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English teacher

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English Teacher, a novel by RK Narayan

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English teacher

  1. 1. R.K. NARAYANAN P.S. Emmanuel
  2. 2. The Author Rasipuram Krishnaswami Narayanaswami, popularly known as R.K. Narayan (1906-2001) One of the finest Indian authors of his generation writing in English. He is credited with bringing Indian literature in English to the rest of the world, and is regarded as one of India's greatest English language novelists. His stories were simple, fictional and celebrated the humor and energy of ordinary life. February 15, 2016 PS Emmanuel 2
  3. 3. Works & Achievements Thirty-four novels Best works: The English Teacher (1945), Waiting for the Mahatma (1955), The Guide (1958), The Man-Eater of Malgudi (1961), The Vendor of Sweets (1967), A Tiger for Malgudi (1983) Published shortened modern prose versions of two Indian epics, The Ramayana (1972) and The Mahabharata (1978). February 15, 2016 PS Emmanuel 3
  4. 4.  Sahitya Akademi Award for The Guide (1958)  Padma Bhushan (1964)  AC Benson Medal by the (British) Royal Society of Literature (1980) Nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature multiple times Nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1989 February 15, 2016 PS Emmanuel 4
  5. 5. The Novel  Published in 1945  Third of the trilogy (Swami and Friends, The Bachelor of Arts)  Republished in 1953 under the title Grateful to Life and Death  Autobiographical  Series of experiences in Krishna’s life – joys and sorrows, journey towards achieving inner peace and self-development. February 15, 2016 PS Emmanuel 5
  6. 6. Characters  Krishna – The English Teacher  Susila – Krishna’s wife  Leela – Daughter of Krishna and Susila  The Headmaster  Doctor and Swamiji February 15, 2016 PS Emmanuel 6
  7. 7. Fact Fiction  Narayan’s wife Rajam died of typhoid which deeply affected him.  Narayan was concerned for their daughter Hema, who was only three years old.  Narayan was obsessed by the thought of communicating with her.  Knowledge and appreciation of English Literature.  Distaste for teaching uninterested Indian students.  Krishna’s wife Susila died of typhoid after five years of marriage  Krishna too was worried about Leela’s upbringing.  Krishna communicates to his deceased wife.  Knowledge and appreciation of English Literature  Distaste for teaching uninterested Indian students Autobiographical Elements February 15, 2016PS Emmanuel 7
  8. 8.  The title itself suggests the influence of the unwelcome British ruler.  By the end of the novel Krishna realizes that his profession as an English teacher is worthless.  “I could no longer stuff Shakespeare and Elizabethan metre and Romantic poetry for the hundredth time into young minds…. This education had reduced us to a nation of morons; we are strangers to our own culture and camp followers of another culture, feeding on leaves and garbage”. February 15, 2016PS Emmanuel 8
  9. 9. From predictability to unpredictability  Krishna is aroused from his predictable life at school to the unexpected news that his wife and child are coming to join him.  Susila’s unpredictability: gets stuck in a contaminated lavatory and becomes ill  Doctor’s prediction that Susila will get well February 15, 2016 PS Emmanuel 9
  10. 10. From the academic world to the ‘Law of life’  The novel opens with Krishna reading ‘for the fiftieth time, Milton, Carlye and Shakespeare’.  Discovers that ordinary people encounter the big issues of life and death not in the perspective of philosophy and literature, but in everyday experience  Literature, philosophy and rationalism are of no use to him in coming to terms with his wife’s death.  The law of life cannot be avoided. It comes into operation the moment we detach ourselves from our mother’s womb. February 15, 2016 PS Emmanuel 10
  11. 11. From adulthood to childhood  In the college, he is with the boys. But they are adults already entangled from the system he needs to escape.  Children show him the way: Leela, his daughter. Children at the nursery school(Leave Alone System) February 15, 2016 PS Emmanuel 11
  12. 12. From West to East  Coexistence of western and native cultural attitudes.  Juxtaposition of English and native cultures  Western intellectual frame of mind to native Indian spiritual practice.  Susila is treated by a doctor and by Swamiji (Western scientific medicine and mystical method of healing)  The street where the headmaster lives is Anderson Street, but poor sanitation with wild looking children rolling in the dust.  Communication with the spirit of his departed wife. February 15, 2016 PS Emmanuel 12
  13. 13. Critical Comments Harish Raizada: It depicts man as bearing ‘the sweet and bitter fruits of life’. K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar: The description of Krishna’s married life- the first few years of happiness, the excruciating agony during the weeks of Susila’s illness, the ‘last journey’ to the cremation ground- is one of the most moving and flawless pieces of writing in modern English fiction. Not a word is wasted and not word rings false. However the second part of the novel takes us to unfamiliar regions. Prof. P.S. Sundaran: The English teacher is a novel with a difference, not only in the type of love between Krishna and Susila that is depicted, but also in the author’s bold excursion into the realms of the dead. February 15, 2016 PS Emmanuel 13

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