The book is an attempt to analyze and evaluate R.K. Narayan's fictional world in the light of modern and post-modern concepts. Many books have already been published, containing good scholarly essays on his novels and short-stories. The present book will not only be a step in the same direction, but it will also make the reader think and understand how, even after so much critical work on Narayan during the last three decades, there are many quarters which have not been touched by the critics and scholars so far.
The book will take the reader to venture beyond unexplored regions in the fictional world of Narayan. In addition to this, it will also benefit critics who wish to work on Narayan but are unable to find a suitable topic, and whose proposals are generally rejected, with a simple comment that much work has already been done on this writer and there is hardly any scope for further research in this field. The book will be helpful to students of English Literature to know how modern approaches and theories of criticism can be applied to traditional Indian writers.
The book contains 16 papers. Some papers are by renowned critics who are already in teaching profession. A couple of papers are by research scholars (working on Narayan for their Doctoral degree), which have been included because of their entirely new approach in this sphere. For a couple of articles, which have been borrowed from journals, the permission has already been taken. These articles have been included because of their relevance and insight.
Dr. Amandeep Rana is working as Head of Post Graduate Department of English at JC DAV College Dasuya (Hoshiarpur) in Punjab (affiliated to PU Chandigarh). Dr. Rana himself worked on R.K. Narayan for his M.Phil. and Ph.D. from H.P. University, Shimla. He has already published 6 articles on R.K. Narayan in reputed journals. He also organized a UGC sponsored two-day National Conference exclusively on R.K. Narayan. Presently, he is working on a UGC sponsored Research Project.
Writing forewords to edited books of essays by various scholars does not come naturally to me. It seems to convey that I either know everything or know nothing significant about the subject under question, for otherwise, I would have been included in the anthology itself. Since no one can know everything, one is usually in the second position. This is not such a bad position when it comes to a book on R.K. Narayan. We are talking about a writer who smiled at academic writing, one who felt that he was an observer of the vicissitudes and the ironies and humour of daily life and ordinary characters, one who felt that he didn’t have anything really significant to say. Perhaps, it is this quality that makes him such a significant writer, one who seems to speak to different generations, and one who, I think, will be read for a very long time. R.K. Narayan is a writer easier to read and recommend than write about with academic seriousness, for that seems to cause serious damage to our reading experience without adding very much to its pleasure.
When Amandeep Rana invited me to the national conference on R.K. Narayan that he organized, I hadn’t realized that it would result in a book, nor that I would meet scholars who felt that they had a real connect with Narayan’s world. The conference was held in a town that Narayan would have recognized, one that was like the quintessential South Indian small town that was his spiritual and literary haunt, and one in which the feudal past lived with the modern present. For Narayan wrote about time and timelessness, about genetic memory and contemporary consciousness. He wrote about how we carried on in our traditional ways of life even as we accommodated the modern, the changes brought about in our material world. This was his world in which the traditional imbued the modern, the Tamil imbued the English. It was a world of continuities and contradictions, a world where humour was always in the air in this very contrariness, a world where characters almost bumbled their way through life. Narayan hold us up to scrutiny, finds us amusing and lets us drop—his novels never really end, it is just that he has been amused enough and, in his estimation, has amused us enough.
People see Malgudi everywhere, all the time. This means, as I said earlier, that Narayan appeals across generations, and across borders. There is of course an us/them, here/there, now/then dichotomy in critical positions. Is he Indian, or quaintly Indian? Is Malgudi in our part of the world or somewhere remote? Can or does Malgudi exist now or is its time over, part of a historical past? Perhaps, it is even more complex than that where some of these distinctions have porous boundaries and there is a lot of seepage and commingling and confusion—almost like the Indian English that Narayan wrote in. Is it Indian or is it English? Is it his first tongue or adopted tongue? Does it show his colonized mind or showcase the journey that educated post-colonials had to make in order to make sense of their worlds? Is he trapped in his caste sensibility or is he liberated from it? (for his novels which seem so clearly located do not show any caste distinctions in society) Is he ironic because he uses English which automatically distances him from his Indian world or is his vision ironic, regardless of the language he uses? A man who seems to be so rooted was a Tamilian in a Kannada speaking region, an English writer in India, one who wrote to be published and read abroad, but was bewildered by the western understanding of India, one who cheerfully allowed an English writer to edit and change everything he wrote, one who hunted for good South Indian coffee and curd rice on all his sojourns abroad. One remembers Walt Whitman, "Do I contradict myself?/ Very well, then I contradict myself,/ I am large, I contain multitudes." R.K. Narayan is large, he contains multitudes. You have to when you are Indian and represent even a corner of India!
This anthology of essays put together by Amandeep Rana reminds us of this. When Rana Nayar asked for "deconstructive, postcolonial, poststructuralist, eco-critical, meta-fictional, inter-textual, new-historicist and Bakhtinian reading of Narayan" in his opening remarks in the conference (the paper is contained in this book), he might not have anticipated that he would be answered immediately. This is a book of essays that looks at Narayan’s works from different perspectives—from the postcolonial to the eco-critical—to the poststructuralist—to the inter-textual. Several of the sixteen essays look at the notions of tradition, spirituality and philosophy; two look at education and one looks at the portrayal of children. This is a buffet where you may want to taste everything fully, even though there are so many different dishes.. What more can an anthology hope to serve? Amandeep Rana set out to give us new perspectives on R.K. Narayan and I must say that the book reflects his purpose fully. Critics will always engage with Narayan’s works, not only from every new perspective that comes along, but also from the same old perspectives since Narayan will speak differently to every new generation, whatever be their perspective(s).
I am glad that I agreed to write the foreword to this volume, since I got to read the essays and see the wide range of perspectives that obtain now in the reading of R.K. Narayan’s works. This is a book that rewards the reader and I know that it will be an important contribution to the criticism on R.K. Narayan, and to our understanding of and approaches to Indian English literature.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Item Code: NAS224 Author: Amandeep Rana Cover: HARDCOVER Edition: 2013 Publisher: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors Pvt. Ltd. ISBN: 9788126918072 Language: English Size: 8.50 X 5.50 inch Pages: 224 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.38 Kg