Premchand is one of the most outstanding figures in twentieth-century Hindi literature. His novels and short stories dealing with the lives of everyday heroes have attained the status of classics. His works continue to be rediscovered and to captivate new generations of readers in India and abroad. The inhumanity of caste hierarchies and the plight of women stirred his indignation and remained constant themes through his works. Of his many novels, Rangbhumi (Battleground, 1924-5) depicts most graphically the devastation of peasant society and agriculture under colonial rule. Premchand treads the very tricky ground of tensions between the rulers and the ruled in this novel. Here, the ruled are the Indians and the rulers are an amalgam of the whites, the Indian landowners, and the Indian Christians. Rangbhumi spans the time between the 1920s and 1930s in pre-Independence India. It captures and celebrates the unassailable spirit of the common man, especially the farming community, whic h knows no defeat or submission, as its spirit is always on the mend, even as it is perceived to be finally crushed.
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