Saturday, June 02, 2007

Introducing Raja Rao

Claim to fame:
One of the three Indian writers who introduced Indian Writing in English to the world, the other two being Mulk Raj Anand and R K Narayan, a spiritualist, novelist and short story writer.

The person:
He was the original bridge between Indian and the world. Born in Nov 9, 1908, in a Brahmin family in Mysore, he went to Paris for further studies. There he married a French woman and returned to Indian in search of his roots, very much like his protagonist in The Serpent and the Rope. He saw the nationalist movement from the close quarters and began writing. Later he taught at the University of Texas. He passed away in Austin, Texas on July 8, 2006.

The artist:
He spoke Kanada, wrote his post-graduate exams in French and wrote his books in English. Rao viewed his writing as sadhana, a quest for truth; his stories never narrate events, but rather their protagonists’ inner evolution and self-analysis. His masterpiece, The Serpent and the Rope (1960) deals with the metaphysical encounter between India and Europe, and the theme of appearance and reality, seeing the rope as a serpent. But it was Kanthapura (1930) that made his famous, the way Rao merges Indian oral tradition with the English language

The oeuvre:
Kanthapura 1938
The Cow of the Barricades, and Other Stories, 1947
The Serpent and the Rope, 1960
The Cat and Shakespeare: A Tale of India, 1965
Comrade Kirilov, 1976
The Policeman and the Rose: Stories, 1978
The Chessmaster and His Moves, 1988
The Great Indian Way: A Life of Mahatma Gandhi, 1998

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