Middle-period novels: <i>Mr Sampath</i> to <i>Waiting for the Mahatma</i>

John Thieme

in R. K. Narayan

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780719059261
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701249 | DOI:
Middle-period novels: Mr Sampath to Waiting for the Mahatma

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Beginning with Mr Sampath: The Printer of Malgudi (1949) and culminating with The Painter of Signs (1976), the novels of R. K. Narayan's middle period represent his finest achievement. The protagonists of these novels are usually small businessmen in the second asrama of life, whose occupations are contemporary versions of the scribal and priestly roles traditionally undertaken by Tamil brahmins. Narayan's other works include The Guide (1958), Waiting for the Mahatma (1955), The Financial Expert (1952) and The Vendor of Sweets (1967). Though their particular subjects and angles of focalisation vary, the recurrent concern of the middle-period novels is an exploration of the conflicts that occur when seemingly settled Hindu values, usually personified by the protagonist, are challenged by the incursion of alien forces. These novels also demonstrate an investigative approach to the narrativisation of Malgudi.

Keywords: Printer of Malgudi; Painter of Signs; novels; R. K. Narayan; asrama; brahmins; Waiting for Mahatma; Hindu values; Malgudi

Chapter.  12168 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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