by Sarat Chandra Chatterjee

Je n'ai aucune idée de ce que Parvoti est devenue maintenant à la suite de tant d'années. Je ne cherche pas à le savoir non plus. Mais c'est pour Devdas que j'éprouve un profond chagrin. Après avoir lu l'histoire tragique de sa vie, vous éprouverez sans doute le même sentiment que moi. Néanmoins, si jamais vous rencontrez un malheureux, un débauché et un pécheur comme Devdas, alors priez pour son âme. Priez pour que, quoi qu'il advienne, personne ne meure de la même façon pitoyable que Devdas. La mort n'épargne personne. Mais qu'à cette dernière heure, le front du mort reçoive le toucher de doigts affectueux, que la flamme de sa vie s'éteigne sous le regard d'un visage empli d'affection et de compassion, qu'il voie au moins une larme dans les yeux d'un être humain. Ce serait pour lui un bonheur suffisant au moment de son départ pour l'autre monde. " Le narrateur conclut ainsi l'histoire tragique de Devdas, le personnage central du roman. Publié en 1917, ce roman raconte l'une des plus fascinantes histoires d'amour de notre époque. Devdas captive encore aujourd'hui aussi bien les lecteurs que les cinéphiles, ce qui témoigne de sa classe et de son caractère. Un des chefs-d'œuvre de Sarat Chandra Chatterjee (1876-1938), considéré au Bengale comme un Maître conteur (Kathashilpi), Devdas révèle un trésor de la littérature romantique indienne.

Publication Information

Published: 1917

Originally written in French

Number of pages: 195

Recommended FSL Programs and Grades

  • Grade 11 (Extended)

  • Grade 11 (Immersion)

  • Grade 12 (Core, Extended, Immersion)

Race/Ethnic/Geographic Information

Author: Indian (Bengali)

Characters: Indian

Setting: India

Notes from a teacher-reader

  • Hook: Love Story, relevant for South Asian students and students interested in Drama/Cinema.

  • 195 pages (big font, realistically 130 pages).

  • Originally a book written in Hindi in 1917

  • Includes a glossary of Hindi words.

  • Nostalgic for Gurki because of the iconic Bollywood movie by the same name.

  • Read as read-aloud for Core students - lots of words in Hindi, they cannot all be translated into French. Glossary is available at the back of the book - will help the students (words in Hindi are italicized so students can easily find them in the glossary).

  • Parts of India were once French colonies - students are interested and immediately hooked when they find this out because they understand how this is relevant to them.

  • Plot: It is a dramatic love story. Takes place in west Bengal and another place in India.

  • Gurki does a comparison with Romeo and Juliet because there are similarities with this story and students are familiar with them. Because students in Grade 9 and 10 would have already read Romeo and Juliet so it makes a perfect connection to the story.

  • Two main characters are childhood sweethearts. Book starts when they are both 8 years-old.

  • Content considerations:

  • Characters are 19 or 20 for the male character and 13 or 14 for the female character. He hits the younger character at some point when they are young (physical abuse).

  • Courtesan culture at the time the book was written - needs to be talked about with students. One of the main characters is a courtesan (however, no sexual instances in the book, nor does it allude to the fact).

  • The book also addresses child brides and bride prices (Main character gets married at the age of 14, which was a common practice at the time. She was very beautiful so the family knew they would get a good price for her).

  • Also the issue of casts.

  • Despite the content warnings, the topics are important to talk about even though it might be challenging to bring up in the class. Should do research on the history embedded in the book.

  • Two characters from different socio-economic status that’s why they are unable to marry each other.

  • Gurki uses the movie in his class as well, ordered DVD from France (off Amazon).

  • Harsimran Sandhu - used the movie, follow up discussions were interesting in the classroom.

  • Majority of South Asian descendants in our classrooms. Some said they talk about Bollywood movies, but we don’t talk about the literature as much as we do English literature. As a result many internalized that Indian movies and books are less than English ones.

  • Students expressed pride in the follow-up assignments and discussions. Saw value in the movie they grew up watching it and is now being discussed in the classroom. Recommend cutting out some scenes (for example where their was alcohol consumption, skip over that).

  • These classroom discussions made it clear to Harsimran the value and importance of representation.

  • Female leads address many of the stereotypes that were common in Indian movies at the time and around South Aisan Women. Students noticed and talked about this.

  • Students noticed two main female characters are strong female characters that overshadowed the male character, and even stronger characters than Juliet (in Romeo and Juliet).

  • The book gave a humanised view on Bollywood movies as opposed to the stereotypical images around Bollywood movies. You can discuss difference between Bollywood Cinema and Hollywood Cinema.

  • A classic film adaptation with French dubbing and subtitles.

  • Classroom use:

    • Compare book and movie.

    • Conversation on media and culture (Hollywood vs Bollywood musical experience).

    • Compare and contrast essay (book and film, with Romeo and Juliet, or any love story).

    • Work well with: Love Unit, Film Unit, Culture = Francophonie with Pondicherry.

    • Content warnings: Drinking, self-harm, referencing the life of a courtesan.

Feel free to contact the teacher-reader, Gurki Sidhu , at if you have questions about this novel.