Premchand was one of the foremost Hindustani writers of the early twentieth century, and Godaan (first published 1936) is Premchand's most celebrated novel. Economic and social conflict in a North Indian village are graphically portrayed in the story of Hori, a typical Indian fanner, and his family's struggle for survival and self-respect. Grinding poverty is the Indian farmer' s greatest enemy, and Hori fights it to the bitter end of his life. As every Hindi, Hori cherishes the desire to make the gift of a cow to a Brahman at the time of his death, for it is common belief that this gift enables him to enter heaven. The novel is dominated by that most important of themes of Indian folklore, the symbol of the cow, and by Hori's ceaseless striving to achieve his goal. In striking contrast to the village scene is the picture of Indian middle and upper-class urban. life, which Premchand skillfully reveals through such memorable characters as Miss Malti, an attractive young physician, Pandit Onkarnath, a newspaper editor, Dr. Mehta, a philosophy professor, and Mr. Khanna, a bank manager and factory owner. In both the "traditional" and the "modern" settings there is oppression; in both there are clashes of values. Yet behind the distinctively Indian setting, readers will recognize universal human predicaments.--Adapted from publisher description.