R. K. Narayan: A Painter of Modern India

R. K. Narayan: A Painter of Modern India

R. K. Narayan: A Painter of Modern India

R. K. Narayan: A Painter of Modern India

Excerpt

R.K. Narayan is much more than the storyteller he ambitions to be or the gentle novelist he was too long considered as. He is a fullfledged man of letters, with a style of his own and a social outlook that makes his work stand apart not only among Indo-Anglian novelists but also in the much wider field of world literature.

Critics who once concentrated on his stylistic originality now discover new philosophical depths in his novels of Malgudi. From Europe and India, books are coming out which bring new lights and open new interpretations into R.K. Narayan's fifteen novels.

R.K. Narayan defies many established literary conventions. He spent the first fifty years of his life within the same geographical area (what he describes as his cultural triangle, enclosed between the towns of Madras, Coimbatore and Mysore). He is deeply rooted into Hinduism and into Indian culture. Each one of his novel is located in an imaginary South-Indian town and all his heroes belong to the urban middle-class. Yet, R.K. Narayan is by no means a regional writer. Malgudi is India and India is the world. Wherever they originate from, readers feel at one with the Malgudi crowd. This universal appeal comes from the author's humanism.

At the root of R.K. Narayan's fiction lies a deep and unquestionable humanism which allows him to express his conviction that everyman can only belong to one culture: that of his ancestors. There is no escaping this law of nature. Accepting one's own culture as the ultimate value is no intolerence at all. Quite the opposite, it is the proof that cohabitation is possible when no interference is sought.

The question has often been asked, mostly by Indian critics, as to how much can the heat, feel and pulse of Indian life be translated into the English language. If it is true that there was a time when the British imposed their language to more than a quarter of the world's population, it is now clear that the original language is being enriched by local vernacular lexical traditions. According to each individual writer, English in India is given different hues and . . .

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