Hungry generation  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel


Hungry Generation

The Hungry Generation (Template:Lang-bn) was a literary movement in the Bengali language launched by what is known today as the Hungryalist quartet, i.e. Shakti Chattopadhyay, Malay Roy Choudhury, Samir Roychoudhury and Debi Roy(Haradhon Dhara), during the 1960s in Kolkata, India. Due to their involvement in this avante garde cultural movement, the leaders lost their jobs and were jailed.Dr Uttam Das, Reader, Calcutta University, in his dissertation 'Hungry Shruti and Shastravirodhi Andolan' has explained how they challenged and significantly changed the language and the vocabulary used by contemporary writers to express their feelings in literature and painting.Template:Fact

The approach of the Hungryalists was to confront and disturb the prospective reader's preconceived colonial canons. According to Pradip Choudhuri, a leading philosopher and poet of the generation,whose works have been extensively translated in French, their counter-discourse was the first voice of post-colonial freedom of pen and brush. Besides the famous four mentioned above, Utpalkumar Basu, Binoy Majumdar, Sandipan Chattopadhyay, Basudeb Dasgupta, Falguni Roy, Subhash Ghosh,Saileshwar Ghosh, Tridib Mitra, Alo Mitra, Arunesh Ghosh, Ramananda Chattopadhyay, Anil Karanjai, Karunanidhan Mukhopadhyay, Subo Acharya,were among the leading writers and artists of the movement.


The word Hungry was coined from Geoffrey Chaucer's line " In Sowere Hungry Tyme". The philosophical background of the movement was based on Oswald Spengler's idea of Non Linear Time in a particular culture. The span of the movement was from 1961-1965.The movement was launched in November 1961 from Patna residence of Malay Roychoudhury and his elder brother Samir Roychoudhury. Prof Swati Banerjee has done an M.Phil on the Hungryalist movement from Rabindrabharati University under the guidance of Dr. Amitabha Ray. It is wrong to suggest that the movement had influence from the Beat Generation, since Ginsberg visited Malay at Patna in April 1963. Poets Octavio Paz and Ernesto Cardinal had also visited Malay during the Sixties decade.


This movement is characterized by expression of closeness to nature and sometimes tenets of Gandhianism and Prudhonianism. Although it originated at Patna, Bihar and was initially based in Kolkata, it had participants spread over North Bengal, Tripura and Benares.According to Dr Shankar Bhattacharjee, Dean, Assam University,as well as Aryanil Mukherjee, Editor of Kaurab literary periodical,the movement influenced Allen GinsbergTemplate:Fact as much as it influenced American poetryTemplate:Fact through the Beat poets who visited Calcutta, Patna, Chaibasa And Benaras during the Sixties decade. Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, now a professor and editor, was associated with the Hungry Generation movement. Shakti Chattopadhyay, Sandipan Chattopadhyay, Saileshwar Ghosh, Subhas Gosh left the movement in 1964.

More than 100 manifestos were issued during 1961-1965. Malay's poems have been published by P. Lal from his Writers Workshop publication. Howard McCord published Malay Roychoudhury's controversial poem Prachanda Boidyutik Chhutar(প্রচন্ড বৈদ্যুতিক ছুতার) i.e. Stark Electric Jesus from Washington State University in 1965. This poem has been translated in several languages of the world. In German by Carl Weissner, in Spanish by Margaret Randall, in Urdu by Ameeque Hanfee, in Assamese by Manik Dass, in Gujarati by Nalin Patel, in Hindi by Rajkamal Choudhury, in English by Howard McCord.


The works of these participants appeared in Citylights Journal 1, 2 and 3 published between 1964 and 1966, edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and in special issues of American magazines including Kulchur edited by Lita Hornik, Klactoveedsedsteen edited by Carl Weissner, Elcorno Emplunado edited by Margaret Randall, Evergreen Review edited by Barney Rosset, Salted Feathers, Intrepid, and San Francisco Earthquake, during the Sixties.(See references) Hungry Generation also known as Hungryalism challenged the mainstream literary genres. The group wrote poetry and prose in completely different forms and experimented with the contents. The movement changed the literary atmosphere of Bengal altogether. It had influences in Hindi, Marathi, Assamese, Telugu & Urdu literatures.(See references)


(1)The autobiography of Malay Roy Choudhury is available in Vol 215 of "Contemporary Authors" published by Thomson Gale. (ISBN 0-7876-6639-4) There are Hungry Generation Archives in Northwestern University in Illinois as well as Bangla Academy in Dhaka, Bangladesh. At Kolkata the Little Magazine Library and Research Centre run by Sandip Dutta has a separate section on the Hungryalist publications as well as trial papers of the famous Hungry Generation case in which some of the colleagues of Malay turned against the movement and gave undertakings to have withdrawn from the movement. Trial papers archived in Bankshal Court, Kolkata ( 9th Court of Presidency Magistrate, Case No. GR. 579 of 1965; State of West Bengal Vs Malay Roy Choudhury)

(2)Hungry Kimbadanti written by Malay Roy Choudhury and published by De Books, Kolkata (1997)

(3)Hungry Andolon issue of Haowa#49 magazine (2003) edited by Samir Roychoudhury and Murshid A.M.

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