“Between worlds: Hindi literary activism, the magazine & the short story in the 1950s”

Professor Francesca Orsini (SOAS), examines the production and re-production of short stories in Hindi literary magazines in the 1950s, offering a case study of the Hindi magazine Kahani (Short Story, 1954). She argued that world literature can only be envisioned and produced through local views, rather than under one overarching banner of what constitutes “world literature.” Kahani provides a window into this localized production, where “soft progressivism” was combined with an interest in aesthetics with the aim to train readers in aesthetic appreciation through the translation of “world masters” of the short story, while privileging new talent and more modern voices among Indian authors writing in the different languages. Her talk highlighted the medium of the magazine as a site of non-state literary activism that placed readers and young writers at the center, the preference for the story as opposed to the novel, and the multilingual knowledge that animated reading practices, even when publication occurred in a single language (Hindi).