A Tribute to Raja Rao’s Kanthapura

kanthapuraAmong India’s one of the early English novelists, Raja Rao’s name would always be written in golden letters. Raja Rao penned his first novel Kanthapura in 1932. Interestingly he wrote it at a time when English was a foreign language. But he broke all barriers and set the new trends by including Indian myths, archetypes,  idioms and sayings in the novel. The assimilation was so nice that many readers for the first time felt that English can be a powerful medium to express and voice the opinions. In other words, Rao paved the way for many authors to come forward and write freely in English.

This novel goes beyond the popular trend among most English writers whose favorite subject was to highlight the British lifestyle in their writings. This was a landmark work that contributed in India’s struggle for freedom, although a few picked the copies. This novel became a cult as it beautifully portrays the struggle for Independence in a small part of the country. In short, Kanthapura is the story of how Mahatma Gandhi’s struggle for independence from the British came to a typical village called Kanthapura, in South India. The story interestingly covers the social conflicts irking the Indian society for centuries. For any Indian student of the English Literature, this novel will give a fair idea of how the Indian English literature began, gained acceptance and evolved.

Today, there are copies of the novel that give tons of notes from professors and experts explaining the myths and milieus in the novel. You can pick any edition to nurture your mind.

Recognised as “a major novelist of our age”, Raja Rao has written five novels—Kanthapura (1932),  The Serpent and the Rope (1960)The Cat and Shakespeare (1965), Comrade Kirillov (1976) and The Chessmaster and His Moves(1988). He has also penned three collections of short stories—The Cow of the Barricades and Other Stories (1947), The Policeman and the Rose (1978) and On the Ganga.

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