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Munshi Premchand Birth Anniversary: Here’s a Look at the Best Translations of His Books

Popularly known as Upanyas Samrat, Premchand is famous for his modern Hindi-Urdu literature.

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Updated:July 31, 2019, 8:36 AM IST
Munshi Premchand Birth Anniversary: Here’s a Look at the Best Translations of His Books
Happy 138th, Upanyas Samrat... and thanks for the stories that are as relevant today as the day they were penned. (Image: Network18 Creative)

Born as Dhanpat Rai on July 31, 1880 in the Lamhi village near Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, the Indian writer found fame under his pen name Munshi Premchand, even though he began writing under the pen name "Nawab Rai ". His first name - Munshi is an honorary prefix given by his lovers in the society because of effective and quality writings.

Premchand wrote over a dozen works, 250 short stories and numerous essays. He had also translated a number of foreign literary works into Hindi language.

Love for books was not new for Premchad. His bond with literature began after his mother's death. He started reading and to get a chance to read more books, he started working as a book seller at a wholesale book shop.

As the country remembers Premchand on his 139 birth anniversary, here's looking at some of the best translations of his books:


Considered to be one of the greatest Hindi novels of modern Indian literature, Godan, was first published in 1936. The book was translated into English as The Gift of a Cow. While it was first translated in English in 1957 by Jai Ratan and P. Lal translation, Gordon C. Toadarmel 1968 translation is now considered to be a classic in itself. The novel is set in the pre-colonial period and takes us on a trip through the lives of a poverty-stricken peasant family in India.


Published in 1931, the literal meaning of Gaban is embezzlement. Premchand had written the novel in realism style and had used the characters in a way that readers are left with no option but to get engrossed in it. The classic novel describes the true picture of the Indian society. Gaban has been translated in English by Christopher R. King.


The melodramatic novel written by Premchand centres on Nirmala, a young girl who was forced to marry a widower of her father's age. The story unfolds after Nirmala's husband start suspicious that there is a relationship brewing between his wife and his eldest son. The suspicion leads to the son's death. The novel also speaks about dowry. Nirmala was first published in 1927. The novel which was initially written in Hindi and Urdu languages was translated in English for the first time in 1988 as The Second Wife by David Rubin. In 1999, Premchand's grandson Alok Rai translated the novel again in English using the same name, Nirmala.

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