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Indian Poetry and Oral Narratives during the First World War: A Subaltern response

Journal: International Journal of English, Literature and Social Science (Vol.6, No. 6)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 74-80

Keywords : Subaltern; structures of feeling; memory and trauma; Eurocentric attitude; folk songs; oral literature.;

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First World War creates a kind of global impact all over the world. Almost all major countries joined in the battlefield and they shared their own experiences that were recorded as a saga of war history. India was no less an exception. During the First World War, the inhuman torture of the ‘master' class and the war experiences of the British-Indian army have been shared either by their own voices or by the verse of many poets of undivided India through their own sense perceptions and “continuous overflow of powerful feelings”. It was a major turn of global historiography in the world literature. The oral narratives of the soldiers may not be always the ‘high literature' but they are highly literary in the sense of their shared memories of war and trauma. The semi-literate people from the villages of Asia, Africa or the South Pacific came voluntarily or involuntarily to save their mother India and what they left is oral saga rich in their own culture and language that is often fused to a variety of forms, from everyday prayers, chants and folk songs through verse recitations and storytelling. India as a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic and multi-religious country offers many prose and verse in vernacular languages that unveil the subaltern response to the Eurocentric attitude to war. In my article I have tried to investigate and unfurl the voices of the subaltern Indian soldiers and their families as well as the poems written by the multilingual poets from undivided India that reestablish an Indian war experience and the complex ‘structures of feelings'.

Last modified: 2021-12-04 17:25:00