Mulk Raj Anand Biography
Mulk Raj Anand comments:
Nationality: Indian. Born: Peshawar, 1905. Education: Khalsa College, Amritsar; Punjab University, 1921-24, B.A. (honours) 1924; University College, University of London, 1926-29, Ph.D.; Cambridge University, 1929-30; League of Nations School of Intellectual Cooperation, Geneva, 1930-32. Career: Lecturer, School of Intellectual Cooperation, Summer 1930, and Workers Educational Association, London, intermittently 1932-45; has also taught at the universities of Punjab, Benares, and Rajasthan, Jaipur, 1948-66; Tagore Professor of Literature and Fine Art, University of Punjab, 1963-66; Visiting Professor, Institute of Advanced Studies, Simla, 1967-68. Fine Art Chairman, Lalit Kala Akademi (National Academy of Art), New Delhi, 1965-70. Since 1946 editor, Marg magazine, Bombay: editor and contributor, Marg Encyclopedia of Art, 136 vols., 1948-81; since 1946 director, Kutub Publishers, Bombay. Since 1970 President of the Lokayata Trust, for creating a community and cultural centre in Hauz Khas village, New Delhi. Awards: Leverhulme fellowship, 1940-42; World Peace Council prize, 1952; Padma Bhushan, India, 1968; Akademi prize, for Morning Face, 1970; Sahitya Academy award, 1974; Birla award; distinguished writer award, State Goverment of Maharashtra, India. D. Litt: University of Delhi, University of Patiala, University of Andhra, University of Benaras, and University of Kanpur. Fellow, Indian Academy of Letters.
Untouchable. London, Wishart, 1935; New York, New York LibertyPress, n.d.; revised edition, London, Bodley Head, 1970.
The Coolie. London, Lawrence and Wishart, 1936; as Coolie, London, Penguin, 1945; New York, Liberty Press, 1952; revised edition, London, Bodley Head, 1972.
Two Leaves and a Bud. London, Lawrence and Wishart, 1937; NewYork, Liberty Press, 1954.
The Village. London, Cape, 1939.
Lament on the Death of a Master of Arts. Lucknow, Naya Sansar, 1939.
Across the Black Waters. London, Cape, 1940.
The Sword and the Sickle. London, Cape, 1942.
The Big Heart. London, Hutchinson, 1945; revised edition, edited bySaros Cowasjee, New Delhi, Arnold-Heinemann, 1980.
Private Life of an Indian Prince. London, Hutchinson, 1949; revised edition, London, Bodley Head, 1970.
Seven Summers: The Story of an Indian Childhood. London, Hutchinson, 1951.
The Old Woman and the Cow. Bombay, Kutub, 1960; as Gauri, NewDelhi, Orient, 1976; Liverpool, Lucas, 1987.
The Road. Bombay, Kutub, 1961; London, Oriental University Press, 1987.
Death of a Hero. Bombay, Kutub, 1963.
Morning Face. Bombay, Kutub, 1968; Liverpool, Lucas, and EastBrunswick, New Jersey, Books from India, 1986.
Confession of a Lover. New Delhi, Arnold-Heinemann, 1976; Liverpool, Lucas, 1988.
The Bubble. New Delhi, Arnold-Heinemann, 1987; Liverpool, Lucas, 1988.
The Lost Child and Other Stories. London, J.A. Allen, 1934.
The Barber's Trade Union and Other Stories. London, Cape, 1944.
The Tractor and the Corn Goddess and Other Stories. Bombay, Thacker, 1947.
Reflections on the Golden Bed. Bombay, Current Book House, 1947.
The Power of Darkness and Other Stories. Bombay, Jaico, 1958.
Lajwanti and Other Stories. Bombay, Jaico, 1966.
Between Tears and Laughter. New Delhi, Sterling, 1973.
Selected Short Stories of Mulk Raj Anand, edited by M.K. Naik. NewDelhi, Arnold-Heinemann, 1977.
Tales Told by an Idiot: Selected Short Stories. Mumbai, JaicoPublishing House, 1999.
India Speaks (produced London, 1943).
Persian Painting. London, Faber, 1930.
Curries and Other Indian Dishes. London, Harmsworth, 1932.
The Golden Breath: Studies in Five Poets of the New India. London, Murray, and New York, Dutton, 1933.
The Hindu View of Art. Bombay, Asia Publishing House, and London, Allen and Unwin, 1933; revised edition, Asia Publishing House, 1957.
Letters on India. London, Routledge, 1942.
Apology for Heroism: An Essay in Search of Faith. London, Drummond, 1946.
Homage to Tagore. Lahore, Sangam, 1946.
Indian Fairy Tales: Retold (for children). Bombay, Kutub, 1946.
On Education. Bombay, Hind Kitabs, 1947.
The Bride's Book of Beauty, with Krishna Hutheesing. Bombay, Kutub, 1947; as The Book of Indian Beauty, Rutland, Vermont, Tuttle, 1981.
The Story of India (for children). Bombay, Kutub, 1948.
The King-Emperor's English; or, The Role of the English Language in the Free India. Bombay, Hind Kitabs, 1948.
Lines Written to an Indian Air: Essays. Bombay, Nalanda, 1949.
The Indian Theatre. London, Dobson, 1950; New York, Roy, 1951.
The Story of Man (for children). New Delhi, Sikh Publishing House, 1952.
The Dancing Foot. New Delhi, Ministry of Information, 1957.
Kama Kala: Some Notes on the Philosophical Basis of Hindu Erotic Sculpture. London, Skilton, 1958; New York, Lyle Stuart, 1962.
India in Colour. Bombay, Taraporevala, London, Thames and Hudson, and New York, McGraw Hill, 1959.
More Indian Fairy Tales (for children). Bombay, Kutub, 1961.
Is There a Contemporary Indian Civilisation? Bombay, Asia Publishing House, 1963.
The Story of Chacha Nehru (for children). New Delhi, Rajpal, 1965.
The Third Eye: A Lecture on the Appreciation of Art. Patiala, University of Punjab, 1966.
The Humanism of M.K. Gandhi: Three Lectures. Chandigarh, University of Panjab, 1967(?).
The Volcano: Some Comments on the Development of Rabindranath Tagore's Aesthetic Theories. Baroda, Maharaja Sayajirao University, 1968.
Roots and Flowers: Two Lectures on the Metamorphosis of Technique and Content in the Indian-English Novel. Dharwar, Karnatak University, 1972.
Mora. New Delhi, National Book Trust, 1972.
Author to Critic: The Letters of Mulk Raj Anand, edited by SarosCowasjee. Calcutta, Writers Workshop, 1973.
Album of Indian Paintings. New Delhi, National Book Trust, 1973.
Folk Tales of Punjab. New Delhi, Sterling, 1974.
Seven Little-Known Birds of the Inner Eye. Rutland, Vermont, Tuttle, 1978.
The Humanism of Jawaharlal Nehru. Calcutta, Visva-Bharati, 1978.
The Humanism of Rabindranath Tagore. Aurangabad, MarathwadaUniversity, 1979.
Maya of Mohenjo-Daro (for children). New Delhi, Children's BookTrust, n.d.
Conversations in Bloomsbury (reminiscences). New Delhi, Arnold-Heinemann, and London, Wildwood House, 1981.
Madhubani Painting. New Delhi, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, 1984; Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1995.
Pilpali Sahab: Story of a Childhood under the Raj (autobiography).New Delhi, Arnold-Heinemann, 1985.
Poet-Painter: Paintings by Rabindranath Tagore. New Delhi, Abhinav, 1985.
Homage to Jamnalal Bajaj: A Pictorial Biography. Ahmedabad, Allied, 1988.
Amrita Sher Gill: An Essay in Interpretation. New Delhi, NationalGallery of Modern Art, 1989.
Kama Yoga. New Delhi, Arnold, and Edinburgh, Aspect, n.d.
Chitralakshana (on Indian painting). New Delhi, National BookTrust, n.d.
Afterword, The Panorama of Jaipur Paintings by Rita Pratap. NewDelhi, D. K. Printworld, 1996.
Afterword, Price of Partition: Recollections and Reflections by RafiqZakaria. Mumbai, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1998.
Afterword, V. K. Krishna Menon: A Biography by K. C. Arora. NewDelhi, Sanchar Publishing House, 1998.
Editor, Marx and Engels on India. Allahabad, Socialist Book Club, 1933.
Editor, with Iqbal Singh, Indian Short Stories. London, New India, 1947.
Editor, Introduction to Indian Art, by A.K. Coomaraswamy. Madras, Theosophical Publishing House, and Wheaton, Illinois, Theosophical Press, 1956.
Editor, Experiments: Contemporary Indian Short Stories. Agra, Kranchalson, 1968.
Editor, Annals of Childhood. Agra, Kranchalson, 1968.
Editor, Grassroots. Agra, Kranchalson, 1968(?).
Editor, Tales from Tolstoy. New Delhi, Arnold-Heinemann, 1978.
Editor, with Lance Dane, Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana (from translation by Sir Richard Burton and F.F. Arbuthnot). New Delhi, Arnold-Heinemann, and Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, Humanities Press, 1982.
Editor, with S. Balu Rao, Panorama: An Anthology of Modern Indian Short Stories. New Delhi, Sterling, 1986; London, Oriental University Press, 1987.
Editor, Chacha Nehru. New Delhi, Sterling, 1987.
Editor, Aesop's Fables. New Delhi, Sterling, 1987.
Editor, The Historic Trial of Mahatma Gandhi. New Delhi, NationalCouncil of Educational Research and Training, 1987.
Editor, The Other Side of the Medal, by Edward Thompson. NewDelhi, Sterling, 1989.
Editor, Sati: A Writeup of Raja Ram Mohan Roy about Burning of Widows Alive. New Delhi, B.R. Publishing, 1989.
Editor, Splendors of Himachal Heritage. New Delhi, Abhinav Publications, 1997.
Mulk Raj Anand: A Checklist by Gillian Packham, Mysore, Centre for Commonwealth Literature and Research, 1983.
Mulk Raj Anand: A Critical Essay by Jack Lindsay, Bombay, Hind Kitabs, 1948, revised edition, as The Elephant and the Lotus, Bombay, Kutub, 1954; "Mulk Raj Anand Issue" of Contemporary Indian Literature (New Delhi), 1965; An Ideal of Man in Anand's Novels by D. Riemenschneider, Bombay, Kutub, 1969; Mulk Raj Anand: The Man and the Novelist by Margaret Berry, Amsterdam, Oriental Press, 1971; Mulk Raj Anand by K.N. Sinha, New York, Twayne, 1972; Mulk Raj Anand by M.K. Naik, New Delhi, and London, Arnold-Heinemann, and New York, Humanities Press, 1973; Anand: A Study of His Fiction in Humanist Perspective by G.S. Gupta, Bareilly, Prakash, 1974; So Many Freedoms: A Study of the Major Fiction of Mulk Raj Anand by Saros Cowasjee, New Delhi and London, Oxford University Press, 1978; Perspectives on Mulk Raj Anand edited by K.K. Sharma, Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, Humanities Press, 1978; The Yoke of Pity: A Study in the Fictional Writings of Mulk Raj Anand by Alastair Niven, New Delhi, Arnold-Heinemann, 1978; The Sword and the Sickle: A Study of Mulk Raj Anand's Novels by K.V. Suryanarayana Murti, Mysore, Geetha, 1983; The Novels of Mulk Raj Anand: A Thematic Study by Premila Paul, New Delhi, Sterling, 1983; The Wisdom of the Heart: A Study of the Works of Mulk Raj Anand by Marlene Fisher, New Delhi, Sterling, 1985; Studies in Mulk Raj Anand by P.K. Rajan, New Delhi, Arnold, 1986; Mulk Raj Anand: A Home Appraisal edited by Atma Ram, Hoshairpur, Punjab, Chaarvak, 1988; The Language of Mulk Raj Anand, Raja Rao, and R.K. Narayan by Reza Ahmad Nasimi, New Delhi, Capital, 1989; Mulk Raj Anand: A Short Story Writer by Vidhya Mohan Shethi, New Delhi, Ashish, n.d; Six Indian Novelists: Mulk Raj Anand, Raja Rao, R.K. Narayan, Balachandran Rajan, Kamala Markandaya, Anita Desai by A. V. Suresh Kumar, New Delhi, Creative Books, 1996; Mulk Raj Anand: The Journalist by Gita Bamezai, New Delhi, Kanishka Publishers, 2000.
I began to write early—a kind of free verse in the Punjabi and Urdu languages, from the compulsion of the shock of the death of my cousin when she was nine years old. I wrote a letter to God telling him He didn't exist. Later, going through the dark night of another bereavement, when my aunt committed suicide because she was excommunicated for interdining with a Muslim woman, I wrote an elegy. Again, when I fell in love with a young Muslim girl, who was married off by arrangement, I wrote calf love verse. The poet-philosopher, Muhammad Iqbal, introduced me to the problems of the individual through his long poem "Secrets of the Self." Through him, I also read Nietzsche to confirm my rejection of God. After a short term in jail, my father, who was pro-British, punished my mother for my affiliations with the Gandhi Movement. I went to Europe and studied various philosophical systems and found that these comprehensive philosophies did not answer life's problems. I was beaten up for not blacklegging against workers in 1926, in the coal-miner's strike. I joined a Marxist worker's study circle with Trade Unionist Alan Hutt, and met Palme-Dutt, John Strachey, T.S. Eliot, Herbert Read, Bonamy Dobrée, Harold Laski, Leonard Woolf. During that time I fell in love with a young Welsh girl painter, Irene, whose father was a biologist. For her I wrote a long confession about the break-up of my family, the British impact, and my later life. Nobody would publish the narrative. So I began to rewrite portions, as allegories, short stories, and novels. On a tour with Irene, in Paris, Rome, Vienna, Berlin, Brussels, I discovered Rimbaud, Gide, and Joyce. My first attempt at a novel was revised in Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, but was turned down by 19 publishers in London. The 20th offered to publish it if E.M. Forster wrote a Preface. This the author of A Passage to India did.
Since the publication of this first novel, I have written continuously on the human situation in the lives of people of rejects, outcasts, peasants, lumpen, and other eccentrics, thrown up during the transition from the ancient orthodox Indian society to the self-conscious modernist secular democracy.
I believe that creating literature is the true medium of humanism as against systematic philosophies, because the wisdom of the heart encourages insights in all kinds of human beings who grow to self-consciousness through conflicts of desire, will, and mood. I am inclined to think that the highest aim of poetry and art is to integrate the individual into inner growth and outer adjustment. The broken bundle of mirrors of the human personality in our time can only become the enchanted mirror if the sensibility is touched in its utmost pain and sheer pleasure and tenderest moments. No rounded answers are possible. Only hunches, insights, and inspirations and the karuna that may come from understanding.
The novelist's task is that of an all-comprehending "God," who understands every part of his creation, through pity, compassion, or sympathy—which is the only kind of catharsis possible in art. The world is itself action of the still center. The struggle to relate the word and the deed in the life of men is part of the process of culture, through which illumination comes to human beings. The world of art is communication from one individual to another, or to the group through the need to connect. This may ultimately yield the slogan "love one another," if mankind is to survive (against its own inheritance of fear, hatred, and contempt, now intensified through money-power, or privileges, and large-scale violence of wars) into the 21st century, in any human form.
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Mulk Raj Anand is the champion of the underdog. All his novels deal with the underprivileged sections of Indian society. He was the first Indian novelist to make an untouchable the hero of a novel. Untouchable describes one day in the life of 18-year-old Bakha, who is treated as dirt by all Hindus just because his profession is to clean latrines. Artistically it is the most perfect of Anand's earlier novels. The distinction of Anand's writing lies in capturing Bakha's work ethic—Bakha tackles his odious job with a conscientiousness that invests his movements with beauty. The next novel, Coolie, has a wider canvas and is more diffuse in structure. Munoo, a young orphan, works at a variety of odd jobs at Daulatpur, Bombay, and Simla till he dies aged 15 of tuberculosis brought on by undernourishment. Munoo is exploited not because of caste but because he is poor. Two Leaves and a Bud is about the plight of the laborers in a tea plantation in Assam; the novel fails because Anand's approach is too simplistic; the English owners are shown as unmitigated villains. Anand's next work was a trilogy with the young Lal Singh as hero. The Village is an authentic picture of a typical Punjabi village, and shows the adolescent Lal Singh rebelling against the narrow superstitions of the villagers—he goes so far as to cut his hair, unthinkable for a Sikh. Across the Black Waters shows Lal as a soldier fighting in the trenches of Flanders in World War I; his contact with the French makes him realize that the white races too are human, and not demigods like the British in India. The Sword and the Sickle shows Lal engaged in revolutionary activities in India after eloping with the village landlord's daughter; it is not as well written as the earlier two volumes.
Anand is a prolific writer, and has written a large number of extremely varied short stories. They reveal his gift for humor, and deal in a lighter vein with the problems that engage him in his novels—the exploitation of the poor, the impact of industrialization, colonialism, and race relations. One of Anand's best novels, The Big Heart, deals with the traditional coppersmiths who feel threatened by mechanization. The large-hearted Ananta tries to weld them into a trade union; he tells them that it is not the machines but the owners who exploit them, but he dies in a scuffle before his ideals can be realized.
The Old Woman and the Cow (republished as Gauri) takes up the plight of another underprivileged section of society—women. The heroine, Gauri, is sold to an old money-lender by her own mother out of economic necessity. Gauri re-enacts the Ramayana myth of Sita by staying for some time in the house of the old banker, just as Sita had to stay with Ravana. Gauri is reunited with her husband Panchi just as Sita was reunited with Rama, and Panchi rejects her later, just as Rama rejected the pregnant Sita because of social pressures. At this point, Anand gives a new turn to the old myth: unlike Sita who bore her sufferings meekly, Gauri rejects her cowardly husband and goes on to build a new life for herself. The story is well conceived and the use of the myth original, but the writing is hurried and slipshod, the harangues on social justice not organic to the plot. Private Life of an Indian Prince, a study of a neurotic maharajah, is confused and disorganized; some critics, however, have defended the narrative as a true reflection of the hero's psyche, and consider it Anand's best novel.
Anand is now at work on an ambitious seven-volume autobiographical novel, The Seven Ages of Man. Seven Summers, published more than four decades ago, is a lyrical account of early childhood, primarily from the child's point of view. Morning Face describes the life of the protagonist, Krishan Chander Azad, up to the age of 15, and we get a vivid picture of the brutality that once passed for school-teaching. Confessions of a Lover deals with Krishan's undergraduate days at Khalsa College, Amritsar. The novel is not only a moving human document, it is an authentic account of life in the Punjab in the 1920's, and records the ferment caused by Gandhi's satyagraha. The fourth volume, The Bubble, covers the period 1925-29; it shows Krishan as a student in England, obtaining a Ph.D. degree. He falls in love with Irene Rhys, and pours out his feelings by writing a long novel (just as Anand did in real life). Most of Anand's works have a linear structure, but The Bubble departs from this convention. It is in the form of letters, diary entries, and excerpts from the novel Krishan is writing; it also includes numerous philosophical discussions. The life of an Indian student in England of the time, and particularly Krishan's loneliness, are impressively portrayed. But, like Morning Face and Confessions of a Lover, The Bubble is too long (600 pages). If only the "outpourings" had been sensitively edited, The Bubble would have been Anand's best work, and a triumph in terms of technique.
The forthcoming And So He Plays His Part is the fifth volume of The Seven Ages of Man. Anand observes in his "Afterwords" (sic), "As the forthcoming novel entitled And So He Plays His Part is seven novels in one, I have decided to issue it in parts, beginning with Little Plays of Mahatma Gandhi, as work in progress, symbolic of my departure from the accepted form." This "novel" is in the form of 15 scenes of a drama, framed by a long letter to Irene and a postscript to this letter, and shows the hero Krishan Chaner Azad living in Gandhi's ashram at Sabarmati, working on a novel with an untouchable as hero. All the characters, including historical figures like Gandhi and Subhas Chandra Bose, speak the same bad English, and the exclamation mark seems to be the only punctuation in their speeches. The innumerable mistakes of spelling and grammar (perhaps the printer is to blame) make it difficult for the reader to appreciate Anand's new perspective on Mahatma Gandhi.
Anand attempts to capture the ambiance of Punjabi life by literally translating words and phrases, but this device does not always succeed. Readers outside the Punjab may find it difficult to make anything of phrases like "there is no talk," and "May I be your sacrifice." However, Anand is successful in presenting a vivid picture of the Punjabi peasant and the problems of the poor. The range of his novels is impressive, covering not only the Punjab but life in towns like Bombay and Simla, the trenches of Flanders, and the tea gardens of Assam. His concern for the underdog does not take the form of communism—he is above all a humanist, and his humanism embraces all aspects of life, from contemporary slums to ancient Indian art and philosophy.
—Shyamala A. Narayan