Nepali language evolved from Sanskrit and it is difficult to exactly date the history of Nepali language literature since most of the early scholars wrote in Sanskrit. It is, however, possible to roughly divide Nepali literature into five periods.
It is thought that Nepali literature has existed in verbal folklore for the past hundreds of years; however, there exists no evidence of a written literary work before the Bhanubhakta. Before Bhanubhakta, writing was done in Sanskrit, and because it was a language accessible exclusively by high-caste Brahmins at that time, common Nepali people were not involved in literature. A few scholars have argued that poet Suwananda Daas was the first literary figure in the history of Modern Nepal. Being contemporary of Bhanubhakta but still representing Nirgun Bhakti Dhara (attribute-less devotional stream) Saint Gyandil Das was an outlined poet in Nepali who wrote Udayalahari.
Nepali speakers honor Bhanubhakta as the "Adikavi (Nepali: अादिकवि)" (literally meaning 'first poet') of the Nepali language. Bhanubhakta's most important contribution to Nepali literature is probably his translation of the holy Ramayana into the Nepali language. He transcribed Ramayana in metric form, using the same form as Sanskrit scholars. Besides translating the Ramayana, Bhanubhakta also wrote original poems on a diverse range of subjects: from advocacy of family morals to satires of bureaucracy and poor conditions of prisoners.
Early 20th century
Motiram Bhatta (1923–1953) revived the legacy of Bhanubhakta and publicized the contributions of the latter. Motiram played such a fundamental role in the legacy of Bhanubhakta that some allege that Bhanubhakta was just a fabrication of Motiram's mind.
The Pre-Revolution Era was a very prolific time for creative writing despite the lack of freedom of expression, during the period the independent magazine "Sharada" was the only printed medium available for publication of Nepali literature. Short stories by Laxmi Prasad Devkota, Guru Prasad Mainali, Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala and Gadul Singh Lama (Sanu Lama), has become recognized as of tremendous importance. It is arguably the most significant period for the development of Nepali literature.
Plays like the influential Muna Madan by Laxmi Prasad Devkota tell the tales of human lives: the story is about a man who leaves his wife, mother, and home, to earn money abroad and the tragedy of his mother's and wife's deaths when he returns home. However, the story also portrays the life of the wife who suffered greatly without her husband. Other stories by Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala introduced psychology into literature, for instance through creations such as "Teen Ghumti", "Doshi Chasma" and "Narendra Dai".
This regime produced several prominent poets such as, Laxmi Prasad Devkota, Gopal Prasad Rimal, Siddhicharan Shrestha, Bhim Nidhi Tiwari and Balkrishna Sama. Later, several poets come into light during the Panchayat regime. Indra Bahadur Rai, Parijat, Bhupi Sherchan, Madhav Prasad Ghimire, Bairagi Kainla, Krishna Bhakta Shrestha, Madan Regmi, Dwarika Shrestha, Mohan Koirala, Upendra Shrestha, Ishwor Ballav, Tulasi Diwas and Krishnabhushan Bal can be named in this regard.
There are many modern Nepali language authors who have been active in writing groundbreaking, innovative Nepali literature in the era after the Democracy Revolution of 1991 and continuing into the present day, e.g. Khagendra Sangraula, Shailendra Sakar, Yuyutsu Sharma, Bimal Nibha, Nayan Raj Pandey, Narayan Wagle, Mahananda Poudyal, Toya Gurung, Durba Chandra Gautam, Bakhat Bahadur Thapa, Roshan Thapa, Saru Bhakta, etc.
Among the younger generation poets the names of Sarada Sharma, Buddhi Sagar, Ramesh Kshitij, Nawa Raj Subba, Suman Pokhrel, Homraj Acharya, Netra Atom, Raj Kumar Bania, Vivash Basti, Bimal Bhoikaje, Gayatri Bist, R. M. Dangol, Prateek Dhakal, Padam Gautam, Jyoti Jungle, Amog Kafle, Khadga Sen Oli, Sudip Pakhrin, Ramesh Paudel, Biplov Prateek, Hom Parbag, Vyakul Pathak, Khumnarayan Poudel, Saran Rai, Vishnu Rai, Rasa, Shyam Rimal, Promod Snehi, Chunky Shrestha, Rajendra Shrestha, Prakash Silwal, Prahlas Sindulee, Lal Gopal Subedi, Bimala Tumkhewa, Tanka Uprety, and Gyanendra Vivash can be cited.
Nepali language speakers are rapidly migrating around the globe and many books of Nepali language literature are published from different corners of the world. Diasporic literature has developed new ways of thinking and created a new branch in Nepali language literature.
- Himalayan Voices: An Introduction to Modern Nepali Literature (Voices from Asia), edited and translated by Michael J. Hutt, University of California Press, 1991. p. 5. ISBN 9780520910263
- "The Gentle Literary Giant" (PDF). Government of Sikkim. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 8, 2015. Retrieved December 3, 2015.
- Gorkhas Imagined: I.B. Rai in Translation, Eds. Prem Poddar and Anmole Prasad, Mukti Prakashan, 2009
- K. Pradhan: A History of Nepali Literature, New Delhi: Sahitya Akad., 1984
- Gorkhas Imagined: Indra Bahadur Rai in Translation, edited by Prem Poddar and Anmole Prasad, Mukti Prakashan, Kalimpong, 2009.
- Himalayan Voices: An Introduction to Modern Nepali Literature (Voices from Asia) [Anthology], edited and translated by Michael J. Hutt, Univ of California Press, 1991. ISBN 9780520910263
- Stewart: Secret Places (Manoa 13:2): Featuring New Writing from Nepal, ed. by Frank Stewart, Samrat Upadhyay, Manjushree Thapa, University of Hawaii Press, illustrated edition 2001
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- Roaring Recitals:Five Nepali Poets, Translated into Nepali by Yuyutsu RD Sharma, Published by Nirala Publications, New Delhi, 1999*
- Pratik: A Magazine of Contemporary Writing, Edited by Yuyutsu RD Sharma, Kathmandu
- नेपाली गजल : मलाई मात्र थाहा छ म पागल भा छु भन्ने
- The largest online magazine for Nepali Literature Online Sahitya
- Nepali Poems In Nepali By Popular Poets @ Sanjaal
- Nepali Stories In Nepali @ Sanjaal
- A Bangla Article on Nepali Literature
- Nepali Literature Website Collections of Nepali poems, articles, stories
- नेपाली कबिता – नेपाली मुक्तक, Love poem at mylove.com.np
- The Applicant
- नेपाली गजल : मलाई छाडी गा’की तिम्लाई सधै सुख होस्