A great Indian novelist and short story writer in English Rasipuram Krishnaswami Narayan (1906-2001), popularly known as R. K. Narayan is famous in the world of literary art for his outstanding contribution to it. He is really a living legend of English literature. A creator of this kind he has enriched English literature with galaxies of fictions and facts. Like Mulk Raj Anand, another Indian maestro in this field, he holds versatile genius in his own wonder land of creativity.
R. K. Narayan was born in the village of Rasipuram in Tamil Nadu in October 10, 1906. He received his carly education in a Christian Missionary School in Madras, the city which has been renamed now as chennai. Later he was admitted in Maharaja’s College for higher education. He was graduated from that very college. His father was the headmaster of a government school. Madras city had left a great impact on Narayan’s life. This city nourished his mind with human kindness and empowered him with prime mover. He learnt to read how people bear with stoicism and ribaldry. After the completion of his graduation he left this historical city and settled in Mysore permanently.Unlike many other writers R. K. Narayan settled down to writing as a way of profession instead of being a job-hunter. He manipulated his inborn talent and flair to reach atop and as such his preferment to a successful authorship was attained. This famous nonagenarian literary figure returned to Chennai and began to live there with his relatives.Like Mulk Raj Anand another profusely multitudinal literary talent and philosopher, critic of modern India, he also inherits the qualities of grumption through his works elevating the minds and moralities. The vastness of the inner-sight which had taken shape in him in his adolescent, flourished, nourished and flamboyant, spreading all about its smell. He had not taken much time to flare the charm of his works, soon he was widely regarded as a great story writer and novelist in English. For his specialisation and intact philosophy he has been crowned with honour as one of the greatest English authors in the twentieth century. This nonagenarian was the only Indian author to have successfully made a career out of writing in English over the past six decades. He published fifteen novels, four collections of short stories, two books on travelling and four collections of essays of various impulses. Before his death he was working on his sixteenth novel. The raconteur is the pioneer of making the short stories over- stating humour and irony intrinsically. His sphere of thought can not be measured in its numbers but in its welcoming charms.
What had greatly influenced his literary life was his bond of friendship with a great British novelist Graham Greene. Their bond of friendship took an embryonic shape in 1935 and reached at the precipice shortly after he had made allies. Their friendship was so deep that it remained intact till Graham’s death in 1990. This friendship was benedictory to both the authors, especially to R. K. Narayan who had the spirit of thoughts to have been expounded world-wide.
R. K. Narayan is known for the extreme simplicity of his plots and characters which revolve round the lives and hopes of average middle and lower class Indians. His stories are centred around an imaginary place called Malgudi. They are told with a quiet realism and with a comic sense. R. K. Narayan’s theme of writing is neither mystic nor phantasmagorie in nature. His thoughts are clear and centring common problems of ordinary life. Eventuality of his writings maintain realism. Trifler and silly things that upset man and jeopardise human peace occupy the important part of his short stories. As a commentator of the tales of the discomfited social beings he runveils the desolate figures and henceforth improves their conditions. His words are straight forward, he avoids rhetorical exaggeration and art of enphemism. Many extrinsic characters by dint of his creative genuineness appear to be eye-catching and any useless trifles scarcely be found there. He loaths surrealism in his masterpieces which expose not only the gloomy faces of the down-trodden but in addition to it the abominable incitement is also focussed.
R. K. Narayan’s achievements in literary field are manifold. He has been crowned with many awards and title in recognition of his contribution to literary world. He received Sahitya Academi Award for his famous novel “The Guide”. This book was published in 1958. It was successfully filmed and earned nationwide popularity. In his life he achieved another great honour by becoming a member of the Royal Society of Literature. Later he became an honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Coinciding with the completion of his ninety years of age Penguin India published a special as well as a limited outline of his autobiographical work, “My Days”. The book may be regarded as the chronicle of the renowned creator’s life. His biography was published by Mr. N. Ram, the Editor of the Frontline and Susan Ram. This book also contains a chronicle of his life and career, interviews and an account of his friendship with Graham Greene. This great writer breathed his last in 2001.
R. K. Narayan’s works are vast and multitude. He started publishing Swami and Friends in 1945. Later on he published fifteen of his novels and several collections of short stories. Among them there are The Bachelor of Arts (1937), The Dark Room (1938), An Astrologer’s Day and other stories (1947), The Financial Expert (1945). The Guide (1958), The Man-eater of Malgudi (1961), The Vendor of Sweets (1967), A Horse and Two Goats (1970), and A Tiger For Malgudi (1983). All of his works have a peculiarly Indian ring about them and are set in the small imaginary town Malgudi. The stories like “The Martyr Corner”. “The Ate”, “Out of Business”, “Snake in The Garden” etc. are among his notable short stories. He seeks realism in his topics but more than this he deals with the mind and behaviour of the typical middle class citizens of the south Indian Urban districts like Madras, Mysore etc. Most of his stories are enriched with the regional flavour and regional dialect which add to the realism. Many of his stories about the fictional south Indian town of Malgudi were adapted into a successful television series “Malgudi Days”.