AD's English Literature : Raja Rao’s Contribution to Fiction: Critical Assessment

Raja Rao’s Contribution to Fiction: Critical Assessment


It is significant coincidence that Mulk Raj Anand, R.K. Narayan, and Raja Rao, the three major writers of the Indian novel in English, belonged to the thirties of the twentieth century. Their prolific literary output defined the Gandhian dream of India. Their bland of political ideology and social realism ensured that the English prose fiction would be the medium for the definition of a new Indian and aspiration. We will now carry a few sketches of Raja Rao’s life and literary outputs.

Raja Rao belongs to an ancient Brahmin family of Mysore. He receives his early education from Muslin from Aligarh Muslim University Raja Rao has been familiar with variety of languages Kannada, Telugu, Urdu, English and even French etc. His wide learning and the discovery of the mantra of true in the classical literature of ancient India lead him as a creative artist.


 Raja Rao imitates his writing carver in knead, but the work that makes people take note of his is his first novel in English Kanthapura  (1938),which is about the Gandhi an Satyagraha movement in a south India village. The author introduces parallels to characters and events drawn from Ramayana. Mahatma Gandhi’s story is projected as a sthala-purana i.e., the mythic tale of a particular place. The three levels of action political, social and religious-present a unified concept of panda. The action belongs to the decade of the 1930’s when the Indian National congress committee spread the Gandhian message of Satyagraha and Ahimsa through the length and breadth of India. The villagers of Kanthapura also follow these principles. They take out protest marches towards the coffee Estate and suffer harsh treatment at the hands of the police. The leader, Mouthy, launches the Civil Disobedience Movement against the British. Gandhi deeps not figure as a character in the novel, but the various aspect of his philosophy and teachings are projected as the story unfolds. He is compared to the gods, save and Krishna, for destroying the demon of foreign rule.


His Serpent and The Rope appears in 1960 which is an exploration of supernatural encounter. Here is his examination of the East-West dilemma characterized by a deep souse of crisis in human relationships. The book electives critical applauses and won for Rao the sanity Academy Award. The cat and Shakespeare: A Tale of Modern India is a short novel of great merit with some philosophical content and has evoked conflicting reactions from literary critics.

Raja Rao’s next novel, Comrade Carillon explores the depths of the mind and soul of an orthodox Brahmin communist who is a confused bundle of contradictions. The reading public however, does not show much enthusiasm for this book. The chess master and His Moves is his most ambitions work of fiction which re-occurs the theme of multicultural confrontation.

Apart from his novels, he is also compiler of short stories. The cow of the Barricades and other stories is the collection of some of his translated Kannada stories and others written in English. On The Gang of Ghats is a collection of connected stories that presents vivid glimpses of the permanent reality of India life. He has also a few of the articles published in various journals, both English and Kannada.

Raja Rao has in his writing the traditional Indian precept. At the back of his writing are a mind and vision of life that are concrete yet elusive. All his heroes are in one way or another involved with the problem of knowing God and there by realizing themselves. To fully understand what Raja Rao says in his novels and short stories require some knowledge of the philosophy and metaphysics of Hinduism. In matter of experimenting literary expression, he has successfully conveyed the Indian way of life through the medium of English. While Anand renders the Punjabi expressions in English, Narayan touches the lyrical grace through simplicity; Raja Rota goes a staff further in mingling the grace and tone of the speech rhythms of his mother tongue, Kannada, with that of English, the foreign medium of his novels and short stories.

 Artistically, Raja is important because of his unique formal and thematic accomplishments in Indian English. Al though his five novels seem modest in comparison to others, Raja’s achievement is probably more impressive for it’s seasoned of truth, of self and of art.


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An English Teacher;    M. A.(English) , D. Ed., B. Ed., UGC- NET Qualified

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