Today, Indian writing in English or Indo-Anglian writing has certainly come of age, with the novel having a pride of place and names such as Salman Rushdie, V.S. Naipaul, Vikram Seth, Kiran Desai, Amitav Ghosh, Arundhati Roy, and Arvind Adiga prominently figuring in the list. But the credit for placing Indo-Anglian writing on a high pedestal should go to earlier writers like Rabindranath Tagore, Mulk Raj Anand, R.K. Narayan and Raja Rao. Among these, Mulk Raj Anand has a unique place because of the ideals and ideas he espoused through his novels.
This concise book deals with Anand’s three early novels — Coolie, Untouchable, and Two Leaves and a Bud — and a few short stories, which were conceived, written and published during the colonial period — the Raj. It also includes critical essays on such themes as Life and Art, Themes and Applications, Anand and His Use of Language and a study on the Women in Anand’s Short Stories.
Dr. Ketaki Goswami, with her erudition and scholarship and research findings on Mulk Raj Anand’s works, brings out the quintessential Anand — the messiah of the downtrodden, the unwanted and the unloved. For, Anand intricately weaves through his novels, the theme of exploitation and the apathy, the indifference and the condescending attitude of the affluent towards the marginalized sections of the society whose pangs and pains wrenched his heart. Anand’s life-long quest was to show love and compassion to the poor as also to alleviate their pains and give a magic touch to the downtrodden to make their lives bearable. In all the three novels and the short stories discussed in the book, the author shows that the novelist believed that the Summum bonum of a human being is living a life with dignity which has been denied to the lower castes and the outcasts — the lower dregs of humanity — because of the repulsive attitude of the rich. Being a humanist of the highest order, Anand concerns himself with the whole man, his development, sense of dignity and decency in living.
This book should be extremely useful and invaluable to the students of English Literature who opt for the paper on Indian Writing in English. The academic community also will find reading the book highly interesting, stimulating and ennobling.