9

In 1907, Dhanpat Rai, who later adopted the pen name Premchand, published his first collection of short stories, entitled Soz-e-Watan. These stories were "full of patriotic fervour" (Mahmud, page 129). According to Wikipedia,

[around 1909], Soz-e-Watan was noticed by the British Government officials, who banned it as a seditious work. James Samuel Stevenson, the British collector of Hamirpur district ordered a raid on Premchand's house, where around five hundred copies of Soz-e-Watan were burnt.

According to the introduction to an English translation of Premchand's novel Godan,

Soz-e-Watan, a collection of five patriotic stories published in 1909, was banned by the British and all its copies publicly burnt before their author. Premchand was forbidden to write anything without the permission of the District Collector.

After this, Dhanpat Rai adopted the pen name Premchand. (A few years later, he would also switch from Urdu to Hindi as the language of choice for his fiction.) Notice, however, that the publication date of the collection is here given as 1909 instead of 1907. Because of this inaccuracy in either Wikipedia or the above excerpt, I wonder if really all copies of the short-story collection were lost. For example, a manuscript that was sent to the publisher might have survived, unless the British did a really thorough job and destroyed that text as well. So is the text of Premchand's first short-story collection completely lost?

References:

  • Premchand: Godan. Ratna Sagar, 2000. (See Google Books.)
  • Sayed Jafar Mahmud: Pillars of Modern India, 1757-1947. APH Publishing, 1994. (See Google Books.)
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The book itself in Urdu seems to be fairly readily accessible.

Penguin Random House publish Premchand: The Complete Short Stories in four volumes which includes the five stories from Soz e Watan as the first five stories. This is confirmed by comparing the story titles from Soz e Watan (as listed on Penguin's India site)

  • Ishq Duniya aur Hubb-e Watan (Love for the World and Patriotism)
  • Duniya ka Sab Se Anmol Ratan (The Rarest Pearl in the World)
  • Sheikh Makhmoor
  • Sila-e Maatam (Sorrow’s Reward)
  • Yehi Mera Watan Hai (This is my Homeland)

with the Contents index (accessible via the Look Inside feature for the Amazon listing) for Volume 1 of the Penguin edition.

I also found an article at The Wire which relates the following from 'Premchand: His Life and Times' by writer and poet Amrit Rai, Premchand’s son

A thousand copies of the book were published, out of which about 300 had already been sold. He got the rest and surrendered them to the officer, which were burnt by the government. Incidentally, unknown to the government, some copies were left at the office of Zamana. They were sold secretly. Notably, the government’s stricture did not affect Premchand much: he was of view that he did his job by writing and the government did its by putting restrictions.

which suggests that a goodly number of copies survived the ban.

Thanks to @GarethRees for assistance in squashing a red herring from The Wire and accessing the Penguin Volume Index

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To add to the nice answer by Spagirl, not only has the text of Premchand's banned short story collection Soz-e Watan survived, these stories have now been collected and published (in the original Urdu) in volume 9 of Kulliyaat-e Premchand, published in 2000 by the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language, an autonomous regulatory body in the Government of India.

In fact, Kulliyaat-e Premchand, vol. 9, seems to be freely available for reading online as well as for downloading as a PDF directly from the Urdu council's website.

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