Hemingway in Bangladesh and India



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



To evaluate the reception of Ernest Hemingway in Bangladesh and India, it is appropriate and impetrative that I make an attempt to gauge an appreciation of Hemingway in England. Why link the reception of Hemingway in Bangladesh and India with his appreciation in England? One plausible answer is that the academy in the colonial Indian sub-continent first came in contact with Hemingway and his writings via the British critics and authors.

Although the academy in colonial India looked at Hemingway both as a man and as an author, the British critics in the 1930’s and 1940’s appreciated him as “a story teller and particularly as teller of war stories” (Welland 31). Indeed, Welland believes that the Hemingway myth "suffered" in England "because it always reached the reader at second -- or even third hand" (32). This may be true with England, but not with colonial India. Here I disagree with Welland. I strongly believe that Hemingway's not traveling to colonial India or post-colonial Bangladesh and India and not acquainting himself with the people of these countries did not lessen his popularity any more than it aggravated the myth. His reputation there remained intact and unabashed.

With the advent of the study of American literature in the British universities and colleges, Hemingway came to be recognized and studied with zeal and intensity on his own literary merits, and not as an indication of his impact on English literature. Hemingway empathized with all types of readers, young and old, unlike the English novelists. Writing on "Defects of English Novels" in 1935, Cyril Connolly argues that "the English novelist never establishes a respect-worthy relationship with his reader. The American novelists, Hemingway, Hammett, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, O'Hara, for instance, write instinctively for men of their own age, men who enjoy the same things; … it is an intimacy which at its worst degenerates into dogginess, but which in general brings out everything that is natural, easy, and unrepressed in the author… English novels seem always to be written for superiors or inferiors, older or younger people, or for the opposite sex."

It is true that the influence of Hemingway on the English author has somewhat dwindled recently, but the fact remains that he has remained an historic figure if not a living force. Things, however, changed in India when it (along with Pakistan) became independent from the British rule in 1947. Pakistan, consisting of East and West Pakistan, further split in two, and Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) after almost a yearlong bloody civil war with Pakistan, became an independent country in 1971 with the resultant separation from English influence came an identification with other literature.

Although the introduction of American literature into the English curricula was moderately slow, the subject and scope of it has always fascinated the reading public and attracted considerable attention from literary critics and the academy in Bangladesh and India. In both Bangladesh and India the reception of American literature has intensified because of the success of a number of novelists in evincing a discernable influence outside America, especially in Europe. Indeed, the winning of the Nobel Prize by many twentieth century American authors has definitely brought the reading public, the professional critics, and the academy in Bangladesh and India much closer to the understanding and appreciation of the culture, society, and people of the countries that are separated geographically by a distance of more than ten thousand miles.

Of all the American authors that have been received most favorably in Bangladesh and India, Ernest Hemingway tops the list. My dissertation is limited to – though not exclusively – an examination of the reception of Hemingway by the academy in Bangladesh and India. In addition, I will examine the reception of Hemingway which appeared in the Bangladeshi books, periodicals, newspapers, etc. from 1971 to 2006. The critics, used here in a generic sense, included the regular Hemingway scholars, students, university and college faculty members with an affective interest in Hemingway, local authors who write in their native language, Bengali, and the translators of Hemingway's novels and short stories. Because of the political and socio-economic conditions, religious constraints, logistical problems, language barriers, and the paucity of relevant sources, my study of Hemingway was extremely difficult to accomplish. Because of this difficulty I have had to divide my study into Introduction; American Literature in Bangladesh and India; the Hemingway legend in Bangladesh and India; Hemingway's Short Stories; Hemingway's Novels; and a Conclusion.