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Understanding Mulk Raj Anand
His Mind and Art — Critical Essays and Letters
K.D. Verma Understanding Mulk Raj Anand : K.D. Verma : Vision Books : Book (ISBN: 8170949912)
Pages: 260
Price: Rs. 795
Format: Hardcover
ISBN13/10: 9788170949916 / 8170949912
Availability: Yes
Published in 2017
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Table of Contents

UNDERSTANDING MULK RAJ ANAND: HIS MIND AND ART, a collection of critical essays and letters, examines Anand as a novelist, an art critic and a thinker in a broad cultural context of the 20th century critical theories of postmodernism, postcoloniality and new historicism. This study explores the significance of Anand’s 20-year stay in England, especially the making of Anand the novelist, and also of Anand of the post-1945 era. Anand had gone to England for a Ph. D. in philosophy at the University of London, but he stayed in England for twenty years. While in England, he worked for T. S. Eliot and came into close contact with Leonard and Virginia Woolf. Anand was also a good friend of most of the English writers of the twenties and the thirties. As an author of Untouchable, Coolie and several other novels, Anand returned from England as a well-established revolutionary novelist, but his literary and cultural achievements in the post-independence India are no less rewarding. His work on the autobiographical-sociohistorical Seven Ages series is indeed a remarkable achievement, but Anand’s contribution in other allied areas of Indian and Western aesthetics—Anand’s work as a founding editor of Marg, as an art critic and an essayist—is equally significant. Interestingly, Anand’s first novel Untouchable, primarily written in England but finalized under Gandhi’s guidance in India, has a Preface by E. M. Forster. The novel Coolie is said to have been conceived as a response to Kipling’s Kim. Undoubtedly, Anand’s Across the Black Waters of the Lalu Trilogy is the only World War 1 novel written by an Indian. While the first section of Understanding Mulk Raj Anand has six critical essays and an interview with Anand, Section Two has forty-three letters that Anand wrote to the author. These letters reveal Anand’s most powerful and original ideas about Anand the man, the critic and the thinker. As an avid proponent of liberty, equality, social justice, the human values and the truth of the human condition, Anand vehemently and uncompromisingly fought against European / British imperialism and colonialism. Anand firmly believed that India, a rural colony of the British Empire, was not developed.


"K. D. Verma's Understanding Mulk Raj Anand: His Mind and Art is an intelligent and penetrating study of Anand’s thought and aesthetics, one that releases him, finally, from Gandhianism / Communism binary that had long arrested his full appreciation. Setting up his author in a modernist / postcolonial context, Kamal Verma at once alters the perspective of Mulk Raj Anand’s achievement—literary and critical—illuminating the murky areas thus far hidden from view. Understanding Mulk Raj Anand, a persuasive and immensely readable book, is destined to spark off revaluations of Anand’s famous contemporaries, Raja Rao and R. K. Narayan, as well. A true contribution to the understanding of Indian English fiction."  Pradyumna S. Chauhan, Prof English & Editor, South Asian Review, Arcadia University

"Understanding Mulk Raj Anand is a ground breaking work. By placing Anand’s fiction in a broad sociohistorical context, Verma has ruffled feathers of those who wish us to believe that little new remains to be said about this author. It is a very timely book that opens up new vistas and one certainly to become forerunner of studies of Anand yet to come. Indeed, this slim volume is a boon to research students."  Saros Cowasjee, Professor Emeritus of English, University of Regina

"K. D. Verma, longtime editor of the indispensable South Asian Review, has written an indispensable book. Understanding Mulk Raj Anand: His Mind and Art is a magisterial synthesis of Professor Verma’s three decades of scholarship on almost every aspect of Anand’s work. It offers a comprehensive view of Anand as a novelist, autobiographer, philosopher, art critic, and activist. No contemporary critic in India or elsewhere knows Anand’s work better than Kamal Verma. His book not only includes essays on Anand’s literary and aesthetic achievements but also an invaluably candid interview with Anand, and a unique collection of Anand’s living and revealing letters to the author. Understanding Mulk Raj Anand is an essential reading for anyone seeking to understand 20th century Indian writing."  Judith Plotz, Professor Emerita of English, George Washington University

"Shedding new light on the life and work of Mulk Raj Anand, Verma’s study will spur new interest and scholarship. It is clearly the most important contribution to Anand studies in the last ten-fifteen years."  Makarand R. Paranjape, Professor of English, Jawaharlal Nehru University

"Splendidly conceived, Verma's book is an intellectual engagement with Mulk Raj Anand, the man and the revolutionary writer. Engaging and humane, it is firmly grounded in critical theory both in historical and political terms. Vividly detailed in presenting Anand, the study refrains from being exhaustive or reductive. A brilliant study of one of India’s foremost writers, it will have a deep impact on the future of Indian writing in English."  Rumina Sethi, Professor and Chair of English & Editor, Dialog, Panjab University

"K. D. Verma has shown unparalleled insights into the postmodern / postcolonial vision of Mulk Raj Anand that highlights the notions of social justice, political fairness and educational parity for all. The breadth and depth of Verma’s treatment, in the large context of critical traditions and the corpus of literary and cultural references, is not found anywhere in critical assessment of Anand’s works. The analysis of Anand’s selected novels and works on aesthetics is remarkably comprehensive and richly rewarding."  Inder Nath Kher, Professor Emeritus of English, The University of Calgary

"Professor K. D. Verma’s book on Mulk Raj Anand presents a refreshingly new approach to a much loved author. The point about the Untouchable being much more than a story set in the Indian caste system of a certain time is convincingly argued. Moreover. Anand’s writing in the pre-1945 and post-1945 periods opens up possibilities for research on Nehru and Gandhi in relation to Anand’s fictional depictions. The legacy of colonialism in independent India is contextualized within the larger arena of humanitarianism that was primary for Anand. K. D. Verma’s sharp vision, deep research and personal correspondence with Anand reveal unexpected readings of classic texts and introduce valuable new material."  Malashri Lal, Professor of English, Delhi University

K.D. Verma

A scholar of English Romanticism and South Asian Literature, K. D. Verma is Professor Emeritus of English, University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown. Amongst his publications are The Vision of “Love’s Rare Universe”: A Study of Shelley’s Epipsychidion (1995), The Indian Imagination: Critical Essays on Indian Writing in English (2000) and numerous articles. He was Editor of the South Asian Review, the refereed journal of the South Asian Literary Association, for thirteen years. He guestedited a special number of the Journal of South Asian Literature devoted to Aurobindo Ghosh.

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