Impacts of Historical Pandemics on India: Through the Lens of 20th Century Hindi Literature




historical pandemics, 20th centrury Hindi Literature, pandemic literature, epidemics in India, cholera, smallpox, plague, influenza


India has been swept by pandemics of plague, influenza, smallpox, cholera and other diseases. The scale and impact of these events was often cataclysmic and writers offered a glimpse into the everyday life of ordinary people who lost their lives and livelihoods and suffered the angst and trauma of mental, physical and emotional loss. This paper focuses on the devastation caused by pandemics especially in the Ganges deltaic plains of India. Through selected texts of 20th century Hindi writers – Munshi Premchand, Phanishwar Nath Renu, Suryakant Tripathi Nirala, Bhagwan Das, Harishankar Parsai, Pandey Bechan Sharma – this paper aims to bring forth the suffering and struggles against violence, social injustices and public health crises in India during waves of epidemics and pandemics when millions died as they tried to combat the rampant diseases.

Author Biography

Prachi Priyanka, Sharda University, Uttar Pradesh, India

Dr Prachi Priyanka holds a doctorate degree in English literature. Her doctoral thesis is an illuminative study on the convergences between poetry and painting from the publication of G. E. Lessing’s Laocoon to modern times. Her areas of interest include intertextuality and visual culture, Indian literature, Partition narratives and Victorian studies. Her short stories collection ‘Thistle & Weeds’ was published in 2016. Her book Caste, Class and Gender in Modern Indian Literature is under publication by Authorspress, New Delhi. Currently, she is Assistant Professor in the Department of English, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Sharda University, India.


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How to Cite

Priyanka, P. (2021). Impacts of Historical Pandemics on India: Through the Lens of 20th Century Hindi Literature. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 20(1), 294–314.