“Suggest me a book that contains all the stories of Munshi Premchand !”
This is a common question hurled at me while discussing Hindi literature. If s/he is a new reader to Hindi domain, Premchand is both an appetizer & starter! And for seasoned readers, they seem to be looking out for collector’s compilation. In either case, he still remains a bestseller !
Here I introduce Premchand Kahani Rachnavali (6 Vol. Set) by Kamal Kishore Goenka (Ed.), a book featuring complete short stories of one of the most influential writers of Indian literature. This extensive edition houses all 298 stories that have been found so far with a proper timeline of its publication in various prints & magazines by Premchand.
Munshi Premchand, writing introduction for the name will be too naive of an affair to do. I’d rather give it a deliberate skip as a tribute to the literary giant who needs no introduction. But would like to offer my deep sense of gratitude to a man who helped me over my maiden multivolume venture.
So How Did I Come Across This Book ?
I was once inquisitively browsing Sahitya Akademi’s stall at my city’s book fair when Premchand Kahani Rachnavali caught my glimpse. I always dreamt to have Premchand’s Mansarovar (which supposedly contains Munshi Premchand’s all stories in Hindi) over my rack but the print quality discouraged a lot (a sad fact with Premchand’s remaining works as well). But the one from Sahitya Akademy looked as a collector’s edition with great sense of completeness in its mammoth 6 Volume avatar. Now, being a student (at that time), the price of the whole set was slightly out of reach. I even inquired if that was available in separate volumes so that I can purchase one after each as per my pocket. ‘He’ politely replied to my disappointment and but added that 10% discount is available over the same. I smiled and picked up some another title and left for yet another stall. After a while, I don’t know what drew me towards that stall again and got back to same place where it seemed to be waiting for me.
“Do you still want it?”, came a voice from behind.
“Yes, but …”
“Well, you seem to be very interested in the same and what I can do as a favor is to offer you a staff discount of 33% meant exclusively for us only. Will that be okay?”
I don’t know if that was still a business or generosity shown to poor college guy, but irresistible the offer was. Grabbed my copy with no second thought and got back home with literary bulk which now sits as a prized possession – thank you uncle!
So how is it different from Mansarovar which contain all stories of Premchand?
An obvious question from those who may be willing to buy or already have Mansarovar which boasts of Premchand’s complete collection of short stories.
Well, a little background first.
Premchand is believed to have written more than 300 short stories out which 301 are known & listed. But again, three of them have not been obtained till date. So this leaves us with 298 stories, many of which have been discovered lately. It should be noted as Premchand used to publish almost all of his works primarily in magazines so as to make a literary relation with his readers first. Once acquainted with their author, he believed, readers will buy their compiled and published work with no question in mind. Most of them were published in monthly magazines like Zamaana, Adeeb, Hamdard, Khateeb, Saraswati etc and were later consolidated & compiled as books, eventually bringing Mansarovar into existence. So Premchand Kahani Rachnavali is Mansarovar++ with following facts and advantage:
1. Mansarovar, though is projected as an anthology of Premchand’s short stories contains only 203 (220+ in recent publications) out of 298 published in Premchand Kahani Rachnavali. So one can have 95 additional stories – too big of a number & something not be missed. Thanks to K K Goenka & Amrit Rai (Premchand’s son who too was a prolific writer) for their exhaustive efforts for unearthing (and translating) rest of his works.
2. You get to read a well researched preface and introduction written separately before each volume. If consolidated, this can itself be a standalone book with good number of pages to read over Premchand (Dhanpat Rai) with enlightening information about the author.
3. The editor Kamal Kishore Goenka (greatly known as an authority of Premchand’s literary work and life) on many occasion emphasizes that the discrepancy with other collections published is that there is no trace of chronology of stories which appears in them. He thus produces a dedicated section with timeline of Premchand’s stories. The table of contents too remains adhered to the given format and each story ends with year of its publishing – a great data with historical importance as I would say.
4. My yet another gripe with Mansarovar is its mediocre quality of publishing (looks very cheap). For me, the author who is a doyen of Hindi literature deserves a better presentation. The one from Sahitya Akademi remains faithful to his stature. Hardbound, perfectly presented and better print quality will immediately seek the due attention. Trust me, it oozes quality when on bookshelf.
5. The price is lower than Mansarovar complete collection (Hardbound). I find no reason to ditch ‘Premchand Kahani Rachnavali’ for the sake of former.
So, for those willing to have Premchand’s complete short stories at their disposal, this may well meet their expectation. A way better than other compilation of Premchand’s stories. A must have for Hindi literature enthusiasts !
Do let me know if you have anything else to suggest …
You can also check my Hindi Article for a round up of Premchand’s Complete Editions.
Buy Premchand Kahani Rachnavali online at : AmazonIN