Nepali society develops the early traces of modern consciousness in the 1930s. As we approach Nepal from literary writings, reading the contexts and texts to understand the socio-political worldview, we see walking has shaped the perceptions of people before the introduction of modern highways. People walked to see the world, understand themselves, and pay homage to their gods and ancestors. They brought home the memories, news, and new ideas from their travels. They were never tired of walking: they took rest and continued walking. This panel comprises of three papers on journeys in the novels, short stories, and plays. Dr Komal Phuyal presents the relationship between formation of political self and journey in the early modern fictions in Nepali literature, while Mahesh Paudyal reads pre-modern short stories to analyse formation of worldviews vis-à-vis place in the 1930s and 1940s. Dr Shiva Rijal’s paper contextually reads Nepali plays of the 1930s and 1940s to see the relationship between formation of self and journey.

Dr Komal Phuyal
Mahesh Paudyal
Dr Shiva Rijal

Chair/Convener: Dr Komal Phuyal, Lecturer in English, Central Department of English, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal
Discussant: (TBC)

Paper 2.1:
Author: Mahesh Paudyal
Affiliation: Lecturer, Central Department of English, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, Kathmandu
Paper Title: Place, Consciousness, and the Formation of Worldviews as Reflected in Pre-Modern Nepali Short Stories

This paper examines about 15 representative Nepali short stories set in pre-modern period, specifically before the 1930’s when road transport had not become accessible to the common people yet.  The characters in the stories under consideration travel on foot, or commute by means other than modern vehicles. This paper seeks to explore how the sense of place and its limited connectivity determines the characters’ worldview and shapes their psychology. The Nepalese worldview, before the country’s launch into modernity and exposure to the wider world abroad, was shaped by values shared through on-foot or non-automobile travel. Such values shaped by limited mobility defined the patterns of pre-modern Nepali worldview, including people’s faith in the unquestioned bountifulness of the land they inhabited, their organic bonding with their neighborhood, their unshakable faith in the local deities, and their strong commitment to the family institution, etc. This study will employ assumptions and insights of place theory and environmental psychology and demonstrate how Nepal’s worldview before the 1930’s was conditioned by the exigencies of a place.

Paper 2.2:
Author: Komal Phuyal
Affiliation: Lecturer in English, Central Department of English, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal
Paper Title: Journeying on Foot:  Formation of Political Self in Modern Nepali Fictions

This paper reads the early modern and modern Nepali novels to see how the characters view the formation of the political self in the backdrop of the journey. Prior to the era of highways in Nepal, the modes of journey happened in the form of walking, horse riding, or being carried by humans on their backs or in a palanquin. The first highway in Nepal, Tribhuvan Rajpath was opened in 1956: it changed the mode of travel for the people. The experience of travel holds prime historical significance now, for it reveals the worldview of the people before the inception of highways in Nepal. This study attempts to bring together the experience of the characters from the selected novels from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s to see the formation of the political self in the time of the intellectual and political awakening of the country. Girish Ballav Joshi’s Bir Charitra (1903), Rudra Raj Pande’s Rupmati (1934), Dharma Ratna Yami’s Samajko Euta Jhalak (1938), Lil Bahadur Chhetri’s Basain (1957), and Lain Sing Bandel’s Muluk Bahira (1948) picture of the society as witnessed through the eyes of the characters who travel far and wide, and observe the intellectual and political incongruent aspects of life. The new historicist reading of the fictional narratives helps examine the formation of the political self of the society as the society was preparing itself for change in the time proposed for the study.

Paper 2.3:
Author: Shiva Rijal
Affiliation: Lecturer in English, Central Department of English, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal
Paper Title: Walking Characters: A Contextual Reading of Nepali Plays 1930s-1940s

This paper aims to explore how the mode of travelling before the highway era in Nepal has been represented and preserved in Nepali literature mainly in plays written in the 1930s and 1940s. Given the geographical and economic conditions of the nation, Nepalis had no option other than walking to reach their destinations and moving from one place to another. This practice continued up until 1956, the year Nepal’s first east-west Tribhuvan highway named after king Tribhuvan Shah (1906-1955) was constructed in the southern plains also called Tarai. Playwrights had to accept the conditionality under which the characters had to walk to reach the places they needed to go. For presenting these characters mobile on foot, it was necessary to project the social and geographical ambience that such travels encompassed. The archives constituted by such means as photographs and the official and personal narratives capture such modes of travelling. However, the lively part of this practice still remains to be explored. We can say, the study of such walking practices would fulfil that. And it will be interesting when we study the plays of the period that capture the ‘walking’ spirit of the time. For that reason, the study of walking in the plays of the above period will be a very important academic exercise.