Contemporary Nepali Literature: A Bird's Eye View -- Historical Background

Mukul Dahal ([email protected]). Editor: Pen Himalaya (

This essay is part one of the author's "Contemporary Nepali Literature: A Bird's Eye View."

Having come through the history of over a century, Nepali literature stands by itself as a literature that offers distinct colors and tastes of this Shangri-La kingdom. It is a continuation from the past to the present. So, Nepali literature, like other areas of studies, cannot be viewed in isolation. The past has always influenced the present and the present has always sought to break away from the bondage of the past.

The first written literary work in Nepali was Bhanubhakta's Ramayana (1883). The publication of the book created a stir in the Nepali society and marked the end of the ancient period and the beginning of the medieval. Because of the use of simple language and the rhythm easy to be picked by the common people, the Ramayana attained lasting popularity in Nepali society. The Medieval period to some extent was free from religious dominance of Bhaktikaal (Devotional Period). The period was so much bent on Shringaar (Romance). But the mythological tradition persisted through these times too. It saw an extreme of shringaar with the publication of Lekhnath Poudel's Suktisindhu (1917) which was banned by the ruling Ranas. This was an important event that forced Nepali literature to turn to society and social life.

The modernists' tone was most apparently set after the advent of democracy in 1951 although its sparks were already in view right from the beginning of 1920s. Writers began to study new trends of literature in the West and write under their influence. Various literary movements including Boot Polish Aandolan ( Boot Polish Movement), Sadak Kabita Kranti (Street Poetry Revolution), Aswikrit Jamaat Ko Kabita (Poetry of the Discarded Community), Ralpha Aandolan (Ralpha Movement), Bhok Kabita (Poetry out of Hunger) and Teshro Aayam (The Third Dimension) that appeared in the Nepali literary scene substantially contributed to the modern Nepali literature. All these literary movements together laid a concrete base for the literature of the postmodern times. In this write-up, I have made an attempt to cast a humble and hurried glance at the Nepali literature of the post modern times. So it offers only a superficial study, not an in-depth and erudite one.

Contemporary Nepali Literature: A Bird's Eye View

Postcolonial Web South Asia OV Nepal OV

Last Modified: 11 March 2004