MODERNITY IN A TRADITIONAL SOCIETY: A REFLECTION ON R. K. NARAYAN’S THE GUIDE

Priyanka Roy

Abstract


Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami popularly known as R. K. Narayan is one of the most important figures of Indian writing in English and one of the pioneers of Indian fiction in English. Starting with his first novel Swami and Friends published in 1935, Narayan has contributed immensely towards Indian fiction writing. Like most Indian writers, Narayan’s writing too revolves around the nuances of the Indian family and society. Narayan’s novels tell tales of the common Indian individual located in and around Malgudi. Narayan’s Malgudi is famous because of its representative nature. Malgudi is fictional but smells ,tastes and sounds like any common Indian town of the 1940s-70s. The Guide is Narayan’s award-wining text. Narayan achieved the 1960 Sahitya Akademi Award for the novel. The novel portrays the stories of individuals caught between a society rooted deep in traditional values, superstitions and believes and the newly developing ideas influenced by the arrival of Western modernity. The conflict between the older and the new values, ideals and believes is very prominent in the novel’s narration. In this fusion of the two sets of ideals and lifestyles, the characters point towards the social issues, situations and challenges to survival faced by India as a whole in its progress towards Western modernity. This paper attempts to discuss such issues through a study of the main male character Raju and his life as portrayed in the novel. Raju can be considered as the average Indian in contact with the new modern concepts of life and survival.

Keywords


Indian, Tradition, Modernity, Society, Literature

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References


Berman, Marshall. (1988): All That is Solid Melts into Air: the Experience of Modernity, Penguin Books, England.

Dominic, K. V. (n.d.): The Conflict between Tradition and Modernity in R. K. Narayan’s The Guide, available at http://www.profkvdominic.com/?page_id=408, accessed 21 May, 2017.

Narayan, R. K. (2013): The Guide, Indian Thought Publications, Chennai.

Soule, Arun. (2003): The Evolution of The Guide: The Individual-Society Equation in the Indian and the Western Contexts, in: Indian writing in English: Perspectives, Jaya Chakravorty. (ed.), Atlantic Publishers and Distributors. New Delhi, pp. 29-33.

Tagore, Rabindranath. (1950): Nationalism, Macmillan India Ltd., New Delhi.


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