Mulk Raj Anand : A Novelist par Excellence

Binod Mishra
Deptt of HSS, IIT
Life & Achievements
Born in 1905 at Peshawar
Graduated in 1924 from
Khalsa College
Left India in 1925 for
Awarded PhD in 1929 on
the philosophy of
Berkeley, Hume and
Influences & Acquaintances
• Tagore, Gandhi, Iqbal, Gorky, Tennyson
• D.H.Lawrence, Middleton Murry, Herbert
Read, Aldous Huxley, T.S.Eliot
• Meets Gandhi in 1932
• Returns to India in 1945
• Marries Kathleen and seeks divorce to
marry Anil De Silva
• Awarded Sahitya Academy Award in
General belief about Anand
• A period novelist
• A writer of socio-political fiction
• social reformer/historian
A full reading of Anand reflects :
• Cosmic view
• Kaleidoscopic in nature
• Human touch
Range of his Novels
Anand, it seems to me, is nothing less
than a novelist of the human condition,
a novelist whose province is human
nature. The appeal of his novels is
passionate; this significance is multiple
and hopefully timeless rather than
topical and temporal.
-K.N.Sinha in Preface to Mulk Raj Anand
Anand in an Interview to P.K. Rajan
I have been evolving a philosophy of the
human person which is miscellaneous. It
is not doctrinaire thought. It is a number
of insights, possibly arising from my
experience. I think we are part of a much
bigger universe , so we are part of the
whole world.
A Crusader
At home
 Abroad
 Advocated General strike in London
 Irked at Eliot’s opinion about Gandhi
 Sympathized with national struggle in Ireland.
 Sympathized with Spanish Civil War
 A broadcaster and script writer in the Film
division of BBC.
 Founded AIPWA
Anand’s faith as a writer
Art not for art’s sake
Literature means to modify society
All art is mere propaganda
I wish to be judged a a writer ,who has
tried to tell the truth of life. And some
compassion. I am not subject to western
categories. The question is how far do my
novels recreate life.
(Anand, In a letter to Neena Arora)
Anand’s views on
Life and Literature
Writing novels for the sake of writing novels was
never my intention. I felt compelled to answer
challenges and tried to get out of my own confusion.
I do not believe in institutionalized religion. And like
Tolstoy, I would like to leave the beliefs of people to
their own conscience, collaborating with them for
certain secular ends, without objecting to their pet
Anand’s reaction to his Communist
I believe Marx supplies a good yardstick for history
and his basic proposition “Means of production
determine consciousness” is correct . Except that
Marx naturally simplified his thesis. He could not
explain the irrational, instinctive and intuitive actions
of man. There are many areas like aesthetic activity
he left out. I am not a member of any political party. I
reject nothing that is human. I agree with
Coomaraswamy when he said : “ civilization must
henceforth be human rather than local or national, or
else it cannot exist.”
( Letter to G.S. Balram Gupta,4 Aug, 1968.)
Anand’s First Trilogy:
Paradigms of Protest
Untouchable (1935)
Coolie (1936)
Two Leaves & A Bud (1937)
Caste theme
Exploitation of labour
Disgrace of dignity
Identity crisis
Protest against man, God and civilization
If you leave man to the mercy of god, first dig some
Second Trilogy: Volcanic Eruption
• The Village(1939)
• Across The Black Waters(1941)
• The Sword & The Sickle(1955)
Assertive and articulate
Philosophical thrust
Self realization and self actualization
Awareness of a split in consciousness
Spontaneous urge of anew generation
Running between past, present and future
Wisdom of the Heart
The Private Life of an Indian Prince(1953)
The Old Woman or The Cow(1960)
Death of a Hero(1964)
Freudian dimension
Moment of liberation
Martyrdom in a communal frenzy
Autobiographical novels:
Seven Summers(1951)
Morning Face(1968)
Confessions of a Lover( 1976)
The Bubble(1984)
All threads of emotional and spiritual life
Background of collective unconsciousness
Philosophy of the human person that is miscellaneous
Protagonist’s evolution to higher consciousness
Views On Life And Death
• One man can die but life cannot be
extinguished in the world altogether until the
very sun goes bold and the elements break up.
( The Big Heart)
• Love everyone and everything. Then through
our good deeds shall we rise from our low
caste and be warm into a higher caste.
(The Road)
I am anti-Christ. I want the romantic night even if it
brings sorrow and melancholy. I shall have to live
through the inner chaos.
There is something of water in a woman. Flowing,
flowing always in one direction or the another,
restless like the waves, sometimes overwhelmingly
moody, fickle and capricious as a river in storm,
sometimes bright and smiling, sometimes soft and
sad but always tender and kind.
Anand on Art
• All art is propaganda. The art of Ajanta is
propaganda. The art of Ajanta is propaganda for
Buddhism. the art of Ellora is propaganda for
Hinduism. The art of western novel is propaganda for
humanity against bourgeois. Gorky as a humanist
dared to speak of man, man’s condition, not only to
say how awful it is but he also suggested what man
could be. And thus he did propaganda for man.
M.R Anand, Soviet Review, Vol V No.21,1968,P-92
Men can contend with the disruptive forces
and conquer them. If there is discord in life, it
is only a stage and not a terminus.
Man has in him not only the noises of the earth
but also the silence of the seas and the music
of the year.
Life is not only the rhythmic flow of nerves
but also the renewal of vibrations within.

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