RK Narayan : Malgudi Days


You become writer by writing. It is a yoga.

r-k-narayanRK Narayan (10 October 1906 – 13 May 2001) was one of the most famous and widely read Indian novelists. His stories were grounded in a compassionate humanism and celebrated the humour and energy of ordinary life. Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami, was best known for his works set in the fictional South Indian town of Malgudi.

His father was a school headmaster, and Narayan did some of his studies at his father’s school. As his father’s job entailed frequent transfers, Narayan spent part of his childhood under the care of his maternal grandmother, Parvati. During this time his best friends and playmates were a peacock and a mischievous monkey.
His grandmother gave him the nickname of Kunjappa, a name that stuck to him in family circles. She taught him arithmetic, mythology, classical Indian music and Sanskrit. According to his youngest brother R. K. Laxman, the family mostly conversed in English, and grammatical errors on the part of Narayan and his siblings were frowned upon. While living with his grandmother, Narayan studied at a succession of schools in Madras, including the Lutheran Mission School in Purasawalkam, C.R.C. High School, and the Christian College High School. Narayan was an avid reader, and his early literary diet included Dickens, Wodehouse, Arthur Conan Doyle and Thomas Hardy. When he was twelve years old, Narayan participated in a pro-independence march, for which he was reprimanded by his uncle; the family was apolitical and considered all governments wicked

R K Narayan moved to Mysore to live with his family when his father was transferred to the Maharajah’s College High School. The well-stocked library at the school, as well as his father’s own, fed his reading habit, and he started writing as well. After completing high school, Narayan failed the university entrance examination and spent a year at home reading and writing; he subsequently passed the examination in 1926 and joined Maharaja College of Mysore. It took Narayan four years to obtain his bachelor’s degree, a year longer than usual. After being persuaded by a friend that taking a master’s degree (M.A.) would kill his interest in literature, he briefly held a job as a school teacher; however, he quit in protest when the headmaster of the school asked him to substitute for the physical training master. The experience made Narayan realise that the only career for him was in writing, and he decided to stay at home and write novels. He is one of three leading figures of early Indian literature in English (alongside Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao), and is credited with bringing the genre to the rest of the world.

R.K. Narayan’s famous works include The Bachelor of Arts (1937), The Dark Room (1938), The English Teacher (1945), The Financial Expert (1952), The Guide (1958), The Man-Eater of Malgudi (1961), The Vendor of Sweets (1967), Malgudi Days (1982), and The Grandmother’s Tale (1993). R.K. Narayan won numerous awards and honors for his works. These include: Sahitya Akademi Award for The Guide in 1958; Padma Bhushan in 1964; and AC Benson Medal by the Royal Society of Literature in 1980; R.K. Narayan was elected an honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1982. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1989. Besides, he was also conferred honorary doctorates by the University of Mysore, Delhi University and the University of Leeds.

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