Development of Mulk Raj Anand: Mind as A Novelist

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      An author cannot remain aloof and segregated from the contemporary atmosphere and surroundings. He shares everything that happens around. A writer’s views and attitudes are determined by a number of influences which work upon him since childhood till the funeral and Mulk Raj is no exception to it at all. His cultural, social, academic heritage altogether shape his art and personality as well. Anand’s novels better reveal this fact.

Family’s Influences

      Anand is the son of a Coppersmith who renounced his ancestor’s profession and joined the British Army as a Head Clerk. He inherited courage, valour, and daring attitude from his father. Truly speaking, Anand exposed the hollowness and superficiality of hackney rituals intrepidly. He did not care for the hostile reaction of the caste Hindus. As a soldier he fought against the social evils. Philanthropy compassion, charity and love for the abandoned and neglected children, all these elements of virtue, Anand inherited from his mother. His mother was a peasant’s daughter. So she was simple and straightforward. His sympathy for the suffering masses is dominant in his novels and it made him the Christ, the Mesiah of the out castes. Of course, he championed the cause of the under-dogs. No doubt, he is one of the most powerful authors who makes aware the international community of miserable condition of the under-dogs.

Socio-Political Ambience: Its Influences

      Anand had witnessed great socio-political upheavals and during 1930’s the struggle for independence was at its peak. He saw the tragic massacre of Jallianwala Bagh incident and Civil Disobedience Movement. He underwent rigorous imprisonment for he denounced and condemned British tyranny He hated imperialism and raised voice against it through his writings. Feudalism unleashed terror on the poor Indians. They sucked the blood of the poor like leech. Anand did not remain mute over brutal social, political and cultural practices. Writers like Tagore did not pay any heed to it because the subject is too crude. Of course, it was not an easy task to write against the wolfs in guise of lambs. It is Anand who focused social, religious and political evils and drew the attention of the notion of world to the burning issues of India. His novels can be called ‘the epics of misery’.

General Strike in Britain: Its Impact

      In 1926, Mulk Raj Anand was in Britain when the General Strike in Britain racked the entire nation. The repressive measures adopted by the government revealed that Britain was well arrayed and cherished the interest of the minority which overpower the majority at home as well as in the empire. All progressive writers favoured international socialism and confirmed it as the only solution to the world’s problem. The Western allegiance to democracy was not free from excess of modernity and wealth. Anand, as an amazingly discreet writer, set his mind and heart to liberating the oppressed people.

Marxism: Its Impact

      Mulk Raj Anand studied The Communist Manifesto thoroughly soon after the strike. He was not influenced by Marx until 1932. He could not resist when he accidentally fell upon Marx’s Letters on India in the New York Herald Tribune in 1853. Marx’s philosophy transformed his social and political opinion because he was preoccupied with Hegel. The most remarkable thing about Marxism was that it was no dogma of a church militant—besides the calumniators who asserted it to be only another religion with Marx as its prophet—but a scientific and rational method for the study of society a hypothesis was leading to new discoveries.

      Later, on his return to India, he denied Marx’s impact because he was labelled as a propagandist and a naive Marxist. But the fact is that Anand’s thinking is to a considerable extent determined by Marxian doctrines though his novels show many of the weaknesses of the wholly committed writers.

Love Affair in Wales

      The novelist in Anand was awakened with a romantic incident while he was climbing Mount Snowdon. He met a fascinating and stunning beauty. She was the daughter of a scientific philosopher. He fell in her love. She was profoundly impressed by him and began to take interest in his personal details. She wanted to know about his childhood, boyhood and very subtle details from his life. Anand confessed everything frankly. His confessions were modelled in Rausseau’s Confession. Love motivated him to write and soon it ran to 2000 pages. It was too enormous for publishers to publish it. Anand derived some of the significant characters and incidents from his Confessions. Thus Untouchable came into existence. Anand got international acclaim and applause for his debut and masterpiece.

Books that Touched Him

      Anand has been a bibliophile and voracious reader. He has given the accounts of the books rather masterpieces that impressed him and determined his art. Tolstoy’s War and Peace awakened to the possibilities of the epic novel. He was overwhelmed by Dostoevsky’s The Possessed. He read Urdu poets and authors also. He loved Dr. Sir Mohammed Iqbal known for his erudition. Fasanai Azad, a satirical novel by Pandit Ratan Nath Sharshar touched him. He believed that only epic can contain the varieties of life in northern India. Victor Hugo’s short novels on French revolution touched him profoundly.

      Study in India and London as well, made him believe that anything could make a novel, provided one kept in view the limitation of the form, that is to say confined it to human beings—their relations with each other, in the warp and woof of the time in which they live, conceived through the imagination or transferred by it. Sanskrit literature discarded contemporary theme as taboo. Kalidas went against the stream and made a protest against traditionalism.

      Joyce’s writings made him aware of the “stream of consciousness” method. He realised that this technique alone can give expression to the Indian mind and metamorphose the inner realities of their soul. Joyce took the novels from outside incidents to moral and psychological inspiration. Iqbal, the renowned Urdu poet, Panchtantra, Punjabi folk tales and the character of Puran Singh in The Big Heart influenced Anand considerably.

Humanism and Anand: A Fine Synthesis

      An insight into Anand’s personality reveals that Anand was immensely influenced by humanism. Humanism became an indistinguishable part of his personality. This was the outcome of several influences. This synthesis contained the Greek idea of man being the measure of all things, the Renaissance humanism, Europeans belief in the possibility of achieving a better world order through science and mutual cooperation and renunciation of the supernatural, Buddha’s karuna (compassion). Kabir’s brotherhood, Gandhi’s untouchability Nehru’s peaceful co-existence and M.N. Roy’s Creed of Radical Humanism.

Anand’s Literary Personality

      M.K. Naik has summarised Anand’s Literary personality He said that his upbringing and intellectual growth led him discard the darker aspects of rituals and traditions. He voiced his protest against tyranny and injustice in the name of religion. He was well aware of hypocrisy and sycophancy and bigotry rooted in Indian soil. He criticised and condemned unscrupulous and mindless practices such as untouchability feudalism and exploitation of the have-nots by the haves. He lambasted the hegemony of the caste Hindus. Being an intellectual and a philosopher, he was not blind to the aesthetic aspects of tradition and culture. He admired the radical aspects of western society. He exposed the evils of Indian society and focused international attention on untouchability

      In short, Anand as a writer and as a person, is not without drawbacks and demerits. He is the sum of the legacy inherited from childhood onwards.

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