Mulk Raj Anand

Mulk Raj Anand. South Asian Diaspora Literature and Arts Archive

Location

8 St George's Mews Regent's Park Road
London, NW1 8XE
United Kingdom
51° 32' 26.9484" N, 0° 9' 30.5532" W
Date of birth: 
12 Dec 1905
City of birth: 
Peshawar
Country of birth: 
India
Current name country of birth: 
Pakistan
Date of death: 
28 Sep 2004
Location of death: 
Pune, India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Sep 1925
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1925-45. Trips back to India and elsewhere during this period: 1929 (India), 1930 (Rome, Paris and Vienna to visit art galleries), 1935 (India), 1937 (Spain, three months with the International Brigade in the University Trenches).

About: 

Mulk Raj Anand was a distinguished writer, critic, editor, journalist and political activist. Born into the Kshatriya (warrior) caste in the Punjabi city of Peshawar, he was educated at cantonment schools before completing a degree at the University of Punjab, Amritsar, where his involvement in the 1921 Civil Disobedience campaign against the British resulted in a short period of imprisonment. He was just nineteen years old when he left India for England on a scholarship to mark the silver wedding of George V and Queen Mary. On his arrival he registered at University College London to study for a doctorate in philosophy which he was awarded in 1929.

In England, Anand quickly became involved in left wing politics as well as the Indian independence movement. He was vocal in his support of the coal miners’ strike in 1926 and of the General Strike that followed, and soon afterwards joined a Marxist study circle at the home of the trade unionist Alan Hutt. In the 1930s and 1940s, he spoke regularly at meetings of Krishna Menon’s India League, where he came into contact with a number of British intellectuals and activists including Bertrand Russell, H. N. Brailsford and Michael Foot, and in 1937 he left Britain for three months to join the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. Drawing also on his talents as a writer in the struggle for socialism, Anand wrote numerous essays on Marxism, Fascism, the Spanish Civil War, Indian independence and other political movements, events and issues of the day. He turned down the offer of a post at Cambridge University. Instead, he lectured in literature and philosophy at the London County Council Adult Educational Schools and the Workers' Educational Association, from 1939 to 1942. Anand’s belief in an international socialism, evident in the range of his political activities, was matched by his conviction of the inextricability of politics and literature. This is reflected in many of his novels which depict the lives of the poorest members of Indian society. The first of these, Untouchable, was published by the left-leaning British firm Wishart in 1935. It can also be seen in his role in the founding of the Progressive Writers’ Association in London in 1935, along with fellow Indian writers Sajjad Zaheer and Ahmed Ali.

Anand immersed himself in London’s literary scene in the inter-war years, associating and in some cases forming friendships with eminent British writers including George Orwell, T. S. Eliot, Stephen Spender and Bonamy Dobree. He was a regular reviewer for a range of national newspapers and magazines, including the New Statesman and Life and Letters Today. He also worked as an editor for Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, and for T. S. Eliot at Criterion. It was at Criterion where Anand met E. M. Forster whose endorsement of his first novel helped to secure the publishing deal with Wishart – and so his establishment as a novelist. Prior to this, he had already seen success as an art and literary critic, publishing his first book, on Persian painting, in 1930. Untouchable was followed by a string of novels which were, on the whole, reviewed favourably, as well as several essay collections on subjects ranging from art to cookery to India’s struggle for freedom. During the Second World War, Anand researched, scripted and broadcast numerous radio programmes for the BBC Eastern Service, working alongside George Orwell and the Caribbean poet Una Marson, in particular. In 1938, he married the Communist and would-be actor Kathleen Van Gelder, with whom he had a daughter, Rajani. The marriage did not last.

Soon after his return to India in 1945, Anand founded the art magazine Marg. He taught at various universities, including the University of the Punjab where he was appointed Tagore Professor of Literature and Fine Art. From 1965 to 1970, he was fine art chairman at Lalit Kala Akademi (National Academy of Arts). He continued to write fiction and criticism, and to support a range of national and international cultural associations such as the World Peace Council, the Afro-Asian Writers’ Association, the National Book Trust, and the UNESCO Dialogues of East and West. He died in Pune on 28 September 2004.

Involved in events: 

Meetings of the Indian National Congress, Lahore, 1929

Second Conference of the International Association of Writers for the Defence of Culture, London, 19-23 June 1936

Spanish Civil War (joined International Brigade in 1937)

XVIII International PEN Conference, London, 1941 (delivered plea for independence)

Numerous India League meetings

Published works: 

Persian Painting (London: Faber & Faber, 1930)

Curries and Other Indian Dishes (London: Desmond Harmsworth, 1932)

The Golden Breath: Studies in Five Poets of the New India (London: John Murray, 1933)

The Hindu View of Art (London: Allen & Unwin, 1933)

The Lost Child and Other Stories (London: J. A. Allen & Co., 1934)

The Untouchable (London: Wishart, 1935)

Coolie (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1936)

Two Leaves and a Bud (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1937)

Marx and Engels on India (1937)

The Village (London: Cape, 1939)

Across the Black Waters (London: Cape, 1940)

Letters on India (London: Labour Book Service, 1942)

The Sword and the Sickle (London: Cape, 1942)

The Barber's Trade Union, and Other Stories (London: Cape, 1944)

Big Heart. A Novel (London: Hutchinson, 1945)

Apology for Heroism: An Essay in Search of Faith (London: Lindsay Drummond, 1946)

Indian Fairy Tales (Bombay: Kutub-Popular, 1946)

On Education (Bombay: Hind Kitabs, 1947)

The Tractor and the Corn Goddess, and Other Stories (Bombay: Thacker & Co., 1947)

The King-Emperor's English; or, The Role of the English Language in the Free India (Bombay: Hind Kitabs, 1948)

Lines Written to an Indian Air. Essays (Bombay: Nalanda Publications, 1949)

Seven Summers: The Story of an Indian Childhood (London: Hutchinson, 1951)

The Story of Man (Amritsar and New Delhi: Sikh Publishing House, 1952)

Private Life of an Indian Prince (London: Hutchinson, 1953)

Reflections on the Golden Bed, and Other Stories (Bombay: Current Book House, 1954)

The Dancing Foot (Delhi: Publications Division, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, 1957)

The Power of Darkness and Other Stories (Bombay: Jaico Publishing House, 1959)

The Old Woman and the Cow (Bombay: Kutub-Popular, 1960)

More Indian Fairy Tales (Bombay: Kutub-Popular, 1961)

The Road: A Novel (Bombay: Kutub-Popular, 1961)

Death of a Hero: Epitaph for Maqbool Sherwani: A Novel (Bombay: Kutub-Popular, 1963)

Is There a Contemporary Indian Civilisation? (London and Madras: Asia Publishing House, 1963)

Kama Kala: Some Notes on the Philosophical Basis of Hindu Erotic Sculpture (Geneva: Nagel Publishers, [1958] 1963)

The Story of Chacha Nehru (Delhi: Rajpal & Sons, 1965)

Lajwanti and Other Stories (Bombay: Jaico Publishing House, 1966)

The Humanism of M. K. Gandhi: Three Lectures (Chandigarh: University of Punjab, 1967)

Morning Face. A Novel (Bombay: Kutub Popular, 1968)

Roots and Flowers: Two Lectures on the Metamorphosis of Technique and Content in the Indian-English Novel (Dharwar: Karnatak University, 1972)

Author to Critic: The Letters of Mulk Raj Anand, ed., introduction and notes by Saros Cowasjee (Calcutta: Writers Workshop, 1973)

Between Tears and Laughter (New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 1973)

Folk Tales of Punjab (New Delhi: Sterling, 1974)

Confessions of a Lover (New Delhi: Arnold-Heinemann, 1976)

Gauri (New Delhi: Orient Paperbacks, 1976)

The Humanism of Jawaharlal Nehru (Calcutta: Visva-Bharati, 1978)

The Humanism of Rabindranath Tagore: Three Lectures (Aurangabad Murathwada University, 1978)

Conversations in Bloomsbury (London: Wildwood House, 1981)

The Bubble (New Delhi: Arnold-Heinemann, 1984)

Critical Essays on Indian Writing in English (Bombay: Macmillan, 1972)

The Letters of Mulk Raj Anand, ed. and with an introduction by Saros Cowasjee (Calcutta: Writers Workshop, 1974)

Selected Short Stories of Mulk Raj Anand, ed. and with an introduction by M. K. Naik (New Delhi: Arnold-Heinemann, 1977)

Autobiography (New Delhi: Arnold-Heinemann, 1985-)

Poet-Painter: Paintings by Rabindranath Tagore (New Delhi: Abhinav Publications, 1985)

Pilpali Sahab: The Story of a Big Ego in a Small Boy (London: Aspect, 1990)

Caliban and Gandhi: Letters to "Bapu" from Bombay (New Delhi: Arnold, 1991)

Old Myth and New Myth: Letters from Mulk Raj Anand to K. V. S. Murti (Calcutta: Writers Workshop, 1991)

Anand to Alma: Letters of Mulk Raj Anand, ed. by Atma Ram (Calcutta: Writers Workshop, 1994)

Nine Moods of Bharata: Novel of a Pilgrimage (New Delhi: Arnold Associates, 1998)

'Things Have a Way of Working Out'...and Other Stories (New Delhi: Orient, 1998)

Reflections on a White Elephant (New Delhi: Har-Anand Publications PVT Ltd., 2002)

Contributions to periodicals: 

Congress Socialist

Criterion

Fortnightly Review

Indian Writing

Labour Monthly

Left Review

Life and Letters Today

The Listener

New Statesman and Nation

New Writing

Reynold's Illustrated News

Spectator

Times Literary Supplement

Tribune

Reviews: 

Herbert Read, The Listener, 24 December 1930 (Persian Painting)

R. A. Scott-James, London Mercury 32.187, May 1935 (Untouchable)

John Somerfield, Left Review 1.10, July 1935 (Untouchable)

Peter Burra, Spectator 5635, 26 June 1936 (Coolie)

Peter Quennell, New Statesman and Nation 12.280, 4 July 1936

Cedric Dover, Congress Socialist 1.35, 22 August 1936 (Coolie)

V. S. Pritchett, London Mercury 34.202, August 1936

Ronald Dewsbury, Life and Letters Today 15.5, Autumn 1936 (Coolie)

Edgwell Rickword, Congress Socialist 2.8, 27 February 1937

Arnold Palmer, London Mercury 36.211, May 1937

New Statesman and Nation 14.332, 3 July 1937

L. J. Godwin, Spectator 5695, 20 August 1937 (Two Leaves and a Bud)

Stephen Spender, Life and Letters Today 16.8, Summer 1937 (Two Leaves and a Bud)

Anthony West, New Statesman and Nation 27.425, 15 April 1939 (The Village)

Kate O’Brien, Spectator 5783, 28 April 1939 (The Village)

Bonamy Dobree, Spectator 5865, 22 November 1940 (Across the Black Waters)

Maurice Collis, Time and Tide 21.48, 30 November 1940 (Across the Black Waters)

Kate O’Brien, Spectator 5938, 17 April 1942 (The Sword and the Sickle)

Tullis Clare, Time and Tide 33.17, 25 April 1942 (The Sword and the Sickle)

Times Literary Supplement, 2 May 1942 (The Sword and the Sickle)

George Orwell, The Times Literary Supplement, 23 May 1942 (The Sword and the Sickle)

George Orwell, Horizon, July 1942

George Orwell, Tribune, 19 March 1943

F. J. Brown, Life and Letters Today 47.99, November 1945 (The Big Heart)

S. Menon Marath, Life and Letters Today 59, December 1948

Walter Allen, New Statesman and Nation 46.1174, 5 September 1953
 

Secondary works: 

Abidi, Syed Zaheer Hasan, Mulk Raj Anand's Coolie: A Critical Study (Bareilly: Prakash Book Depot, 1976)

Abidi, S. Z., Mulk Raj Anand's 'Untouchable': A Critical Study (Bareilly: Prakash Book Depot, 1977)

Agnihotri, G. N., Indian Life and Problems in the Novels of Mulk Raj Anand, Raja Rao and R. K. Narayan (Meerut: Shalabh Book House, 1984)

Agrawal, B. R., Mulk Raj Anand (New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, 2006)

Amur, G. S., Forbidden Fruit: Views on Indo-Anglian Fiction (Calcutta: Writers Workshop, 1992) 

Anjaneyulu, T., A Critical Study of the Selected Novels of Mulk Raj Anand, Manohar Malgonkar and Khushwant Singh (New Delhi: Atlantic, 1998)

Arora, Neena, The Novels of Mulk Raj Anand: A Study of His Hero (New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, 2005)

Bhatnagar, Manmohan K. and Rajeshwar, M., The Novels of Mulk Raj Anand: A Critical Study (New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, 2000)

Berry, Margaret, Mulk Raj Anand: The Man and the Novelist (Amsterdam: Oriental Press, 1971) 

Bheemaiah, J., Class and Caste in Literature: The Fiction of Harriet B. Stowe and Mulk Raj Anand (New Delhi: Prestige Books, 2005)

Bluemel, Kristin, George Orwell and the Radical Eccentrics: Intermodernism in Literary London (New York and Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004)

Cowasjee, Saros, Mulk Raj Anand: Coolie: An Assessment (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1976)

Cowasjee, Saros, So Many Freedoms: A Study of the Major Fiction of Mulk Raj Anand (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1977)

Dayal, B., A Critical Study of the Themes and Techniques of the Indo-Anglian Short Story Writers with Special Reference to Mulk Raj Anand, R. K. Narayan and K. A. Abbas (Ranchi: Jubilee Prakashan, 1985)

Dhar, T. N., History-Fiction Interface in Indian English Novel: Mulk Raj Anand, Nayantara Sahgal, Salman Rushdie, Shashi Tharoor, O. V. Vijayan (London: Sangam, 1999)

Dhawan, R. K., The Novels of Mulk Raj Anand (New Delhi: Prestige, 1992)

Fisher, Marlene, The Wisdom of the Heart: A Study of the Works of Mulk Raj Anand (New Delhi: Sterling, 1985)

Gautam, G. L., Mulk Raj Anand's Critique of Religious Fundamentalism: A Critical Assessment of His Novels (Delhi: Kanti Publications, 1996)

George, C. J., Mulk Raj Anand, His Art and Concerns: A Study of His Non-Autobiographical Novels (New Delhi: Atlantic, 1994)

Gupta, G. S. Balarama, Mulk Raj Anand: A Study of His Fiction in Humanist Perspective (Bareilly: Prakash Book Depot, 1974)

Indra Mohan, T. M. J., The Novels of Mulk Raj Anand: A New Critical Spectrum (New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, 2005) 

Jain, Sushil Kumar, An Annotated Bibliography of Dr. Mulk Raj Anand (Regina, Sask, 1965)

Khan, S. A., Mulk Raj Anand: The Novel of Commitment (New Delhi: Atlantic, 2000)

Krishna Rao, Angara Venkata, The Indo-Anglian Novel and the Changing Tradition: A Study of the Novels of Mulk Raj Anand, Kamala Markandaya, R. K. Narayan and Raja Rao, 1930-64 (Mysore: Rao & Raghavan, 1972)

Lindsay, Jack, Mulk Raj Anand: A Critical Essay (Bombay: Hind Kitabs, 1948)

Mishra, Binod, Existential Concerns in Novels of Mulk Raj Anand (Delhi: Adhyayan Publishers & Distributors, 2005)

Naik, M. K., Mulk Raj Anand (London: Arnold-Heinemann India, 1973)

Nasimi, Reza Ahmad, The Language of Mulk Raj Anand, Raja Rao, and R. K. Narayan (Delhi: Capital Publishing House, 1989)

Nautiyal, Sarojani, An Introduction to Three Indo-Anglian Novels: Untouchable, The Serpent and the Rope, The Man-Eater of Malgudi (Ambala: IBA Publications, 2001)

Niven, Alastair, 'Anand, Mulk Raj (1905-2004)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008) [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/93854]

Niven, Alastair, The Yoke of Pity: A Study in the Fictional Writings of Mulk Raj Anand (New Delhi: Arnold-Heinemann, 1978)

Pacham, G., Mulk Raj Anand: A Check-List (Mysore: Centre for Commonwealth Literature and Research, University of Mysore, 1983)

Patil, V. T., Gandhism and Indian English Fiction: The Sword and the Sickle, Kanthapura and Waiting for the Mahatma (Delhi: Devika, 1997)

Paul, Premila, The Novels of Mulk Raj Anand: A Thematic Study (New Delhi: Sterling, 1983)

Prasad, Amar Nath, Critical Response to V. S. Naipaul and Mulk Raj Anand (New Delhi: Sarup & Sons, 2003)

Prasad, Shaileshwar Sati, The Insulted and the Injured: Untouchables, Coolies, and Peasants in the Novels of Mulk Raj Anand (Patna: Janaki Prakashan, 1997)

Rajan, P. K., Studies in Mulk Raj Anand (New Delhi: Abhinav Publications, 1986)

Rajan, P. K., Mulk Raj Anand: A Revaluation (New Delhi: Arnold Associates, 1995)

Savio, G. Dominic, Voices of the Voiceless: Mulk Raj Anand and Jayakanthan: Social Consciousness and Indian Fiction (New Delhi: Prestige Books, 2006)

Sharma, Ambuj Kumar, Gandhian Strain in the Indian English Novel (New Delhi: Sarup, 2004)

Sharma, Ambuj Kumar, The Theme of Exploitation in the Novels of Mulk Raj Anand (New Delhi: H. K. Publishers and Distributors, 1990) 

Sharma, K. K., Four Great Indian English Novelists: Some Points of View (New Delhi: Sarup & Sons, 2002)

Sharma, K. K., Perspectives on Mulk Raj Anand (Ghaziabad: Vimal, 1978) 

Singh, Pramod Kumar, Five Contemporary Indian Novelists: An Anthology of Critical Studies on Mulk Raj Anand, Raja Rao, R. K. Narayan, Kamala Markandaya and Bhabani Bhattacharya (Jaipur: Book Enclave, 2001)

Singh, R. V., Mulk Raj Anand's Shorter Fiction: A Study of His Social Vision (New Delhi: Satyam, 2004)

Singh, Vaidyanath, Social Realism in the Fiction of Dickens and Mulk Raj Anand (New Delhi: Commonwealth Publishers, 1997)

Sinha, Krishna Nandan, Mulk Raj Anand (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1972)

Suresh Kumar, A. V., Six Indian Novelists: Mulk Raj Anand, Raja Rao, R. K. Narayan, Balachandran Rajan, Kamala Markandaya, Anita Desai (New Delhi: Creative Books, 1996)

Suryanarayana Murti, K. V., The Sword and the Sickle: A Study of Mulk Raj Anand's Novels (Mysore: Geetha Book House, 1983)

Thorat, Ashok, Five Great Indian Novel: A Discourse Analysis: Mulk Raj Anand's Untouchable, Raja Rao's Kanthapura, Kushwant Singh's Train to Pakistan, Rama Mehta's Inside the Haveli, Chaman Nahal's Azadi (New Delhi: Prestige, 2000)

Vijayasree, C., Mulk Raj Anand: The Raj and the Writer (New Delhi: B. R., 1998)

Example: 

Anand, Mulk Raj, Across the Black Waters (London: Cape, 1940), pp. 30-1

Content: 

Across the Black Waters is a war novel written from the perspective of Indian sepoys enlisted to fight in the Flanders trenches during the First World War. Drafted partly in Barcelona in 1937 and influenced by Anand’s recent experience of fighting for the Republican cause in Spain, it is one of a trilogy of novels which focuses on peasant (subaltern) experiences of war and changing conditions in early twentieth century India. Across the Black Waters is not often remembered as a ‘British war novel’ but bears significant comparison to E. M. Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage.

Extract: 

Lalu was full of excitement to be going along to this city. The march through Marseilles had been merely a fleeting expedition, and he was obsessed with something which struggled to burst through all the restraints and the embarrassment of the unfamiliar, to break through the fear of the exalted life that the Europeans lived, the rare high life of which he, like all the sepoys, had only had distant glimpses from the holes and crevices in the thick hedges outside the Sahib’s bungalows in India. And, as he walked under the shadows of mansions with shuttered windows like those on the houses of Marseilles, reading the names of shops on the boards, as he walked past vineyards dappled by the pale sun, past stretches of grassy land…his tongue played with the name of this city, Orleans, and there was an echo in his mind, from the memory of something which had happened here, something which he could not remember.

‘A quieter city than Marsels,’ Uncle Kirpu said…

‘Oh! Water, oh there is a stream!’ shouted the sepoys whose impetuosity knew no bounds.

Lalu rushed up and saw the stream on the right, flowing slowly, gently, and shouted:

‘River!’

Everything is small in these parts,’ Kirpu said. ‘Look at their rivers – not bigger than our small nullahs. Their whole land can be crossed in a night’s journey, when it takes two nights and days from the frontier to my village in the district of Kangra. Their rain is like the pissing of a child. And their storms are a mere breeze in the tall grass…’

Relevance: 

The significance of this passage – and the book as a whole – lies in the fact that it favours the viewpoint of the sepoys Anand depicts. The narrative succeeds in reversing the notion of the ‘other’ so that the English sahibs, the French and Europeans (including the landscape they find themselves in, as well as their history) are presented as both alien and exotic. It reveals some of the deceptions of ‘empire’ and the exploitation of the sepoys whose conditions are described in depth, and highlights the need to question enlightenment history and Western authority. The novel also raises issues of translation and disorientation, both for the British reader (the intended audience) and for the characters who have crossed the black waters to Europe.

Archive source: 

BBC Written Archives, Caversham Park, Reading

British Library Sound Archive, St Pancras

Leonard Woolf Archive, University of Sussex Special Collections

Monks House Papers (Virginia Woolf), University of Sussex Special Collections

The George Orwell Archive, University College London

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, US (some publishing papers relating to the publishing history of Untouchable)

India League files, L/PJ/12/448-54, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Papers of Saros Cowasjee, Dr John Archer Library, University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada