Art of Narration in Mulk Raj Anand Novels

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      Mulk Raj Anand is an excellent story-teller and he can narrate a tale with a spell of magic. His novels are full of interest and one can’t resist the temptation to finish them. The narration is marked with humour which culminates in convulsive laughter. Coolie cites the best examples of humour. The heart-rending scenes of pathos is equally important. In Untouchable, the humiliation of Bakha and his sister’s agony; in Coolie, Munoo’s exploitation and his premature death can move even the most apathetic person. Readers go through the page after page without any experience of monotony and boredom, forgetful of time and due business schedule and routine works. Once the reader indulge in the literary profundity of Anand he ignores his preaching and sermonising which are supposed to mar the literary elegance of his works.

      Most of his works are marked for engrossing narrative with beginning and conclusion which follow strict literary discipline. He commonly tells us fascinating stories. We can notice the elements of contrast and balance and suspense and surprise. His visual graphic presentation in Untouchable presents a sequence of situation as if the writer projects a movie on a celluloid screen. Anand’s art of narration has made the theme and message of humanitarian concern a physical reality Similarly one can hear the ticks of the clock in The Big Heart. Synchronisation of action and time are marvellous. Anand’s art of narration consummated in Lal Singh trilogy and The Old Woman and the Cow. The equilibrium is maintained between the theme and great varieties of moods and tone because extremism in any technical aspect can vitiate the elegance and decency of his stories. Where the space is limited, short stories contain more varied experimentation. As a result there is no overstatement and moralising.

      Anand is a 19th century story teller, set in tradition. He narrates chronologically. Stories develop forward with mutual intercourse between one character and another character and between character and environment. It is the “Stream of Consciousness” technique which modifies Anand’s narrative. Anand has explained his own reasons for this great change. He has explained that when he began to write novels about India, though he took, Joyce’s, “Stream of Consciousness” as his method, he had to apply it to a different situation, revealed to him by his upbringing in a province of the British Empire. In his own country where the position of man had not emerged beyond the speck in the dust of Maya, to the potential humanness of the individual which democracy invited against the long suppression of feudalism, orthodoxy and institutionalised religion, he felt that the novel should not press the “inner monologue” beyond a certain point, so that humanness may remain a variable factor in the situation. That’s why he felt around for synthesis of techniques the East and the inner consciousness, hoping that Man, forsaken by the gods, by other men and women, broken, decimated by the Machine. Money-War civilisation, could be seen at least in profile, in the enchanted mirror, in order to illumine his awareness against materiality “dead matterliness” and suppression by society and shown in his confrontation with fate.

      Anand has modified the modern ‘stream of consciousness’ technique to transcend it from mere phantasmagoria or subjective withdrawal from outer social reality to an effective narrative technique. He has substantialised his objective to project the under-dog of society as an oppressed and exploited community Anand is not merely interested in filth and dirts and squalor or physical disposition of Sohini rather he is interested to give an insight into the life of the most oppressed class of society and his narrative style has helped him bring the anguish and agony of the under-dog to mass consideration. His narrative technique gives a touch of dynamism to his stories. Otherwise, stories stagnate. In Coolie poor Munoo travels the sub-continent from the North to the South through varied circumstances, make it an epic of misery The Stream of Consciousness narrative technique is adequate for Anand’s mission.

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