Ranchhodlal Udayaram Dave (1837-1923) is seen as a groundbreaker in the art of play- writing in Gujarati. Other dramatists of note were Dalpatram, Narmad and Navalram. The poets of note include Narsinhrao Divetiya (Smarana Samhita, Kusumamala, Hridayavina, Nupur jhankar and Buddha Charit); Manishankar Ratanji Bhatt or Kavi Kant (Purvalap) and Balwantray Thakore (Bhanakar).

Poet Nhanalal, author of Vasantotsava (1898) and Chitradarshan (1921), an epic referred to as Kuruksetra, outshone in his apadya gadya or rhyming prose. Govardhanram Tripathi (1855-1907), author of Saraswatichandra, was among the celebrated novelists of Gujarati literature.

During the period of influence of Gandhi, Gujarat Vidyapith became the nerve-centre of all literary activities. Novels, short stories, diaries, letters, plays, essays, criticisms, biographies, travel books and all kinds of prose began to flood Gujarati literature.

Modern Gujarati prose was given prominence by KM. Munshi, one of the best known literary figures of Gujarati literature whose works include dramas, essays, short stories and novels and Mahatma Gandhi, whose An Autobiography of My Experiments with Truth, Satyagraha in South Africa, Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule, a political pamphlet, and a paraphrase in Gujarati of John Ruskin’s Unto The Last are well- known works.

During the 1940s, there could be witnessed a rise in communistic poetry and this inspired a movement for progressive literature in Gujarati. Poets like Umashankar, Sundaram, Shesh, Snehrashmi and Betai, amongst others, centred on the existing social order, the struggle for independence and the travails of Mahatma Gandhi himself.

Inspired by Rabindranath Tagore’s poems, Umashankar Joshi enriched Gujarati literature by writing in Tagore’s style. His writings include Prachina, Mahaprasthan, Nishith (Jnanpith Award in 1967). The Gujarati novel was also made a household name by G.G. Joshi (‘Dhumaketu’), Chunilal V. Shah, Gunvantrai Acharya, Jhaverchand Meghani, Pannalal Patel and Manubhai Pancholi.

Chandravadan Mehta, Umashankar Joshi, Jayanti Dalai and Chunilal Madia were some significant dramatisits and Kaka Kalelkar, Ratilal Trivedi, Lilavati Munshi, Jyotindra Dave and Ramnarayan Pathak the noted essayists of the time.

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