Critics Remark on Mulk Raj Anand's Novels

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SELECTED LITERARY CRITICISM

(1) William Walsh: Greatest Novels

      Mulk Raj Anand’s first five novels including some of his best work Coolie, Untouchable, Two Leaves and a Bud, The Village, and Across the Black Waters, appeared between 1933 and 1940, although he had already written a considerable amount before this, including a study of Persian paintings and a book on curries. He is passionately concerned with the villages, with the ferocious poverty and the cruelties of caste, with orphans, untouchables, and urban laborers. He writes in an angry reformist way like a less humorous Dickens and a more emotional Wells, of the personal sufferings induced by economics—really economics, one feels, even when he is writing of caste. His sharpest, best-organized novel is Untouchable, which was very highly thought of by E. M. Forster. It is an interesting combination of hard material, narrow-specific theme, and throbbing Shelleyan manner. The action, occupying a single day is precipitated by a great “catastrophe”, an accidental “touching” in the morning. Everything that follows is affected by it, even the innocent and vividly realised hockey match. Of the three solutions hinted at to the problem of the untouchable—Christ. Gandhi, and Main Drainage—it is the last which is most favored by Anand. He is a committed artist, and what he is committed to is indicated by Bashir’s mockery in Untouchable: “Greater efficiency; better salesmanship, more mass production, standardisation, dictatorship of the sweepers, Marxian materialism, and all that.” “Yes, yes,” is the reply, “all that, but no catch-words and cheap phrases, the change will be organic and not mechanical.”

      Mulk Raj Anand’s semi-Marxist categories, his furious, and one must say well-grounded, indignation, and his habit of undue implicitness, together with a deficiency in self-criticism make him a writer whose work has to be severely sieved. Like many writers impelled by social motives, however worthy whose attitude to life is too patently dominated by theory he has a habit of preaching at the reader. But when his imagination burns, and the dross of propaganda is consumed, as in Untouchable, Coolie, and The Big Heart (1945), there is no doubt that he is a novelist of considerable power.

      Even politics, that is, even politics as cerebral and doctrinal as this, can be humanised by the ingathering and melting capacity of the Indian mind. It is a quality working right through Coolie where Anand shows himself one of the first Indian writers to look on the savagely neglected, despised and maltreated power with an angry lack of resignation. The novel combines an acrid indignation at the condition of the poor together with a Dickensian vivacity in physical registration and a delicate sense of the psychology of Munoo, the waif-hero, in particular of the rhythms of his growth from boy of adolescent. Munoo’s victim-role in what Anand shows to be a markedly static and hierarchical society just as the immense tracts, from Simla to Bombay covered in the boy’s forced journeys convey in a way new in Indian fiction the continental vastness and variety of India.

(2) Dieter Reimenschneider: The Theme of Labour in “The Road”

      The theme of solidarity and self-realization through labour— though hinted at already in Coolie—is taken up once more in The Road and is developed here in a more convincing manner. Untouchability has been abolished by law after India has become independent. Bakha, a young outcaste boy is thus given better chances than Bakha to overcome the exploitation by the higher castes. Besides, the government tries to improve the lot of the outcastes by offering them work in government schemes: they can help break the stones needed for the construction of a road which will connect their village with the city of Delhi. This itself is to be understood as a symbolic act opening the Indian village to the world and asking caste and outcaste inhabitants of the village to share in the work alike. Bikhu realizes that because of the opposition of caste-Hindus their work might not be finished and the chance of starting construction of the road may be foiled. However, the outcaste women offer their help which is gladly accepted by the supervisor and the men and now all hope to finish their work in time.

      Labour as described here is given the function of—literally and symbolically—liberating man from his bondage, from being forced of those who accept the offer, the work processed itself is a realization of man because through it he will produce something which will be useful to him—labour, indeed, has won back its essential function of being useful activity in the sense Marx defined it. But labour here also means realization of man as member of the species: all alienated relationships can be overcome, those between different social groups as well as those between the generations or the sexes. The strength of solidarity created is even noticed by caste-Hindus. In Bikhu this feeling of victory is made manifest when he is described as having become one with his work and the lives of the others. Neither the prejudices of his mother nor, in the end, those of a Hindu boy of his age can take away this experience of self-fulfillment. It is in this short novel that Anand, more than in any Other work, had found a more profound insight into possible “solutions” of overcoming alienation. That this does not mean that he is an idealistic dreamer becomes obvious when we look at the conclusion of The Road: Bikhu is depressed that the prejudices of caste-Hindus still exist and will continue to make human beings like him suffer. What is important, however; is the fact that Anand here does not sacrifice a philosophically tenable “solution” for a naturalistic depiction of his story as he did in Coolie. On the other hand his dream has the power of potential realization. Though the novel as such may not be considered artistically successful by most critics we must admit that Anand, philosophically speaking, has achieved more in those passages depicting man at work than in many others which are integral part of more successful literary works.

(3) R. Shepherd: Struggle Against Social Injustice

      Lal Singh and Maqbool are “revolutionaries” where the concept of “revolution” follows from this concept of heroism. The consistent theme from Untouchable to Private Life is the individual’s struggle against social injustice. Anand urges that in modern-day India dharma with its caste associations and karma with its dependence on divine sanction must be replaced by a philosophy of bhakti-yoga and an equitable system of jurisprudence, a combination, of the best from Indian and Western traditions. Hence Anand’s concept of revolution is not “progressive” in the popular sense, but stems rather from a consideration of India’s present and future needs viewed in relation to her historical and cultural background. Revolution must look forward, but also backward to those cultural roots which are in danger of being forgotten from the accretion of layers of deadening custom. In his essay on Indian theatre, Anand expresses the view that cultural revitalization depends on a re-examination of cultural beginnings and that it is necessary to “begin almost at the beginning and come full circle if we are to build up an indigenous tradition rooted in the soil and in the consciousness of our people.” The fact that Anand’s mature heroes are constantly thoughtful of their indebtedness to the past, is a reflection of this struggle to establish new and necessary connections between past, present and future as a corrective to alienation.

(4) R. Shepherd: Anands Heroes

      Anand’s fully realized heroes are made up of positive and negative qualities compounded in almost equal proportions. These negative qualities (e.g. vacillation, feelings of guilt, inadequacy and despair, questions of identity) stemming from past and present experiences cannot be considered aberrations or flaws in Anand’s characterization; taken together with the positive qualities they go to constitute an amplitude of character, illustrating human nature in all its contradictoriness. The ideal, though qualified by the real, nevertheless remains the ideal. Here is the apparent paradox: the hero will come closest to success at the moment he realises that he cannot succeed; that is; when, he sees the real and the ideal in a probable relation. For he will have to acknowledge his limitations before he can hope to make even a marginal improvement. Anand believes in the value of unrelenting struggle despite all obstacles, real or imaginary; there are really no other alternatives. It is the untriumphant hero whom he celebrates in his novel: Kanwar Rampal Singh, Lal Singh, An anta, Maqbool, men whose good intentions are exceeded only by their personal limitations in a struggle based on the ideal of right:

It must be remembered that the literature of each age becomes significant through the confrontation of the hero with the opposing death forces and by showing through his struggle, even if he fails, the possibilities of a nobler; bolder and near superhuman destiny— the affirmation of life itself against death in all forms.

(5) Gillian Packham: Anand and the West

      Anand had been welcomed into this setting by writers who were especially conscious of their role in a world-wide movement. John Lehmann recalls:

      It was not without significance that contributors to New Writing from China and India fitted so easily into the pattern; that a writer like Mulk Raj Anand, for instance, author of the Coolie and other novels, should take as his world not the feudal splendours and feudal mysticism of traditional Indian literature, but the hard and suffering lives of the millions of his country’s poor.

      Anand fitted so easily into this setting because, even more than the European writers, he was aware of the need for a literature of protest, for all the wrongs suffered by poor and subject people. Like the European writers he was motivated by political events: not by the necessity to resist the rise of Fascism in Europe, but by the necessity to resist the existence of imperialism in India. Like the Europeans he had two immediate motives: to defend his lower class countrymen and to defend his own freedom of expression as a writer. Anand, although he admired much the modem Western intellectual tradition, was always wary of European culture. He claims he never fell prey to Western materialism, “I had imbibed enough Gandhian teaching to suspect all the fleshy consumer goods, demand-oriented aims of people in England.” When he arrived in England he was taken up at first with the English debate “between the general school of Idealism and Realism”, rejecting idealism as he had done earlier in India. He dismissed Christianity on account of its unscientific creation myth and its pessimistic view of man being born in sin, although Christ’s ideal of unselfish service appealed to him and reminded him of the Sikh ideal of Bhakti. He had rejected Hinduism because of its reliance on the caste system, its blind faith and its mysticism (which seemed an unreliable way of proving God when so few people have succeeded in attaining the mystical state). The British general strike of 1926 showed him that he was wrong in considering democracy the answer to social inequality among men; for did not social inequality exist in Britain, the mother of democracy? He compared the oppressed position of the English worker with the oppressed position of India and found democracy lacking.

(6) H. M. Williams: Social Protest in “Two Leaves and a Bud”

      In Two Leaves and a Bud (1937) Anand attempts (presumably under the literary influences of D. H. Lawrence and E. M. Forster) another novel of social protest which also explores human motives from a more ironical and complex point of view. The scene is a British-owned tea-plantation in Assam whither the coolie Gangu (an older version of Munoo) is lured by specious promises. The novel is largely a record—and here, clearly the pattern of Untouchable and Coolie is followed—of Gangu’s exploitation, culminating in a worker’s rebellion and Gangu’s murder by a half-lunatic English overseer. Anand’s thesis is again: the Indian poor, Ruined and destroyed by the combined tyranny of capitalism and imperialism. The realistic portrayal of the grim life of the plantation coolies is the best part of the novel, although the writing is over-coloured and there are too many reminiscences of Uncle Tom's Cabin in the simplistic narrative of good old Indian workers versus wicked English employers. Anand is more attractive to modern taste in his poignant portrayal of Gangu’s poverty and the pathos of his love of his daughter Leila, longing for the pretty trinkets she will never be able to buy The coolies are bullied and exploited by Indian storekeepers and overseers, and despised and ill-treated by the British who either wall themselves up in the British Club fearful of racial contamination, or roam about looking for an opportunity to debauch the wives and daughters of the Indian workers.

      But Anand is more ambitious and less successful in attempting a bitterly satirical picture of the British in Assam in scenes and characters that remind the reader too often of E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India. The bad or simply indifferent British represented by Croft-Cooke, the manager, and Reggie Hunt, a sadistic and alcoholic womaniser, are opposed by the left-wing humanist, Dr. De La Havre and his mistress, Barbara (whose seduction is detailed in over-rich Lawrentian prose). Modelled on the character of Fielding in A Passage to India, De La Havre condemns the exploitation of India by British imperialists and capitalists and reviles sarcastically the racialism of the British club-life embodied particularly in the isolationism imposed on the men by the British memsahibs. Anand makes De La Havre into a parlour communist endowed somewhat unconvincingly with the sexual powers of the gamekeeper in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and misses the irony and subtlety of his master; E. M. Forster.

(7) S.C. Harrex: Narrative Devices in Untouchable

      Anand evolves a narrative pattern which combines the moral fable form and the principle of “interplay indeed interpenetration, of situation and character” which Anand saw as the “significant feature of the Western short story”. Present in Bakha's character is the pathetic incongruity of natural vitality sapped by conditioned docility Then in the epiphany-like main “touching” scene we see the interplay of character and incident producing the germ of a new consciousness in Bakha, beginning with a realization of his social identity. The birth of this consciousness conforms to Gandhi’s psychological approach to the problem of untouchability whereby the outcaste is encouraged to develop self-esteem in place of self-abasement. From this point on, the narrative development—involving as it does Bakha’s increasing enlightenment regarding work, social discrimination, poverty and the doctrine of pollution—fulfils the requirement of the moral fable, the evil of the social system has been exposed and the novel concludes with a “desire image” suggesting how the evil should be eradicated. Bakha experiences the “shock” of self-recognition: “It illuminated the inner chambers of his mind.....A shock.....had passed through his perceptions, previously numb and torpid.” After this experience Bakha developed into something of a fabled figure and is endowed with an elementary visionary quality He has the ability to contrast the familiar with the unknown and this is described in terms of “the impulse which tries to create a new harmony”:

He had grown out of his native shoes into the ammunition boots he had secured as a gift. And with this and other strange and exotic items of dress, he had built up a new world, which was commendable, if for nothing else, because it represented a change from the old ossified order.....He was a pioneer in his own way...

      Having thus far counterpointed the antithetical elements (“ossified order” “impulse....to create a new harmony”) in the dialectical narrative strucutre, Anand employs two devices to bring Bakha to the brink of a personal and social Hegelian synthesis. The first device is the “desire image”. As Anand has pointed out, the ending of Untouchable, is conceived as a “prophecy” “suggesting a choice of possibilities” (Christ, Gandhi, Marx, the Machine) because of his belief that the writer who does not have a romantic as well as realistic point of view will not see the whole of life and will be in danger of affirming only “the negation of life”:

The novel of revolutionary romanticism.... seeks the desire image, that is to say to suggest what the writer would like life to be like, by implication, as against what it is. (“The Story of My Experiment with a White Lie”).

(8) H. C. Harrex: Formal Aspect of “Untouchable”

      In writing Untouchable Anand engaged in “the intolerable wrestle” with amorphousness, presumably in the belief that, whereas the fluid form was appropriate in novels of purely subjective experience, when an objective interpretation of reality was to be attempted a formal balance of private and impersonal elements was necessary The result was that in Untouchable, and later in The Big Heart, Anand reverted to a classical model: a prose-fiction structure shaped by the use of the “three unities” technique. In this facing the literary technical problem Anand was simultaneously confronting the caste problem, the central subject in Untouchable. That is to say he had an intuitive sense that the novel medium was amorphous in the same sense, correlatively speaking, that pre-Marxist society was as a climax suggesting a potential structure to be adopted by society Anand tackled the formal and ideological problems simultaneously and as one.

      A further correlation in Untouchable between the formal discipline and the social theme, in the context of relating fact to fiction in accordance with the theory of commitment, derives from Anand’s reliance on autobiographical, experience and his effort to incorporate in the narrative data from the social environment. In “The Story of My Experiment with a White Lie”, Anand informs us that Bakha is modelled, on a boy he knew and that the novel’s compassionate viewpoint arose in part of an incident when the untouchable

carried me home when I had been hit by a stone.....without caring about what my mother would say about his having polluted me by his touch.....I developed a guilt about him which compelled appeasement.

      The episode is dramatically utilised in Untouchable and reappears in Seven Summers. Anand also reveals in the same article that, in order to acquire the right perspective on untouchability he went to Gandhi’s Ashram to learn first-hand the Mahatma’s “Harijan” philosophy of reform. The Mahatma apparently advised him to put himself in the untouchable’s place.

(9) William Walsh: Nineteenth-century Tradition

      Mulk Raj Anand belongs to the tradition of the nineteenth-century writers—not necessarily just the British tradition, for one is aware of a distinctly European set of influences operating on him, particularly French and Russian influences—in his approach to the novel, in his techniques, his weaving together of theme and event, in his sensibility and in his hope for what the novel may publicly achieve. He is particularly of this tradition in point of his fluency Creation appears to be no agonising struggle for him, communication something he engages in with an unstrained and vivid enthusiasm, and the facility of a Russian writer. He is nineteenth century, too, in his conception of the novel, seeing it as an organization strongly based on a double foundation of character and circumstance: character, I repeat, which has to be clearly defined and then developed, largely through the causality of the other constitutive force, social circumstances and influences, usually of a harshly oppressive soft. He has, too, a natural disposition towards the picaresque. The trilogy The Village (1939), Across the Black Waters (1940) and The Sword and the Sickle (1942), takes the peasant boy Lal Singh, from his North Indian village and a life stifled by suffocating layers of custom and religion, into the ferocity of the 1914-18 war and the crass commercialism of Europe, and then back again to India to a new political stance towards life.

(10) William Walsh: Comparison with R. K. Narayan

      As a writer Mulk Raj Anand lacks the concrete sagacity the finesse, the “appetite for the illustrational”—to use Henry James’s phrase—which marks everything that R. K. Narayan writes; nor does he have that sense of the metaphysical nature of man we find in 'the other distinguished novelist, Raja Rao. But he has a stricking and genuine feeling for the deprived, a grasp of the social structure of his society and an extraordinary fluency of communication. This fluency of communicating has something Russian in it, and Russian too (but in an infinitely more attractive sense than the earlier Marxist-dominated way) are two later works, Morning Face (1961) and Private Life of an Indian Prince (revised, 1970). These two books which are, it appears from Saros Cowasjee’s introduction, highly autobiographical, summon up the great name of Dostoevsky in their pouring out of an intensely realised personal grief. They show in addition how the mind which created Coolie came to be formed, how the boy Krishna once folded lovingly into the family becomes coldly detached and alone. The rhythm of this desperate progress is defined with an usual purity and precision, and so with the same mastery is the collapse of the prince’s mind in Private Life of an Indian Prince. In both these works, free as they are from undue political scaffolding, there is an extraordinary combination of psychological perception and human agony

(11) William Walsh: Strong and Weak Points

      The defect which constricts his real creative capacity is the habit of allowing his moral and social purposes to become separate from the particular actuality of the fiction, so that they frequently lead a collateral rather than a unified existence. This is accompanied by a certain passivity on the part of the characters, apt no doubt when they are the victims of circumstances which they doubt when they are the victims of circumstances which they so frequently are, but out of place in those parts of his work where the individual should be more energetically active in the working out of his own nature. The theme of The Big Heart, this very Dickensian novel, is stated in a single sentence:

In the centre of Amritsar is Kucha Billimaran, a colony of traditional coppersmiths called thathiars, now uprooted and on the brink of starvation due to the advent of the factory and the consequent loss of their traditional occupation.

The contrast of the two worlds is vividly delineated and the theme is a splendid vehicle of Anand’s largeness and generosity It is less impressive in the characterisation of the hero, Ananta, who suffers again from a certain limpness in action.

      He feels the attractions of the two kinds of life. He is fulfilled in the craft of smoothing the intractable metal, but he is also anguished by the poverty of the half-starved coppersmiths. He combines in his reactions something of the feeling of William Morris and of an angry Trade Union leader. Moreover there is as much moral prejudice against him from the poor whom the boy is trying to help because he is living with a widow, as political opposition from the tyrannical capitalists. In a sense Ananta manifests the kind of inward friction which frays Anand himself as an artist, and which he has managed to assuage only in a handful of his books.

(12) R. Shepherd: Complexity of Characterization

      All of Anand’s heroes are typically youthful, energetic, sensitive and (to varying degrees) idealistic people possessing an awareness (again to varying degrees) of the follies, injustices, as well as the hypocrisies rampant in a traditional-and caste-bound society Bakha and Munoo engage our sympathies because they are hapless victims; their personal appeal is the result of an irrepressible vigour and spontaneity despite appalling circumstances; and their alination is primarily the result of social ostracism. But in some of the later and more complex heroes this vigour and spontaneity is qualified by a quite different strain. In its most superficial manifestation this is a strain of pessimism or of gloomy foreboding. One can trace the flow of this particular tide starting with the death of Munoo, reiterated in the defeatist ending of Two Leaves and a Bud, and becoming still more obvious in the darkening moods of Lament on the Death of a Master of Arts, Private Life and Death of a Hero, Characters like De la Havre, Nur, Lal Singh and Maqbool constitute a more complex hero-type, a type who combines the vigour of Bakha and Munoo with a certain diffidence. Here we find a different side to the boyish, innocent hero: a paralysing moodiness, a fear of loneliness, a sense of guilt, and a superstitious disposition — all of which tendencies inhibit opportunities for clear thought and direct purposeful action.

      It is strange that this greater complexity of characterization underlying the changing moods of Anand’s work has been seen as an aberration or inconsistency William Walsh, for instance, has noted a certain passivity on the part of the characters, apt no doubt when they are the victims of circumstances, which they so frequently are, but out of place in those parts of his work where the individual should be more energetically active in the working out of his own nature.

      And C. D. Narasimaiah, speaking of Munoo’s death, observes a tendency in Anand “perpetuating the fatalism of the past against which he has clearly set himself in novel after novel.” I wonder whether there might not exist some danger for the critic of extrapolating from Anand’s essays a prescriptive formula for his novels, or at least a too rigid set of expectations. Or perhaps the thematic clarity and decisiveness of the early novels is misleading when one approaches the more complex later works. At any rate the reader of The Sword and the Sickle, Death of a Hero and Private Life must be prepared for a degree of complexity of subtlety and nuance, and of comprehensiveness which goes far beyond any narrow prescription.

(13) H. M. Williams: Anand's Rejection of Romantic Conceptions

      His first three novels: Untouchable (1935), Coolie (1936) and Two Leaves and a Bud (1937) form a natural trio; all three have the victim-hero of the oppressed and doomed outcaste-proletarian whose fate is symbolic of India enslaved by Imperial Britain and of the workers enslaved by the capitalist system. In these novels India is portrayed as she ‘really’ is, ‘warts and all’ with no concessions to the romantic orientalism which had been fashionable in an earlier period. Anand seems determined to smash the image of ‘romantic India’ and replace it with one of his own in which India is seen partially at least in Marxian terms as a cockpit of the class struggle, and a sordid one at that; In Untouchable (1935) one of the characters is a poet, Iqbal Nath Sarashar, who blames both Indians and Westerners for distorting the real ‘message’ of the ancient Indian sages: We have throughout our long history been realists, believing in the stuff of this world in. the here and now, in the flesh and the blood. Man is born, and reborn, according to the Upanishads in this world .....We don’t believe in the other world, as these Europeans would have you believe we do.....Surprisingly Iqbal goes on to attack Shankaracharya, the great medieval commentator on the Upanishads for his distorting of Vedic truth. Shankara is the Hindu philosopher par excellence, the founder of Advaita Vedanta which many Indologists would regard as ‘orthodox Hinduism’ (if such a loose and tolerant religion can be said to have an orthodoxy at all). Briefly and crudely summarised, Shankara’s Vedanta is a ruthless monism which sees everything as illusory except Brahman, the ‘only Reality’. Brahman, the reality behind the apparent universe, is also the God in every being that appears to be on earth and in the universe at large. He is changeless, timeless and therefore the passing show of phenomenal life, including successive rebirths, is a total illusion born of imperfect understanding. Imperfect knowledge seems for Shankara to be the equivalent of what Christians call the ‘fallen’, sinful condition of man’s life. Salvation (moksha) comes from realisation (a difficult process) of the absolutely illusory and futile nature of all separate existences. This nondualistic, totally idealistic, Advaita Vedanta is blamed by Anand’s poet for the other-worldliness and fatalism of Indians which have plunged their country allegedly into ‘casteism’ and poverty and made them easy prey for the more virile European nations. Iqbal is the spokesman of Anand’s angry rejection of a romantic and mystical vision of India. India to the young Anand, meant terrible privations, the burden of caste borne on the shoulders of the poorest, empty traditionalism, and the perpetuation of foreign rule.

(14) H. M. Williams: Passionate Realism

      The most important writer in the new wave of realism that swept over Indian literature in the nineteen twenties and nineteen thirties was Mulk Raj Anad. As befits the aspirations of a social realist, he chose the novel as his medium, and it was the novel which was to remain dominant for Indo-Anglian writers up to the present time. Anand’s early—and best—novels are deliberate attempts to expose the distress of the lower castes and classes of India; they are undisguised in their plea for social change, and are motivated by intense anger and pity The configurations of the novels change, but the underlying pattern is Uniform; the destruction of a human victim in India who, in spite of his good-will, his innocence and his aspirations to a better life, is brutally destroyed by the socio-economic system that is inhuman, whether in its traditional feudal form of a caste system or in its more recent manifestation as ‘imperialistic capitalism’. Anand’s novels are far from perfect as works of art, but their passionate realism is arresting in a powerful, if crude way and they remain compulsive (and occasionally repulsive to the tender sensibility) reading to this day.

(15) H. M. Williams: Anand's Literary Career

      Anand has devoted his whole life to letters and the arts in general. His career falls naturally into two parts, with the Second World War and Independence intervening. Up to 1939 he was active mainly in England where he frequented literary and left-wing political circles, as both writer and political activist in the service of Indian nationalism and socialism. Not without a struggle, he obtained fame with six novels published between 1935 and 1942, which provide a discontinuous but homogenous picture of the urban proletariat, the low castes and the peasantry before and after the first World War. The most famous of them is Coolie which obtained an extensive readership in many English-speaking countries, becoming one of the best-known socially-realistic novels of the nineteen-thirties. In the second part of his career, which began after Indian Independence, Dr. Anand has become a leading cultural figure as the editor of the art magazine, Marg, in Bombay and as spokesman of India at numerous international literary gatherings. His own literary contributions to post Independence India has not really matched his earlier work, but he has remained an inspiration to many of the younger writers. He should be given most credit for establishing the novel as a favoured medium for Indo-Anglians and for deflecting this literature from a worn out romantic poetising into the more vigorous forms of realistic prose-fiction.

(16) Dieter Riemenschneider: Panchi's Alienation

      Though Panchi, the protagonist in The Old Woman and the Cow, does not yet have to sell his labour but still owns his fields, he is depicted as a completely alienated individual. The one scene which shows him at work in his fields is a case in point. "While ploughing with his bullocks he is struggling continuously with them: this takes the form of either coaxing or brutalizing them. Work for Panchi is at once a necessity, a means to make ends meet, and an act of suffering. His thoughts of others, especially of his wife and relatives, reveal his alienation from man unlike Lalu he is not concerned about their fate but only about his own. Panchi appears to be highly egoistic, full of self-pity and superstitious beliefs. He seems to have lost his humanity and is presented as a socially isolated person.

      Panchi must be considered a unique creation among Anand’s characters. Though there is no lack of totally alienated individuals in his novels they are almost without exception members of the owning classes. Since it is in their interest not to change economic or social conditions prevailing in an antagonistic class-society these characters appear to be static, “one sided”, unchangeable, in short: types. Although they are alientated individuals they do not suffer from alienation as members of the working classes do. As Marx puts it: “The owning classes and the proletraian class are both alienated However the owning classes are pleased with this condition and realize alienation as their own power; it appears to them as human existence. The proletariat faces destruction through alienation”. Panchi, on the other hand, does not belong to the owning classes really but has internalized the values and norms of the ruling classes to such an extent that he rather identifies himself with them than with those of his own class. Thus his alienation from man takes the specific form of alienation from his own class.

      In the scene depicting Panchi at work Anand succeeds in making transparent a degree of man’s self-alienation which leaves no room for understanding oneself or others but will eventually lead to self-destruction. Panchi is the only example of a member of the dispossessed classes in whom the full effect of alienation on man’s mind, a depiction which reflects the author’s insight into a development taking place under conditions of fully developed capitalism which did not yet prevail at the time when this writer composed his, work. However, we have to keep in mind that Panchi plays the role of the antagonist in this novel whereas his wife Gauri, being the protagonist, embodies Anand’s belief in the strength of man to create conditions under which self-realization will be possible again. Panchi, on the other hand, embodies Anand’s fears of a potential development of man in India who will not learn to understand the reason of his suffering.

(17) Dieter Riemenschneider: Alienation in “The Big Heart”

      Strange though it may seem at first, Anand is not interested in describing the extent of alienation in the work process as it is experienced by Ananta on the one hand and Mehru on the other hand. It is rather the degree of alienation of man which characterizes those scenes in which the complexity of labour is depicted: and, paradoxically alienation seems to have affected Ananta and his employer more deeply than Mehru and his “superiors” While Lal Chand who gave Ananta the order to make a large copper cauldron is only interested in lowering the coppersmith’s wages and in increasing his own profit, Anata is dumbfounded that the head of his own community has taken to acting as a capitalist rather than a brother - “thathiar”. He is unable to establish communication with him and in the end Anata says bitterly. “I had better go home and change my profession.” Through these words, though hardly grasped by Ananta himself the author shows us that a change in the relationship of man and working process has already taken place. The idea that a craftsman achieves realization in the product of his labour has become false long ago. This conclusion is confirmed when we look at the very first scene of The Big Heart: Ananta is working upon a large cauldron “imprinting evenly spaced rows of bright moon strokes” on it. However, he does not concentrate on his work; it is rather a mechanical action which he performs deftly and quickly while his thoughts have turned towards the nightmare he had the previous night. An explanation for Anand’s procedure may be found when we look at the central conflict in the novel: it is caused by the opening of the factory and the consequent loss of work for many coppersmiths. The depicting of Ananta at work and selling of his cauldron reveals that Anand does not look back nostalgically to a period when man achieved fulfilment in the production of articles. On the contrary the author tries to convey the positive meaning the introduction of labour may have. And this may explain why Mehru, working at the factory now, is less affected by alienation than we should expect. It is true that he is discontented with his work: the machine frightens him; his work as sweeper and, soon afterwards, as a labourer performing the most simple and boring actions serving a machine make him recall the more satisfying work in his own shop. However, his thoughts turn to his time off and he imagines what complicated and useful articles he could produce then so that he would really find satisfaction in his work. Besides, the mechanical work done at the factory gives him time to turn his attention to his relationship with others. Though there is the fear of losing one’s job, there is also envy and the attempt to exploit each other. We feel that Anand realizes the historical necessity of replacing outmoded methods of production by more modern ones. At the same time he sees a change for man to use these methods of production to his own human advantage by e.g. trying to overcome alienation from man and from the work process. Anand’s historical views then prove to be of a dynamic character but, again, potential “solution” of man’s alienation are made a task of the individual’s goodwill rather than of man’s efforts to understand the essential relationship between capital and labour in a capital and labour in a capitalistic society

(18) R. Shepherd: Development of Anand’s Heroes

      Although Anand’s heroes develop in maturity through successive novels from one to the next, this development is not simply linear; the development from Bakha to Lal Singh to the Maharajah Ashok Kumar is one of worldliness or sophistication accompanied by increasing psychological complexity Interestingly enough this is also the sort of complexity encountered in the personal biographies Seven Summers and Morning Face. There are numerous similarities between Krishna and the other heroes, but most notably a kind of mental dichotomy between conflicting attitudes. In Seven Summers the author speaks of two opposite poles to Krishna’s character, the outgoing and ingoing sides to his nature. Krishna’s developing perspicacity is qualified by a deeply implanted superstitious fear. This is the nature of Nur’s fear, in Lament on the Death of a Master of Arts, when he too recalls the stories of his childhood “the terror of ginns and bhuts and churels and other denizens of the nether world over which, the Koran said, presided His Satanic Majesty the Devil.” It is the same sort of fear experienced by Lal Singh when he passes the cremation ground or when he encounters the “witchwoman” Bhogat Mai or when he wrestes with the “malevolent spirits” in the strip of jungle on the march to Allahabad. This dichotomy is suggested in his vacillation, in the way he cannot act without casting a backward glance; and it is also suggested in the indecision of Ananta in The Big Heart who feels curiously divided by two voices one threatening doom and the other predicting victory; and as for Dr. Shankar in Private Life a corresponding problem results from the doctor’s conflicting loyalties to the ailing Maharajah, and to the people of Sham Pur who suffer as the result of the Maharajah’s caprices. The implications of this dilemma are noteworthy: for while in the sphere of direct action Dr. Shankar feels guilty about “substituting psychology for morality;” or allowing sympathetic understanding to interfere with moral judgement,” it is precisely this substitution in the sphere of Anand’s art which makes for cogent moral persuasion; in Private Life the plight of the ordinary citizen in Sham Pur becomes all the more hideous, as the consequence of our better understanding of Sham Pur’s neurotic ruler.

(19) Dieter Riemenschneider: Bakha’s Attitude to Work

      It is Bakha’a duty to clean the primitive public latrines situated close to the outcaste colony of small North-Indian town. He does his work in a manner so efficient and concentrated that to the onlooker he appears almost too intelligent, too superior for this sort of activity Labour as described here is at once part of man’s life and something separate from it, an activity which remains alien to him: Anand compares Bakha’s working with the movement of a wave: “He seemed as easy as a wave sailing away on a deep-bedded river”; and expressed once more in a less metaphorical manner: “....though his job was dirty he remained comparatively clean. He didn’t even soil his sleeves...” Yet, this is only part of Bakha’s reality. His labour is intrinsically connected with his social status: One of the officers Bakha serves, a high-caste Hindu, presents him with a hockey-stick and this evokes the habitual, almost inborn “trait of servility in Bakha”. Social status and labour define his relationship to caste-Hindus and serve him to identify himself Though Bakha seems to be in harmony with his work (‘lie slowly slipped into a song....And he went forward with eager step, from job to job, a marvel of movement, dancing through his work”), Anand takes pains not to mislead us about Bakha’s attitude towards his work. He does not want to tell us that there is dignity even in the meanest labour: “A soft smile lingered on his lips, the smile of a slave overjoyed at the condescension of his master more akin to pride than to happiness.” Bakha is not really anxious to do more than is expected and would like to have a different job: “He preferred to imagine himself sweeping the streets in the place of his father. ‘That is easy work’, he said to himself”. And it turns out, in the end, that the impression of efficiency and concentration bakha creates is nothing else but the outward manifestation of his efforts to suppress the thought of his work; as Anand puts it at the end of the scene: “He worked unconsciously This forgetfulness or emptiness persisted in him over long periods. It was a sort of insensitivity created in him by the kind of work he had to do, a tough skin which would be a shield against all the most awful sensations.” It is Anand’s purpose to show that even a peirson belonging to the lowest social class is essentially a hunian being who suffers from having to perform alienated labour forced upon him by caste-society The seemingly “conscious attitude to alienated labour” expressed by Bakha either through suppressing any thought of it or through performing it in a most mechanical manner are the author’s literary means of conveying his purpose.

(20) Gillian Packham: Distinctive Qualities

      Anand’s humanist philosophy has changed little since the condification given above, but there are two important aspects which the codification plays down. The first is Anand’s insistence on “a comprehensive humanism in our time and derived from the historical process itself” The historical development which he traces, especially in the Indian tradition, of the gradual emergence of humanist values and their dissociation from idealism underpins his faith in continuing human progress and the necessity for “the acceptance of the insights from the whole human heritage which compel men to participate in the emergent one world culture.” His faith in the development of mankind as a whole supports his belief in the possibilities of the development of the individual which is an important theme in his novels. This optimistic view of human development differentiates Anand’s humanism from the humanism of Sartre. The second aspect of his humanist faith which this codification plays down is his view of the individual and society as mutually supporting:

There can be hardly any chance for an individual to realise the highest potentialities in his nature, if the society of which he is part remains static, moribund and undemocratic: conversely a new democratic society cannot flourish unless it creates conditions for the emergence of more and more sovereign individuals.

      He believes that the way in which society is organized influences the development of human beings: “I believe that the deepest socialism is the only basis for perfecting the deepest human personality.”

      When Anand is considered within the English literary tradition in which he began writing, he must be grouped with the Marsixt writers of the nineteen thirties. However, his theory and practice cannot be completely identified with theirs. His work shows the same concern with social reality and the same anger at injustice as theirs does. But it also shows a spirit of optimism and a faith in the individual which can be associated more closely with the broader humanist outlook of Malraux and Silone than with English social realism. Anand’s rejection of Marxism as a specific creed was final, but he never denied the humanist basis which his Marxism shared with that of the English radicals of the thirties movement. In fact, he has redefined his humanist beliefs, which grew out of his interest in Marxism, making them the basis for his later development as a novelist concerned with the development of individual consciousness and individual values.

(21) H. M. Williams: Untouchable: An Appraisal

      Both Untouchable and Coolie are intentionally shocking portrayals of the depressed classes. In Untouchable a latrine-cleaner, Bakha, is shown as a genial athletic boy totally free from bitterness and ‘class-feeling’, enjoying life, sport, fun, wearing cast-off clothes of genial English soldiers—he is a great admirer of the ‘sahibs’—Until at the age of eighteen he touches a Brahmin, who recoils from him in. anger and horror; and he is made brutally aware that to a whole section of Hindu society he is regarded as ‘unclean’, because, as a sweeper he handles the urine and faeces deposited in commodes and latrines. From then on, Bakha learns the ‘curse’ of the untouchable which has descended upon him from his father. The awakening of bitter anguish in the genial lovable Bakha is the finest part of this novel. Less convincing are the ‘three solutions to the problem’ presented to Bakha. A caricature of a Salvation Army colonel (bullied by a coarse-grained racialist wife) tries without success to bring Bakha to the feet of Christ. Later; he hears Mahatma Gandhi addressing crowds with the message that the untouchables are God’s own people—Harijans. Far from being defiled, the sweeper is the purifier of Indian life, since it is his privilege to remove the Brahmin’s dirt. Gandhi elates and disturbs him. A third and ‘final’ solution is offered by the poet Iqbal, who stresses the value of material progress and social justice. When water closets have made the latrine sweeper’s job unnecessary the untouchable will be liberated. Anand, it seems, wants us to accept this scientific materialistic solution to Bakha’s tragic fate; a curious anticlimax after the moving words of the Mahatma which offer quite a different solution. Thus Untouchable suggests both the strength and the weakness of Anand as a novelist: fine sympathetic portrayal of Indian reality in terms of the lives of the dispossessed, to some degree marred by glib ‘socialistic’ answers to imponderable questions bound up with religious traditions and deep-seated social customs.

(22) E. M. Forster: Form of the Untouchable

      The book is simply planned, but it has form. The action occupies one day and takes place in a small area. The great catastrophe of the ‘touching’ occurs in the morning, and poisons all that happens subsequently even such pleasant episodes as the hockey match and the country walk. After a jagged course of ups and downs, we come to the solution, or rather to the three solutions, with which the book closes. The first solution is that of Hutchinson, the Salvationist missionary: Jesus Christ. But though Bakha is touched at hearing that Christ receives all men, irrespective of caste, he gets bored, because the missionary cannot tell him who Christ is. Then follows the second solution, with the effect of a crescendo: Gandhi. Gandhi too says that all Indians are equal, and the account he gives of a Brahmin doing sweeper’s work goes straight to the boy’s heart. Hard upon this comes the third solution, put into the mouth of a modernist poet. It is prosaic, straightforward, and considered in the light of what has love before in the book, it is very convincing. No God is needed to rescue the untouchables, no vows of self-sacrifice and abnegation on the part of more fortunate Indians, but simply and solely—the flush system. Introduce water-closets and main-drainage throughout India, and all this wicked rubbish about untouchability will disappear. Some readers may find this closing section of the book too voluble and sophisticated, in comparison with the clear observation which has preceded it, but it is an integral part of the author’s scheme. It is the necessary climax, and it has mounted up with triple effect. Bakha returns to his father and his wretched bed, thinking now of the Mahatma, now of the Machine. His Indian day is over and the next day will be like it, but on the surface of the earth if not in the depths of the sky a change is at hand.

(23) E. M. Forster: Dirt and Cleanliness

      This remarkable novel describes a day in the life of a sweeper in an Indian city with every realistic circumstance. Is it a clean book or a dirty one? Some readers, especially those who consider themselves all-white, will go purple in the face with rage before they have finished a dozen pages and will exclaim that they cannot trust themselves to speak. I cannot trust myself either, though for a different reason: the book seems to me indescribably clean and I hesitate for words in which this can be conveyed. Avoiding rhetoric and circumlocution, it has gone straight to the heart of its subject and purified it. No one of us are pure—we shouldn’t be alive if we were. But to the straightforward all things can become pure, and it is to the directness of this attack that Mr. Anand’s success is probably due.

      What a strange business has been made of this business of the human body relieving itself. The ancient Greeks did not worry about it, and they were the sanest and happiest of men. But both our civilisation and the Indian civilisation have got tied up in most fantastic knots. Our own knot was only tied a hundred years ago, and some of us are hoping to undo it. It takes the form of prudishness and reticence; we have been trained from childhood to think excretion shameful, and grave evils have resulted, both physical and psychological, with which modern education is just beginning to cope. The Indian tangle is of a different kind. Indians, like most orientals, are refreshingly frank: they have none of our complexes about functioning, they accept the process as something necessary and natural, like sleep. On the other hand they have evolved a hideous nightmare unknown to the West: the belief that the products are ritually unclean as well as physically unpleasant, and that those who carry them away or otherwise help to dispose of them are outcastes from society Really it takes the human mind to evolve anything so devilish. No animal could have hit on it. As one of Mr. Anand’s characters says: They think we are mere dirt because we clean their dirt.’

(24) E. M. Forster: The Sweeper’s Plight

      The sweeper is worse off than a slave, for the slave may change his master and his duties may even become free, but the sweeper is bound forever, born into a state from which he cannot escape and where he is excluded from social intercourse and the consolations of his religion. Unclean himself, he pollutes others when he touches them. They have to purify themselves, and to rearrange their plans for the day Thus he is a disquieting as well as a disgusting object to the orthodox as he walks along the public roads, and it is his duty to call out and warn them that he is coming. No wonder that the dirt enters into his soul, and that he feels himself at moments to be what he is supposed to be. It is sometimes said that he is so degraded that he doesn’t mind, but this is not the opinion of those who have studied his case, nor is it borne out by my own slight testimony; I remember on my visits to India noticing that the sweepers were more sensitive-looking and more personable than other servants, and I knew one who had some skill as a poet.

(25) E. M. Forster: Distinctive Quality

      Untouchable could only have been written by an Indian and by an Indian who observed from the outside. No European, however sympathetic, could have created the character of Bakha, because he would not have known enough about his troubles. And no untouchable could have written the book, because he would have been involved in indignation and self-pity Mr. Anand stands in the ideal position. By caste he is a Kshatriya, and he might have been expected to inherit the pollution-complex. But as a child he played with the children of the sweepers attached to an Indian regiment, he grew to be fond of them, and to understand a tragedy which he did not share. He has just the right mixture of insight and detachment, and the fact that he has come to fiction through philosophy has given him depth. It might have given him vagueness—that curse of the generalising mind—but his hero is no suffering abstraction. Bakha is a real individual, lovable, thwarted, sometimes grand, sometimes weak, and thoroughly Indian. Even his physique is distinctive; we can recognize his broad intelligent face, graceful torso, and heavy buttocks, as he does his nasty jobs, or stumps out in artillery boots in hopes of a pleasant walk through the city with a paper of cheap sweets in his hand.

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