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R.K. Narayan's Malgudi novels : a critical study of theme and character.

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This thesis analyses critically theme and character in the fourteen novels of R.K. Narayan, written between 1935 and 1990, and it assesses their importance in Narayan's Indian world view. It evaluates Narayan's depiction of Indian middle class society in the comic-ironic mode. His skills as a narrator who experiments with various narrative techniques are examined. The thesis traces the development of Narayan's fictional town, Malgudi, and illustrates how it reflects changes on the Indian sub-continent and how they impact on the Malgudi character. The themes of parental love, the conflict between orthodoxy and modernity, academic disillusionment, harmony in family relationships and Hindu astrology are examined in Swami and Friends (1935) and The Bachelor of Arts (1946). Narayan's portrayal of orthodox and modern concepts of marriage is appraised in The Dark Room (1938), The English Teacher (1946) and The Painter of Signs (1976). This thesis examines the deterioration of marital harmony and Savitri' s portrayal as the typical Hindu housewife cast in the Pativrata tradition in The Dark Room. In The English Teacher this thesis evaluates Krishnan and Susila's idyllic marriage and the couple's psychic communication when Susila dies. Raman and Daisy's proposed Gandharva marriaqe is reviewed in The Painter of Signs. This study assesses Narayan's treatment of the themes of religious faith, Hinduism and Gandhian ideology in Waiting for the Mahatma (1955), The Guide (1958) and The Vendor of Sweets (1967). Raju' s transformation from a jailbird to a swami is evaluated in The Guide. The dedication of Gandhists such as Bharati and Sriram in Waiting for the Mahatma, is reviewed. In A Tiger for Malgudi, Narayan's innovative talking tiger, Raja, is examined as well as his treatment of the concepts of reincarnation and the transmigration of souls. The deleterious effects of materialism are highlighted in The Financial Expert in which Margayya is obsessed with accruing large sums of money. Srini vas and Sampath' s desire to achieve fame and fortune is explored in the filming of the Burning of Kama in Mr Sampath. This thesis ends with an exploration of the conflict between orthodoxy and modern lifestyles, and the cyclical nature of life in The World of Nagaraj (1990).


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of Durban-Westville, 1995.


Narayan, R.K., 1906-2001--Criticism and interpretation., Theses--English.