago (and still does to a large extent). It also manages to put in perspective the privilege most people take for granted, the disparity in the ambitions of the rich a Godaan is doubly special, being the swan song as well as the magnum opus of one of India’s greatest writers, Munshi Premchand. A simple tale, told with the unadorned style of the rustic setting where it takes place, Godaan manages to shine light on the inequity of wealth, caste, and opportunities that plagued the India of a century ago (and still does to a large extent). It also manages to put in perspective the privilege most people take for granted, the disparity in the ambitions of the rich and the poor, and implores you to question everything about life.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Imran

    Truly a classic. My first introduction to Munshi Premchand was his short story 'Hajj e Akbar' included in our First Year's syllabus. That was quite basic and preachy story. I didn't admire that writing at all. Then I watched Satyajit Ray's movie 'Shatraj ke Khiladi' which was a lovely adaptation of a short story by Premchand. His short story 'Kafan' gives you goosebumps. This novel is a sensitive portrayal of rural life in 1930s India and exploitation of humans in different shapes. The novel has Truly a classic. My first introduction to Munshi Premchand was his short story 'Hajj e Akbar' included in our First Year's syllabus. That was quite basic and preachy story. I didn't admire that writing at all. Then I watched Satyajit Ray's movie 'Shatraj ke Khiladi' which was a lovely adaptation of a short story by Premchand. His short story 'Kafan' gives you goosebumps. This novel is a sensitive portrayal of rural life in 1930s India and exploitation of humans in different shapes. The novel has quite a big scope as it touches various social issues including heavy interest on loans affecting generations, untouchables, religious and communal blackmailing, yellow journalism, etc. There are many strong characters in the novel but one can count 'Hori' and 'Dhania' as one of the most memorable and impactful characters written in Urdu / Hindi literature. Definitely a re-readable novel.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sonali Dabade

    Godaan is a social commentary of life in villages in the early 20th century and I don't have words to express how amazing I found this book! I began reading the Kindle edition but then switched to the audiobook because I was loving the narration by Shaswata Sharma. She was simply brilliant! I was in tears in so many places and now that the book has ended, I cannot feel my heart. This is a must read for everyone who at least understands Hindi. Listen to the audiobook at least. You'll understand wh Godaan is a social commentary of life in villages in the early 20th century and I don't have words to express how amazing I found this book! I began reading the Kindle edition but then switched to the audiobook because I was loving the narration by Shaswata Sharma. She was simply brilliant! I was in tears in so many places and now that the book has ended, I cannot feel my heart. This is a must read for everyone who at least understands Hindi. Listen to the audiobook at least. You'll understand why I'm so emotional!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Prakhar Jain

    Indian village is a conflicting entity. The opinions are broadly divided into the Gandhian and Ambedkerite view. While Gandhi saw village as a self sufficient little harmonious republic, it was a den of localism and cess pool of ignorance for Ambedkar. After reading Godan, I felt the reality of Indian village is somewhere in the middle. Munshi Premchand's book takes around 15 pages before one gets used to the language being used. But post this, it's a smooth ride. You begin to identify with the c Indian village is a conflicting entity. The opinions are broadly divided into the Gandhian and Ambedkerite view. While Gandhi saw village as a self sufficient little harmonious republic, it was a den of localism and cess pool of ignorance for Ambedkar. After reading Godan, I felt the reality of Indian village is somewhere in the middle. Munshi Premchand's book takes around 15 pages before one gets used to the language being used. But post this, it's a smooth ride. You begin to identify with the characters and their emotions resonate with you. Do read!

  15. 4 out of 5

    G

    Godaan is not a novel of peasant India. It is a novel of contrast. It depicts how, the peasant India dies day-by-day under the burden of debt which compounds exponentially within years, while those in the higher class are busy with their own little schemes. They play out their own games and suffer their own defeats. But the rigidity of the society does not leave any room for morality to prevail. It is a picture of India as I had never seen before. Written before 1935, it hardly mentions the Briti Godaan is not a novel of peasant India. It is a novel of contrast. It depicts how, the peasant India dies day-by-day under the burden of debt which compounds exponentially within years, while those in the higher class are busy with their own little schemes. They play out their own games and suffer their own defeats. But the rigidity of the society does not leave any room for morality to prevail. It is a picture of India as I had never seen before. Written before 1935, it hardly mentions the British, which at the time were ruling India. I wonder if it was due to apprehension on part of the author that the novel will face governmental apathy if it spoke against it, or, because the British plainly did NOT figure anywhere in the scheme of oppression that the poorest classes of the masses in India underwent. I believe in the latter, that for the most part, it was the Indians themselves who were oppressing the Indians. We got freedom from ourselves. And I don't think India would be an exception with this realization. Wherever there is oppression, there are bound to be sentinels of the lower class positioning themselves as the gaolers and the upper class, as the go-between for all forms of slavery. Everywhere, the hand cracking the whip on your back has the same tone of skin as the bloody one on your torn back. The characters are mostly independent in their thinking. They are what you might expect to see in a Hindi film belonging to the decades of 70s and 80s. An overtly free feminist; a professor who has rudimentary ideas about women while talking about progress of the country; a land-lord who is not heartless as to see his 'asaamis' (farmers) suffer, but cannot avoid to partake in the bribe that they have paid; a banker who hounds the feminist woman like a pup; his wife, who is the most ideal woman that can ever adorn a household, the very definition of sacrifice; an editor of newspaper which self-confessedly dedicates itself to the rights of the rurals and a lawyer who would sell his soul for commission - these characters make up the high society of the novel. It becomes necessary then, that the novel should not be called a portrait of peasant India, but a depiction of India as a progressive and free society, wherein, as it happens everywhere, those who can, oppress those who can not but suffer it all. To top it all, there is the social pressure of belonging to class, caste and creed, which makes the lower classes descend deeper into the abyss of indebted servitude, for this feeling of belonging is much more important to them than the naked sword of indefatigable debt dangling right above their tenderly exposed necks. The isolation of the upper class from the suffering of the lower ones does not mean that they have it easy either. They have their own crosses to bear, their own imagined "prestige". But it does look a little self-indulging to worry about the nose, when right under your nose, there are peasants of your land dying of starvation. The subplot of the pragmatic feminist and the incorruptible professor gradually falling in love alternately with each other and deciding finally that the mutual respect they have for each other will be the most they will ever have - this is contrived very well. Prem Chand also criticizes the newspapers which intend to make the masses aware of the real condition of the world. He shows the dichotomy of intention and desperation which leads to someone speaking one thing and doing another. In all, it shows how everyone in the country is bound, without room to flex even their limbs, in the rigid weaving called society and how they are bound to die in it without moving, without making the slightest change. It is a keen, rather acidic portrayal of the progressive India with characters who do not progress at all. (view spoiler)[And yes, I did cry at the end when the protagonist of the story died, leaving the legacy of unpayable debt to his wife. (hide spoiler)] For some reason, even now when I think about it, I feel on the verge of tears. There is something heart-rending in his defeat which touches you in the most tender places and tears out you that little emotion which you never think a novelist can reach at. It is the defeat of your self-belief. It is also the defeat of the tiny hope that things get better at the end. In real life, they don't. And this novel is nothing if not the bare, unashamed, truth in its most extreme honest rendition, of the India of that time. No wonder then that Prem Chand is called the one true "Emperor Novelist" among Hindi novelists.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Madhu

    In this book I like most is the commendable exposition of human nature by the author. The way he expressed the life of a man: the criteria behind the growth & limitations of human beings, is extremely touching. He beautifully revealed that even after giving one's full.... there is something that limits the growth of man. And when I was brooding over....these limitations: 'what controls us', 'what confines us'; it reminded me the Newton's first law that objects behave predictably; moving objects In this book I like most is the commendable exposition of human nature by the author. The way he expressed the life of a man: the criteria behind the growth & limitations of human beings, is extremely touching. He beautifully revealed that even after giving one's full.... there is something that limits the growth of man. And when I was brooding over....these limitations: 'what controls us', 'what confines us'; it reminded me the Newton's first law that objects behave predictably; moving objects don't change their direction unless an external force causes them to move from their path; and even if the object is at rest, it will remain at rest unless an external force acts upon it. Life of Hori the protagonist of this novel somewhere proves that even if we work with our absolute will and disposition i.e. with full potential of our body & mind, we could not win life. Blows of life reminds us that earthly life is ephemeral. Fleeting moments of life do not allow us to achieve that everlasting contentment. Because we mostly forget the most essential thing of life i.e. role of our soul; the real hero behind the scene. As the growth of our body & mind depends upon the food we feed; our soul also seek for divine love to evolve. Like Newton's first law.... until one gets the help of a living divine source who could invariably feed his soul, who could transmit His divine essence (the food of the soul) to his soul; who could awake his sleeping soul by the touch of His divine love---the force less force...... one cannot achieve the highest. For the highest growth we all have to create a complete balance between material world & spiritual world by equally treating our body, mind & soul. Thus for the growth of the subtle soul..... subtle food is the only way i.e. Transmission----The Love of God; an external force for its maximum growth.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alex Marcus

    Go-dan. A wish that was not fulfilled. Not when one was alive, not on one's death. After all what are the desires of a man, those that were never fulfilled. What is a man attracted to? Of course not to those wishes which were attained in his lifetime but to those that never found their destiny. A story of lessons, of connections, of society, struggles, faith, cheating, theft, of every problem, of every positivity that existed in society then, exists in society now! Patriarchy, feminism, atheism Go-dan. A wish that was not fulfilled. Not when one was alive, not on one's death. After all what are the desires of a man, those that were never fulfilled. What is a man attracted to? Of course not to those wishes which were attained in his lifetime but to those that never found their destiny. A story of lessons, of connections, of society, struggles, faith, cheating, theft, of every problem, of every positivity that existed in society then, exists in society now! Patriarchy, feminism, atheism - all have found their way in this one story. How women exercise their power in a society where they are supposed to be completely dependent on their men? What are the thoughts of a rural woman when she sees her urban counterpart with all her independence? How does a man reacts to the movement of feminism gaining it's ground in India? What reactions go on through the mind of a recently converted atheist? How problems throw you on roads you never want to take? How situations change the relationships that exist around you? And many many more things. The most beautifully highlighted was the rural life which circulated around Hori. His being good at heart despite all the trouble he was going through and the unwanted paths he was taking. The yet so demanded peace which Hori did not attain even at his death bed was another phase of the story which leaves the reader at yet another awe. The sudden reaction of Dhaniya on making the 'Go-dan' and the story ends with many questions unanswered creating a craving for more. Moreover, at no point you can make out what actually were the viewpoints of Premchand. ;) (Read the book in Hindi - First Edition)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pawanraj

    Describes the Life of a poor farmer Hori and his struggle to keep alive in the milieu of British Raj. Hori is a poor farmer, who has 3 acres of farmland, which he and his 2 daughters, a son and wife till. However, he is perenially in debt and is therefore never really the master of his own destiny. He is, however, largely at peace with his life and the only thing he wants is to own a cow. One day, he sees a milkman coming toward him with exactly the kind of cow he wants, but he has to hold his h Describes the Life of a poor farmer Hori and his struggle to keep alive in the milieu of British Raj. Hori is a poor farmer, who has 3 acres of farmland, which he and his 2 daughters, a son and wife till. However, he is perenially in debt and is therefore never really the master of his own destiny. He is, however, largely at peace with his life and the only thing he wants is to own a cow. One day, he sees a milkman coming toward him with exactly the kind of cow he wants, but he has to hold his horses as he cannot afford it. However, the urge to own it only intensifies. As it happens, he is able to get the same cow. However.... The book is a wonderfully written account of the trials and travails of farmers during the time of British raj and Zamindars. It also describes diverse characters that lived in the then Lucknow city. The story really starts off as at least two distinct life-threads, but through introduction of various characters, meshes into a single, interconnected story which still manages to portray the life of various characters quite well. The biggest draw for me was the character development. Each character is introduced, and developed beautifully. Godan is a story of various people from different backgrounds and of different personalities. The beauty of the story is in the interaction of these characters, and their subsequent development and the unmasking of the various layers of their nature. Premchand uses this vehicle to parody and satirize the then prevalent social evils, poke fun at various vagaries of human nature, and describe as well as comment / share his views on social, economic and political aspects of life in that era in a way that is extremely relate-able. The story makes you laugh, cry, think, and certainly paints a picture of life that not many books can do. It does all that with a simplicity that is delightful. If like me, you want to read serious Hindi literature, you won't go wrong with this book. Highly recommended.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sandeep Saroha

    its the best novel written by the so called greatest indian writer, Premchand. this book is about a poor peasant, named hori who had his lifetime dream of keeping a cow, but couldn't manage even this because of various social and personal hinderences. it confronts the reader with the actual reality of indian village, and its people, of how a poor villager prefers his man mariyada, or social status much above his own life. this book also shows the difference between life in cities and villages, an its the best novel written by the so called greatest indian writer, Premchand. this book is about a poor peasant, named hori who had his lifetime dream of keeping a cow, but couldn't manage even this because of various social and personal hinderences. it confronts the reader with the actual reality of indian village, and its people, of how a poor villager prefers his man mariyada, or social status much above his own life. this book also shows the difference between life in cities and villages, and an unusual linkage between them.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mansi

    A very poignant story. The ending especially left me extremely sad. Depictions of rural India hardly seem to have changed. The story has increased relevance when we realize that even after 60 years of Independence, there are farmer suicides happening in India. The debates about the role of woman and the ultimate aim of human life are very interesting. Premchand's nationalism and high morals are depicted in all his descriptions. All the issues he raises like women's treatment, caste division, hypoc A very poignant story. The ending especially left me extremely sad. Depictions of rural India hardly seem to have changed. The story has increased relevance when we realize that even after 60 years of Independence, there are farmer suicides happening in India. The debates about the role of woman and the ultimate aim of human life are very interesting. Premchand's nationalism and high morals are depicted in all his descriptions. All the issues he raises like women's treatment, caste division, hypocrisy and exploitation of politicians and upper castes are still significant today.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dhirendra Mishra

    The read felt that tonga-ride along the jerky, untarred, potholed village road. The poverty and compulsion-writ faces peeping out of the shabby windows at every wheel-turn left creases along the heart. Every peep was reminiscent of that hinge that had been throbbing in pain; had lost all, and was yet clinging to the door in the hope that its pain would subside some day, one day... What a read! Speechless...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Aamir

    This is about the most hardhitting book that I have read against wealth itself! It covers a period and society in India where exploitation is common. Not as good as Munhi Premchand's short stories, but a terrific book neverthless. This is about the most hardhitting book that I have read against wealth itself! It covers a period and society in India where exploitation is common. Not as good as Munhi Premchand's short stories, but a terrific book neverthless.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    An interesting look at intersections of caste and class, the rising nationalism, and comparisons between village and city life in 1930s India.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Vikramsinghposwal

    A didactic novel that set out to expose social injustice, Shri premchand exposes the hypocrisy of pundits and The astuteness of Baniya's (moneylenders) of pre-independence India. Set in north India, it is like our grandfather is telling the tales of his woes of youth, Premchand has exactly written in the same way that our grandfather used to tell us about the oppression of money lenders by their never-ending cycle of loan and interest. since the book was set in British-India premchand shows no i A didactic novel that set out to expose social injustice, Shri premchand exposes the hypocrisy of pundits and The astuteness of Baniya's (moneylenders) of pre-independence India. Set in north India, it is like our grandfather is telling the tales of his woes of youth, Premchand has exactly written in the same way that our grandfather used to tell us about the oppression of money lenders by their never-ending cycle of loan and interest. since the book was set in British-India premchand shows no interest in telling about the trannies and oppression of Britishers. Hori Ram, the protagonist is poor and semi-starved like other peasants of that time. He endures the tranny of money lenders and social injustice passively without complaining always blaming his Kismet (fate). Modern readers could feel disgusted with the passive attitude of Hori- but this was the way with the poor peasants-to endure the punishment, injustice and insult inflicted on them-tacitly. Dhania wife of Hori ram bold and fearless-unlike Hori she is bold enough to stand and raise her voice against injustice. poor but Eveready to help those in pain, always eager to help others- is an epitome of kindness. The book was originally written in Hindi, since, the translation can only capture the rawness of language partially-it delivers its crispy effect in original. like my teacher says no translation could ever do justice to the superb dialogue delivery of Premchand. The flavour of colloquial Hindi-peppered with Urdu and English words. I would love to read the original Hindi version of godan, not now, maybe after 10 years. "A novel of peasant India, no Indian should miss this novel, which premchand wrote with tears." ~the Nagpur times. if you are a north Indian and a progeny of farmer this is the tale of your forefathers. 4.5 stars. but I advise you to read the original Hindi version of the novel.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Utkarsh Sankhla

    This was my first Hindi novel. I bought this half a year ago, when it dawned on me that the only other language I knew to read or write apart from English, was Hindi. And I had spent zero efforts on retaining my fluency in it. And after thinking, I could remember just one Hindi author from my school days. Not good signs. Reading Godaan is a journey, on two levels. Just reading Hindi was exerting, and I could only read 12 pages in an hour. So to finish this book, i had to really dedicate myself to This was my first Hindi novel. I bought this half a year ago, when it dawned on me that the only other language I knew to read or write apart from English, was Hindi. And I had spent zero efforts on retaining my fluency in it. And after thinking, I could remember just one Hindi author from my school days. Not good signs. Reading Godaan is a journey, on two levels. Just reading Hindi was exerting, and I could only read 12 pages in an hour. So to finish this book, i had to really dedicate myself to it. The other journey is as you explore yourself while reading the undercurrents, the epiphanies and the agony of each character. Human nature is laid bare by Premchand - out for all to see and resonate with. Without exception, the strongest characters in the book are the women - Malati, Dhaniya, Jhuniya, Siliya, Roopa, Sona - each of them a fiery embodiment of individuality, filial duty and rebellion. There is no doubt that the story would be so much poorer, and just another story of poverty and oppression in rural India, had it not been for these women. And this really makes me question my assumptions about womenfolk in the villages. It's easy to paint a broad brushstroke and imagine them to be in need of rescue, but I realize one finds bolder stories of strong women everywhere, as long as one is willing to look. What I liked: the storytelling, the numerous characters and their arcs, the reflections of each character and the turmoil between their values and their wants. What I didnt like: Cant fault a masterpiece.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Siddharth Gupta

    A nice read that beautifully reflects how life is in a rural setting, contrasting it with the luxurious life of the rich class. How their problems are significantly different from each other, how each one of them has to fight to maintain their dignity and pride in society, how life plays out for the rich and the poor, how a poor farmer is burdened under huge debts but still finds happiness in little things. The mentality of the rich and poor is portrayed really beautifully!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Saurabh

    I read this in Hindi - it was my first Hindi novel. My hindi reading was very rusty when I started, but the book drew me in, and it is a compliment to it that I read it all, and I read it all with "gusto". Premchand is best when he writes about the village life. The stories of the main character Hori, a serf, and his family, are superbly written. The recurring theme here is hopelessness. Good things happen from time to time, but it's all generally downhill. In the beginning, Hori's landlord talk I read this in Hindi - it was my first Hindi novel. My hindi reading was very rusty when I started, but the book drew me in, and it is a compliment to it that I read it all, and I read it all with "gusto". Premchand is best when he writes about the village life. The stories of the main character Hori, a serf, and his family, are superbly written. The recurring theme here is hopelessness. Good things happen from time to time, but it's all generally downhill. In the beginning, Hori's landlord talks about how hard it is on him too, how he *must* collect the tax and so on, and it's not as much hypocritical as eye-opening and a criticism of the system itself. The most moving scene in the entire book (and there are many) is the description of an event in Gobar and Jhunia's (Hori's son and daughter-in-law) life in the city - an animal existence and a senseless death told in a mere two paragraphs that brought tears to my eyes. The other part of this novel is the city, evidently Lucknow. Like the military asides of Tolstoy's War and Peace, you are left wondering why the heck is all this in the book. The main character here, a Mr. Mehta, is so boring that if you saw him at a party, you'd automatically head for the punch bowl. His lecturing and philosophy on women, love, what have you - all of it is terribly incompetent. The only reason other characters dont call him on it is that Premchand must himself believe in it, so I dare say Mr. Mehta is somewhat autobiographical. Oh well, Tolstoy was a whiny bore in real life too.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Divya Pal Singh

    Wow! Godan is an engrossing and vivid tour de force of the socio- eco- politico-cultural status of pre-Independence India. It depicts the vampiric fangs of feudalism, the obnoxious and hypocritical caste divide and its appalling fallout on individuals and the pitiable lot of the farmer – who was literally at the bottom of the ‘food chain’. There is the all-pervading and preposterous usurious exploitation by shylocks; their exploitative methods result in extracting the last paisa from the farmer, Wow! Godan is an engrossing and vivid tour de force of the socio- eco- politico-cultural status of pre-Independence India. It depicts the vampiric fangs of feudalism, the obnoxious and hypocritical caste divide and its appalling fallout on individuals and the pitiable lot of the farmer – who was literally at the bottom of the ‘food chain’. There is the all-pervading and preposterous usurious exploitation by shylocks; their exploitative methods result in extracting the last paisa from the farmer, and, if that was not enough, grabbing his house, cattle and land. The exploitation carries on in the form of pan-generational bonded labour. The book also offers a glimpse of the so called ‘upper strata’ of Indian society before it was caught up in the turbulence of Independence. There is a frisson of adultery and an unrequited love story. This was a period before universal suffrage and talk of women’s empowerment. There is a convergence of the various protagonists but that remains inconclusive. A must read, albeit in Hindi to get the real feel of the dust, grime, stink and the pitiable condition of the Indian village.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rosun Rajkumar

    It's been such a long time since an old friend of mine suggested this book to me. My favourite Indian writer till now has been RK Narayan. Now, after reading Munshi Premchand, there is a tie! The plethora of characters in Godaan, the village-city conflict depicted, the zamindari system portrayed all add up to this book being one of the magnum opus ever to grace Indian readers. I was spell-bound as to even think each character will be so beautifully laid out- each having his/her moments, ups and It's been such a long time since an old friend of mine suggested this book to me. My favourite Indian writer till now has been RK Narayan. Now, after reading Munshi Premchand, there is a tie! The plethora of characters in Godaan, the village-city conflict depicted, the zamindari system portrayed all add up to this book being one of the magnum opus ever to grace Indian readers. I was spell-bound as to even think each character will be so beautifully laid out- each having his/her moments, ups and downs, truimphs and failures and all of them so beautifully brought together. I won't say which character said what as it wouldn't mean anything! I just want to say that I was totally in love with every nook and corner of his writing. The last 100 pages were so beautifully done. Each and every mini-story that runs in this mega-novel comes to a sort of its own climax. The last two pages had me in such tears that I was unable to see thru what was printed in those pages. The ending broke my heart!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Komal Mehta

    It's really difficult for us, the 21st century group, to comment anything about the old, un-educated, under-addressed, village life. I have personally never been to any village, and seen those earthen houses, and oil lamps. But this book has pictured those days as real, before my eyes. It was really devastating to even imagine the poor state of a family, where the single earner of the family knows his responsibilities, and keeps on working like oxes; son leaving for a city to have never come bac It's really difficult for us, the 21st century group, to comment anything about the old, un-educated, under-addressed, village life. I have personally never been to any village, and seen those earthen houses, and oil lamps. But this book has pictured those days as real, before my eyes. It was really devastating to even imagine the poor state of a family, where the single earner of the family knows his responsibilities, and keeps on working like oxes; son leaving for a city to have never come back, childhood marriages, and early birth pain. Munshi Premchand is a real maestro in hindi writing, who could accomplish such a legendary piece of writing almost 60 years back. He is a legend of Indian literature.

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