From the Jacket:
Mulk Raj Anand (1905-2004) was an Indian English writer of world repute. His first ten books were from London. He has over 22 books of fiction and a large number of publications on art, education and culture, and thousands of letters. Although considerable research on Anand has been done and numerous critiques have appeared, there is hardly any book that carries a careful selection from his writings. Only three volumes have been published. Some of his works have gone out of print.
Mulk Raj Anand: A Reader is the first attempt of its kind to fill this gap and introduce the author to a large readership. It offers in one volume representative selections from his writings. Here is an earnest endeavour to give a "feel" of his immortal art and vision. Besides the Editor's introduction and Author's (freshly written) preface, and a self-obituary by Mulk Raj Anand, the Reader contains four sections. It opens with 'The Lost Child' and records, in all, 15 short stories. Then selections from 15 novels have been given. Two samples of his discursive prose are presented: one each from 'Apology for Heroism' and 'Conversations in Bloomsbury'. The final part carries four letters of Anand, culled from three anthologies of letters. The Appendices comprises a telling example of literary comment on the novelist E.M. Forster's perceptive preface to Untouchable (1935) and a select Bibliography. A brief note to the Editor follows each section. Mulk Raj Anand himself had kindly provided consistent guidance for the ambitious project while alive and his valuable suggestions have been gratefully incorporated.
About the Author:
Dr. Atma Ram (b. 1937), academician, educationist, administrator and writer, has taught English Language and Literature and guided research in colleges and the English Department of Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla, for over three decades and served as principal, Govt. College for ten years. He has to his credit over three dozen books, and 300 articles/papers. His major publications (in English) include; Women in India Short Stories (2003), India: Fifty Years of Education (1998), Education for the Poor (1997), Education for Development (1995), Woman as a Novelist; A Study of Jane Austen (1989), Heroines in Jane Austen (1982), and edited books include: National Policy on Education; An Overview (1994), Anand to Atma: Letters of Mulk Raj Anand and three volumes of interviews with Indian English writers among others. He has received the Order of People's National Award (1984), Distinguished Leadership Award 1986 (USA) and the Himachal Pradesh Sahitya Academy Award (1983).
As I look back to the beginnings of my wish to write novels, poems and
stories, I recall naive verges of my first impulses to be a poet.
In text books for fifth primary class was a poem in Urdu language:
Suverey jo kal ankh meri khuli' (In the morning when my eyes opened. ... .)
The poet described his vision of dew on tips of grass, growing under
the first rays of the sun.
I too had seen dew on flowers in our garden. So I recited the
poet's verses in the text book from sheer delight to my companions, about
vision of miracle of dew on grass which they may also have seen but not
As I grew lip I found my father reading many volumes of a novel entitled
Mysteries of the Court of London. My father concealed that book after reading
some pages every day. I found the hiding place of the book in a shelf which
was out of my reach, until 1 stood on a stool. The novelist described the hero
kissing the heroine, Olivia, in ten pages. I realised why my father did not
want me to read Reynold's novel. But I would take that novel to the busstand
and read some pages on Sunday afternoons when my father went to play
hockey. I realised that in England men married women after kissing them. I
admired author Reynold for his writing ten pages about a kiss.
I also read novels by writers Rider Haggard and Marie Correli, which
my father brought for reading from the Officer's Mess. These readings may
have left a tendency in me to write long sentences. I naively felt that I would,
one day, write poems like those in our school text books.
Later I read poems in Persian language by our national poet, Mohammad
As our professor for Persian literature took us to meet poet Iqbal and
the great man encouraged us to write our own poems, I thought of writing
about Gautama Buddha, Prince, who had left his father's palace, and searched
for answers to questions of how the world came to be?
About the time when I become a graduate there came to our college
eminent Englishwoman Annie Besant, who had adopted India as her home,
and became leader in the Indian National Movement for freedom from British
rule. She had come to Amritsar as a pilgrim to the shrine of innocent martyrs
of shooting by General Dyer's Gurkha Platoon, on a gathering of people for
spring festival in Jallianwalla Bagh, near the Golden Temple, Amritsar. Our
Principal Mr. Wathen invited her to speak to us. She lectured on Gandhi's
non-violent non-cooperation movement. She condemned General Dyer for
opening fire on the meeting and prophesied that India will win freedom not
by arms but by Mahatma Gandhi's unique way of non-violent non-cooperation.
She recalled the Indian tradition of bold thoughts. And she recited Hymn of
Creation from Rig Veda in which the bard had wondered how the world
came to be. From water? Fire? Air? or had God made it? She said that Vedic
Hymn of Creation was the first bold questioning about beginnings. She recited
that hymn both in Sanskrit and in English.
I, who was a student of philosophy, was deeply moved by Mrs. Besant's
recitation. I decided to read all answers to question of how the world began,
specially by European philosophers to whom she had referred.
When she went away, British Indian Government punished our Principal,
Mr. Wathen, by retiring him from Imperial Education Service. We students
went on a strike in protest. The strike became violent. Police beat students
with staves. I was sent to jail for a month for taking part in the strike. When
I came out of prison, my father, who was an officer in the British Indian
army, blamed my mother for encouraging me to rebel against the Sarkar.
I decided to leave home, like Gautama, and go to Britain, to join the
University of London and become a disciple ofMr. Bertrand Russell, philosopher,
who, though an aristocrat, had after Mrs. Besant, become President of India
League, in London, for propaganda in the cause of Indian Freedom.
I told poet Iqbal about my ambition to follow his way to go to study
philosophy in Europe. He gave me one hundred rupees. Our new principal,
Lala Manmohan, gave me one hundred and one rupees. My mother wept but
gave me three hundred rupees, saved by her from housekeeping. I left home
for Bombay, without telling my father. In that port town I booked a passage
to London by an Italian ship SS Victoria with the help of Mr. Horniman,
Editor of the Indian paper Bombay Chronicle, sympathiser of lndian aspiration
Nervous, yet ardent, I began to ask the sea, sky and air, the ultimate
question about how the world came to be?
On arrival in London, forlorn, nervous, I dared to approach Prof. Dawes
Hicks, in University College, London, for admission to research for Ph.D
degree. He smiled at my confession that 1 was interested in the question of
how the world began? He accepted me, tentatively, for possible research into
the problem of how we know things. And sensing my situation that I had no
money, he suggested that I apply for a scholarship from the Trust, formed on
occasion of the 25th year of marriage of King George and Queen Mary. This
scholarship was offered to sons of military officers to enable them to pursue
At the same time, I dared to write to Lord Russell, who was a Fellow of
Trinity College Cambridge, politically forward as Head of India League,
agitating for freedom for India from British rule. Lord Russell wrote asking
me to come to see him in Cambridge. He encouraged me and advised me to
read history of Western thought, as also work for Indian Freedom.
In spite of encouragement from Prof. Hicks and Lord Russell, I felt
uneasy in exile in U .K., where people of black and brown colour were shunned.
Forelorn, unable to sleep, one night, I recalled a verse of sage Nanak which
'We are all children lost in the world fair.'
I got up and wrote my first ever story' 'Lost Child" that night about an
incident when I had got lost in a Baisakhi spring fair in a village on the banks
of river Seas in Kangra Valley of north Punjab.
In 1934, a young despondent Mulk Raj Anand was wandering in the
streets of London. He happened to enter a bookshop and casually looked at
some of the new titles. He picked up an impressive volume entitled World's
Great Short Stories published by Odham Press, London. As he opened it, his
joy was beyond bounds, since the first story included in the 'selection' was
his own 'The Lost Child'. Written in 1928 and first published in 1929, with
location at the famous Kaleshar Mahadev in Kangra Valley, Himachal
Pradesh, it describes how a child is separated from his parents in a May fair
there -, Mulk Raj Anand used to see the fair every year as long as he could
drive. In 1986, when he visited Himachal for a ten-day tour as part of the
'Writers in Residence Scheme' of Himachal Pradesh Academy, he was quite
late to reach Dharamshala. On enquiry, his artist-colleague, Dolly Sahiar,
explained that he had gone to see the Baisakhi fair at Kaleswar and was
himself lost there. It took them some time to trace him.
Encouraged by the reputation of 'The Lost Child', Mulk Raj Anand
published from London at great speed the first eleven of his books, were
issued in quick succession from there, and thereafter he had been creatively
active for over 75 years. He completed 95 years of his life on 12 December
1999, and was determined to finish the seven-volume self-research novel.
Indeed, his literary output is immense-around 20 novels, seven collections
of short stories, two anthologies of stories retold, and a large number of books
on education, literature and art.
Mulk Raj Anand was born to Rai Sahib Subedar Lall Chand, M.S.S.
(Later 2117th Dogras) on 12 December 1905 at Peshawar (now in Pakistan).
He was precocious and sensitive right from his childhood. He came in contact
with many persons as the regiment of his father continued moving. He was
educated at Khalsa College, Amritsar (Panjab University), 1921-24, University
College London, 1926-29, and Cambridge University 1929-30. As his
'Chronology' appended to my "Mulk Raj Anand: A Home Appraisal' indicates,
Anand helped and interacted with numerous people and had been deeply
associated in the various national and international movements and
institutions. One of his absorbing interests have been art and painting. He has
been editor of the art magazine, Marg, the President of Lokayata Trust, Art
Chairman of Lalit Kala Academy, etc. As the then Prime Minister of lndia,
Mrs. Indira Gandhi pointed out in early June 1981, while releasing the
Maharaja Ranjit Singh issue of Marg, "Dr. Anand has been awarded the
Padma Bhushan for services he has rendered to Art."
Anand's novels include: Untouchable (1935), Coolie (1936), Two Leaves
and a Bud (1937), The Village (1937), Lament on the Death a Master of Arts
(1938), Across the Black Waters (1940), The Sword and the Sickle (1942),
The Big Heart (1945), Seven Summers (1951), Private Life of an Indian Prince
(1953), The Old Woman and the Cow (1960), The Road (1963), Death of a
Hero (1964), Morning Face (1968), Confession of a Lover (1976) and The
His major anthologies of shorter fiction include - The Lost Child and
Other Stories (1934), The Barber's Trade Union and Other Stories (1944),
Indian Fairy Tales (Retold) 1946, The Tractor and the Corn Goddess and
Other Stories (1947), Reflections on the Golden Bed and Other Stories (1954),
Selected Stones (Moscow, 1955), The Power of Darkness and Other Stories
(1959), Aesop's Fables (Retold, 1961), Lajwanti and Other Stories (1966),
Between Tears and Laughter (1973), and Folk Tales of Punjab (1974).
Mulk Raj Anand's one major preoccupation was letter-writing. He has
written thousands of letters, many of which contain telling comments on his
art and craft. There are around 100 boxes of them, we are told. So far, three
'Collections' from his letters have been published: Author to Critic (1973)
by S. Cowasjee, Old Myth and New Myth (1992) by K. V .S. Murti, and 'Anand
to Atma' (1994) by the present writer.
Mulk Raj Anand is known all over the world for his robust humanism,
peasant sensibility, compassion and forthright outlook. He attacks evil of all
sorts, and, like G.B. Shaw, seeks to convert people to his viewpoint in his
fiction of revolt through his anti-tradition stance. The Anand - hero often
confronts a hostile and unhealthy environment in conservative society. In
Untouchable, caste is the evil, while in Coolie and Two leaves and a Bud, the
evil manifests itself in social injustice and exploitation. Lalu revolts
against the prevailing superstition and exploitaton in 'The Village', whereas
in 'Across The Black Waters', the writer condemns war in unambiguous terms.
For the novelist, political freedom without the transformation of hearts is
The over-all pattern of self-discovery embodied in his fiction is both
conistent and convincing. In all this, he has shown astounding candour and
courage, force of conviction and steadiness. His writings published before
the independence of lndia, that too from London, particularly indicate this in
great measure. In that era, to raise a banner of revolt against British
imperialism, caste ism, fatalism, etc. as in Two Leave and a Bud, Coolie, the
Lalu Triology, so on, required the courage of a giant like Mulk Raj Anand. A
character Subedar in The VIllage says: "Oh, 1 won't fight! 1 will not fight for
this dirty Sarkar. /I His works written after 1947, present a powerful portrait
of the postindependence India. In fact, Anand's writings finely reflect more
than six decades of life and movements in the country.
The grand old man, uncle Anand, was indeed an epitome of lndia of the
Twentieth Century. He was fully mentally alert and keen to go on and on
with admirable zeal and zest till the least. As he observed in July 1997 (to the
present writer. "At 91, soon to be 92, I must keep my promises to myself."
As a child, Anand was very sensitive to the sufferings around. In Apology
jor Heroism, he tells us how he became critical of hackneyed traditions and
false values. He was a precocious child, keenly aware of the disharmony in
his father's family. His philosophic turn of mind ever sought a rational
explanation or justification of everything, every phenomenon around, and
when he found none, he revolted against social evils and hollow practices.
For example, he could not find any justification for his cousin, Kaushalya's
death in childhood. He remarked: "God has been dead a long time. Men are
gods or can become gods". The suffering of people pricked his conscience,
and he raised a voice of protest against social evils, exploitation, superstition
and fatalism. In Anand, one finds transformation of romanticism with
Writing consistently for over seven decades, Anand covered vast areas
of experience in his fictional works. A day in the life of a scavenger
(Untouchable); a peasant boy seeking work in the city and ending up pulling
a hand-rickshaw in Shimla (Coolie); a deplorable lot of indentured labourers
on British-owned tea-plantations in Assam (Two Leaves and a Bud); an
unemployed, educated youngman dying of tuberculosis, recalling his life
( I ament on the Death of a Master of Arts); life of a Sikh peasant in the early
twentieth century-his experiences in his village (The Village), the adventures
of the hero as a soldier serving in France during World War I (Across the
Black Waters), and his return to his Punjabi village and his tireless efforts to
conform to a changing peasant-life (The Sword and the Sickle); disturbance
in a community of coppersmiths when a small fabricating factory is started
(The Big Heart); the impact of the independence of India on the life-pattern
of a prince, a debauch Maharaja (The Private life of an Indian Prince); a
modern version of Sit a (The Old Woman and the Cow); turmoil in a Punjabi
village when untouchable are hired to construct a road (The Road); experiences
or a freedom-fighter who died in Kashmir in 1947 (Death of a Hero).
In 1926, Anand fell in love with Irene (in North Wales) and wrote for
her a 2000-page Confessional. This served as a resource book for his
autobiographical novels begun in 1946. He devised a series of seven
autobiographical novels called Seven Ages of Man. Here the gaze is turned
inward and through the fictional hero (Krishan Chand Azad), the writer tries
to trace the growth and development of his mind and vision. Four volumes in
the series appeared and the work on the fifth (And So He Played His Part')
continued till cruel death snatched him from us. A small boy looks on social
life and customs in the pre- World War I Punjab (Seven Summers); the hero
spends his boyhood at the beginning of the Gandhian era (Morning Face);
the hero's college years and first love are described with great gusto
(Confession of a Lover); about a year and half in the hero's life in England
where he has gone to do his Doctorate (The Bubble). These novels (read with
non-fictional works like Apology for Heroism, and Conversations in
Bloomsbury) provide a glimpse of the making of a novelist in Mulk Raj Anand.
Anand's letters show his deep empathy for the poor and the distressed,
a life-long passion for painting and keenness to help writers and friends, a
sustained interest in Indian English, his liking for Himachal Pradesh (termed
as his second home), hill people, enchanting nature, and, above all, his
commitment to I iteracy movements and education of children of disadvantaged
sections of society. "I hope one day I can come and see your Navodaya
Schools", he observed in July 1992. In August, 1994, he stressed the need for
total literacy. His advice in this context is also terse and telling: 'Currently,
if you could achieve full literacy in Himachal that will be a unique contribution.
In this, the example of Kerala, where I was patron ofthe campaign, will be
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