Now in pape back edition, Gaban, first published in 1931, five years before Premchand's death, gives us a fascinating glimpse of north Indian society, and especially of the author's own Kayasth community.
But this novel also serves to put forth his own deeply-held views of the ills of that society - the insatiable love of its women for personal adornment, its failure to create fulfilling marriage relationships, and its moral corruption.
Ramnath, the morally weak but physically charming son of a poor but honest government clerk in Allahabad, marries the beautiful Jalpa. Her passion for jewellery, inculcated from early childhood, involves her husband in increasingly complex financial and personal relationships, and eventually leads to his apparent disgrace, and his flight from home.
Shocked into the renunciation of all her finery, Jalpa discovers Ramanath's whereabouts by a clever stratagem, only to learn that he has become the willing tool of the Calcutta police, who are bent on implicating several innocent people to successfully conclude an unsolved robbery case. Her courageous appeals to his better nature finally bring about his redemption and their reunion.
EXCERPTS FROM REVIEWS:
This translation, while faithful to the spirit and meaning of the original, is immensely readable.
- The Book Review
Finely produced, this book is a collector's delight.
- Indian Express
King's translation captures the social milieu detailed by Premchand.
- Indian Review of Books
Christopher R King was Associate Professor of History, and of Communication Studies, University of Windsor, Canada. He is the author of 'One Language, Two Scripts: The Hindi Movement in Nineteenth Century North India'.