Mulk Raj Anand A Reader

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Item Code: IDF241
Author: Atma Ram
Language: English
Edition: 2005
ISBN: 9788126021734
Pages: 679
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.6" X 6.5"
Weight 1.25 kg
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Book Description

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).

Author's Preface

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 noticed.

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 Iqbal.

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 to freedom.

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 higher studies.

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 said:

'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.

Editor's Introduction

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 Bubble (1984).

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 meaningless.

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 revolutionary expressionism.

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 important.'

Author's Preface VII
Editor's Introduction XV
Self-Obituary XVII
The Lost Child 3
The Barber's Trade Union 7
Lullaby 15
The Liar 19
The Cobbler and the Machine 25
A Pair of Mustachios 35
The Tractors and the Corn Goddess 41
The Thief 47
The Parrot in the Cage 55
The Signature 59
Old Bapu 69
The Gold Watch 75
The Price of Bananas 83
Lajwanti 89
The Dreamer 103
Untouchable 109
Coolie 151
Two Leaves and a Bud 189
The Village 217
Across the Black Waters 251
The Sword and the Sickle 279
The Big Heart 313
Seven Summers 345
Private Life of an Indian Prince 375
The Old Woman and the Cow 399
The Road 423
Death of a Hero 447
Morning Face 473
Confession of a Lover 513
The Bubble 599
Apology for Heroism 601
Conversations in Bloomsbury 611
Author to Critic 621
Old Myth and New Myth 624
Anand to Atma 627
An Appraisal by E.M. Forster 635
Select Bibliography 639

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