Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Mulk Raj Anand

Today is the death anniversary of Dr.Mulk Raj Anand , the doyen of Indian writing in English, who along with R.K.Narayan and Raja Rao constitutes the famous threesome who were the first among the Indian writers who got published abroad and were recognized and acknowledged not only in India but in the entire English speaking world.I got familiar with his name when in school, we had 'The Lost Child' a short story written by him in our syllabus. Unfortunately, I have not been able to read many of his works, but his life story has always fascinated me. His novels like ‘Coolie’ and ‘ The Untouchable’ underscore his deep empathy for the downtrodden and the underprivileged. While writing ‘The Untouchable’, a real incident of one of his aunts being excommunicated due to her sharing a meal with a muslim woman must also have been at the back of his mind.In his writings , he seems optimist enough to dream of a casteless society. He comes across as an unusual combination of being a Leftist and a Gandhist.He worked for the cause of Indian Independence during his stay in London.
While living in London, he became a friend of literary stalwarts, like E.M .Forster, T.S.Eliot and George Orwell.He also worked for T.S.Eliot’s magazine ‘Criterion’.
Anand even travelled to Spain to participate in the Spanish Civil War. The world famous painter Picasso was also a friend of Mulk Raj Anand. Apart from writing critically acclaimed novels and short stories, Anand was also an Art Critic and founded MARG , an organization to study and promote Art. I had privilege of meeting him in late 80s at Pooh in Kinnaur,where he spent a night each on way to and back from Spiti in connection with a project on Himalayan Architecture.
He wrote nine novels which are- Untouchable ,Coolie ,Two Leaves and a Bud ,The Village,Across the Black Waters,The Sword and the Sickle,The Big Heart ,The Private Life of an Indian Prince, and The Road , in the chronological order.
‘Morning Face’ a part of his autoboigraphical venture won him the Sahitya Academy Award in 1968.
He was also a recipient of Padma Bhushan.
Our humble tributes to the great author and a towering intellectual !

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