The story is set in a village near Tarakeshwar, in the district of Hooghly in West Bengal, near the author's birth-place, Devanandapur. The time is apparently early twentieth century, when village life was dominated by social conventions and caste prejudices, and social power was wielded by the richer sections of the society, namely, landlords and moneylenders, and to a lesser extent, by the Brahmins. The low-born and the poor were completely at the mercy of the leaders of the society who dealt with them in any way they pleased.
The novel deals with the efforts of Ramesh, a young Rookie-trained engineer, to bring some change in the caste-ridden village and to elevate the villagers to a better level of existence. There is also the story of Ramesh and Rama, childhood friends, and their mutual attraction, a relationship which is, however, doomed, as social convention decrees that they must not come close to each other. The novel deals in depth with the corruption that infects the village, and Ramesh's efforts to remove it. In the end we find that Ramesh has been partly rewarded, but he has lost Rama forever.
Prasenjit Mukherjee (b. 1957) did his Master's degree in English Literature the highest distinction. From 1977 to 1980 n Berhampur University before joining the from Utkal University in 1976 with he served as an English lecturer Indian Audit and Accounts Service
Saratchandra Chattopadhyay (or Chatterjee) was born on 15 September, 1876, at Devanandapur, a village in the district of Hooghly in West Bengal, not very far from Calcutta. He was the eldest son of Motilal Chatto-padhyay and Bhubanmohini, daughter of Kedarnath Ganguly of Bhagalpur in Bihar. According to the prevalent custom, Motilal, a Brahmin of the highest class, married at an early age, when he was only fourteen or fifteen. He completed his education in his father-in-law's house at Bhagalpur and passed the university entrance examination. However, except for a brief period of about two years (1884-1886), when Motilal served at Dehri-on-Sone, he remained mostly unemployed and had to pass his days in poverty. Bhubanmohini used to stay most of the time with her parents at Bhagalpur, along with her children and sometimes with her husband also.
Saratchandra received his early education at Deva-nandapur and Bhagalpur. He passed the entrance examination at Bhagalpur, in December, 1894. He then joined the First Arts class in T.N. Jubilee College. Unfortunately, his mother died the next year. Bhubanmohini's death was nothing short of a disaster for the family. After his wife's death, Motilal set up a separate establishment at Bhagalpur with his children. His Devanandapur house was sold in repayment of a loan. Next year, when the time came for his university examination, Saratchandra was unable to appear at the examination.
This was the end of his formal education. For some time in 1899, Saratchandra served underthe Boneli Raj Estate in connection with their land-set-tlement work in Santhal Parganas. He had to live in a tent and cook his own food. The landowner's son used to visit the camp from time to time. During his visit music and dance soirees were held. This was a new experience for Saratchandra. When this work was over, he returned to Bhagalpur. Except for this short period, Saratchandra had to re-main unemployed for a number ofyears. He utilized his time in literary pursuits and in intensive study of Bengali, English and continental literature in the li-brary of his friend and neighbour, Bibhutibhushan Bhatta. During this time he also acquired some profi-ciency in music and interested himself in drama and took part in the theatrical performances organized by the Adampur Amateur Dramatic Club. One day, towards the end of 1901, aggrieved at his father's rebuke, Saratchandra left his house and went away in the company of a band of Hindu mendicants. In course of his wanderings he came to Muzaffarpur, where he received the news of his father's sudden death, in the middle of 1902, and hastened to Bhagalpur.
When his father's funeral was over, Saratchandra went to Calcutta in search of a job. Having failed to secure a suitable job there, Saratchandra left in January 1903 for Burma, where Aghorenath Banerjee, husband of one of his mother's cousins, was a successful lawyer. There he served temporarily, first at Pegu and then at Rangoon, and at last received a permanent appoint-ment in the office of the Deputy Accountant-General, Rangoon. He served there till May 1916, when he returned to India, to devote himself exclusively to literature.
In 1921, Saratchandra joined the freedom struggle and came in close contact with Chittaranjan Das and Subhas Chandra Bose. He worked as Chairman of the Howrah District Congress Committee for a number of years and was also a member of the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee and the All-India Congress Com-mittee. When his novel Pather Dabi, dealing with the revolutionary movement, was published in 1926, it was proscribed by the British Government. In 1923, the University of Calcutta awarded the Jagattarini Gold Medal to Saratchandra. The first re-cipient of this award was Rabindranath Tagore, in 1921. In July 1936, the honorary degree of Doctor of Litera-ture was conferred upon Saratchandra by the Univer-sity of Dacca. Saratchandra died on 16 January, 1938, at the age of sixty-two.
Saratchandra has given us the following account of his literary career:
'My childhood and youth were passed in great poverty. I received almost no education for want of means. From my father I inherited nothing except, as I believe, his restless spirit and keen interest in literature. The first made me a tramp and sent me out tramping the whole of India quite early, and the second made me a dreamer all my life. Father was a great scholar and he tried his hand on stories and novels, dramas and poems; in short, every branch of literature, but never could finish any-: king. I have not his work now; somehow, it got lost; but I remember poring over these incomplete MSS over and over again in my childhood, and many a night I kept awake regretting their incompleteness and thinking -.v hat might have been their conclusion, if finished. Probably this led to my writing short stories when I was barely seventeen. But I soon gave up the habit as useless, and almost forgot in the long years that followed that I could even write a sentence in my boyhood.
Item Code: NAP553 Author: Sarat Chandra Chatterjee Cover: Paperback Edition: 2011 Publisher: Rupa Publication Pvt. Ltd. ISBN: 9788171675609 Language: English Size: 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch Pages: 186 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 210 gms