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Swami and Friends, the Bachekor of Arts, the Dark Room, the English (Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics) [Hardcover]

R. K. Narayan , Alexander McCall Smith
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Mar 2006 Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics

 

R. K. Narayan (1906—2001) witnessed nearly a century of change in his native India and captured it in fiction of uncommon warmth and vibrancy. The four novels collected here, all written during British rule, bring colonial India into intimate focus through the narrative gifts of this master of literary realism.

 

Swami and Friends introduces us to Narayan’s beloved fictional town of Malgudi, where ten-year-old Swaminathan’s excitement about his country’s initial stirrings for independence competes with his ardor for cricket and all other things British. The Bachelor of Arts is a poignant coming-of-age novel about a young man flush with first love, but whose freedom to pursue it is hindered by the fixed ideas of his traditional Hindu family. In The Dark Room, Narayan’s portrait of aggrieved domesticity, the docile and obedient Savitri, like many Malgudi women, is torn between submitting to her husband’s humiliations and trying to escape them. The title character in The English Teacher, Narayan’s most autobiographical novel, searches for meaning when the death of his young wife deprives him of his greatest source of happiness.

 

These pioneering novels, luminous in their detail and refreshingly free of artifice, are a gift to twentieth-century literature.

(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)


Frequently Bought Together

Swami and Friends, the Bachekor of Arts, the Dark Room, the English (Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics) + R K Narayan Omnibus Volume 2: Including Mr Sampath * The Financial Expert * Waiting For Mahatma: v, 2 + Malgudi Days: Short Stories from "An Astrologer's Day" and from "Lawleyroad"; and Also Inc (Penguin Classics)
Price For All Three: 35.00

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 648 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman's Library (1 Mar 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400044766
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400044764
  • Product Dimensions: 3.6 x 13.2 x 20.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,162,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Narayan wakes in me a spring of gratitude, for he has offered me a second home. Without him I could never have known what it is like to be Indian." (Graham Greene)

"Narayan's humour and compassion come from a deep universal well, with the result that he has transformed his imaginary township of Malgudi into a bubbling parish of the world." (The Observer)

"An idyll as delicious as anything I have met in modern literature for a long time. The atmosphere and texture of happiness, and, above all, its elusiveness, have seldom been so perfectly transcribed." (Elizabeth Bowen) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Book Description

The four novels collected here, all written during British rule, bring colonial India into intimate focus through the narrative gifts of this master of literary realism. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book - Will be a treasure for life time 23 May 2006
Format:Hardcover
R K Naryan was a rare Gem in the literary world. All his books are excellent and must read for anybody who can read English.

Its specially nice for people who would like to know what Rural India was.. The relationships, the environment, the society - each and every aspect is explained in such an amazing and interesting way that you feel you are there when things are happening - you are transformed to places and situations.

Even if you are not interested in India, still its a great read. The way Narayan handles the language is must read to believe. You would have never imagined that simple stories and sitatuation's can be explained so beautifully.

Once you start reading the book you cannot stop infact you will end up reading the books again and again as i do ( which i do not do with any other books )

Its highly recommended to buy all the Novels / Books of R K Narayan
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book - Treasure for lifetime 23 May 2006
Format:Hardcover
R K Naryan was a rare Gem in the literary world. All his books are excellent and must read for anybody who can read English.

Its specially nice for people who would like to know what Rural India was.. The relationships, the environment, the society - each and every aspect is explained in such an amazing and interesting way that you feel you are there when things are happening - you are transformed to places and situations.

Even if you are not interested in India, still its a great read. The way Narayan handles the language is must read to believe. You would have never imagined that simple stories and sitatuation's can be explained so beautifully.

Once you start reading the book you cannot stop infact you will end up reading the books again and again as i do ( which i do not do with any other books )

Its highly recommended to buy all the Novels / Books of R K Narayan

Srini Guru
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost gets full marks 5 Jan 2011
By Rusty
Format:Hardcover
The first three novels in this collection are bright and breezy but still manage to tackle difficult themes (in "Swami & Friends" it's colonial rule, in "The Bachelor of Arts" it's the social codes of Hinduism, in "The Dark Room" it's the oppression of women). They're very well written and I enjoyed each one immensely, although they do tend to end rather abruptly with no real sense of closure.

The fourth novel, "The English Teacher", is generally seen as Narayan's turning point when his literary talents really started taking off... but strangely, I enjoyed this book the least. Although it's a thoughtful story and deals with death/mourning in a very heartfelt way, I found the supernatural element to be silly and nave (caution, a spoiler's coming up).

I thought the old man who could communicate with spirits would be revealed as a fraudster who preyed upon grieving families, but when it becomes clear that he's not faking it... and that Narayan expects us to believe that Susila is genuinely giving lessons in telepathy from beyond the grave... the novel went downhill, in my eyes. Maybe this unquestioning belief in the spirit realm was perfectly normal for an Indian audience in 1945 - but I, as an Englishman in 2011, found it faintly ridiculous.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Journey to Malgudi - and be prepared to stay a while. 23 April 2009
By Dick Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book contains four novellas. In reality it is 2400 pages in only 600. While many writers take twenty pages to write what should have taken up no more than ten, Narayan took those ten pages and wrote them better in five.

He draws you into the world of his characters so quickly and thoroughly you are amazed that so much was told in such a small space. Each of these four novellas take place in Malguti, a fictional town in South India. Narayan wrote these in the 1930's and 40's, While it would be helpful to have some knowledge of the India at that time, it isn't required to enjoy his writing. This Everyman's Library edition has a time line of his career along with world and literary events for each time period. This was most helpful as an introduction to Narayan's works.

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Swami and Friends: This is an example of "boys will be boys" no matter where they live. They can be studious or laggard; helpful or cruel; friendly or surly; humble or haughty or all at the same time. As I read this I kept thinking of the "Little Rascals". Those of you too young to know about them (aka "Our Gang") owe it to yourself to try to find copies to watch.

Swami is an underachiever who lacks self-confidence and tries to get it vicariously from his friends. This is both an amusing and moving novella. Like so many of us in youth, Swami, to others, is so ignorant; but to himself his brilliance knows no bounds. He is a master at rationalizing his actions, yet so in need of love and support.

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The Bachelor of Arts: Young men will also be young men. We journey with Chandran from college (What do I want to do when I grow up?) to after (I've grown up! What am I going to do?). There's love and disappointment. There's hope and disillusionment. There's growing up for real and ???.

This is more serious than the first novella. Narayan lets us see into the mind of Chandran as he battles with himself to find his place. Malgudi may be fictional but it is truly part of the real world.

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The Dark Room: Middle-aged men will be idiots. Middle-aged women will be ... perfect of course (I'm not that dumb). This is about "He who rules the castle and all in it." vs "She who wants a life (or does she?)." I did not like this as much as the other three. It is very stereotyped but the writing is still great.

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The English Teacher: I so wanted the protagonist to be an old man to continue the progression. It was not to be. Our hero this time is a teacher and want-to-be poet. Looking for his place in life, following family tragedy, he ventures away from the norm to try the new. This one is said to be somewhat autobiographical and is very moving.

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In looking back on the four, the first and last are my favorites. The characters are drawn from life and placed in real world situations. Narayan's concise style continues throughout and draws the reader in to Malgudi. Fortunately there are many more that follow for me to read.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Affecting prose by the master of the novella 25 Mar 2011
By E.J. Kaye - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I really enjoyed these carefully crafted novellae. I particularly like 'Swami & Friends', which reinforced the universal forces that act upon children -- loyalty, belonging, and love. I also thought the 'Dark Room' was an excellent work, contrasting the response of an upper-class Indian housewife's ultimately failed attempt at rebellion with her husband's lack of appreciation for what he has. I highly recommend Narayan's work -- a window into Raj and post-Raj India with few peers.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful book 23 Feb 2013
By NPK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
buy it, sit with it and forget everything else. nothing else to say. had to put in a few more words so that i can submit this review.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review for the Kindle version of this book 21 Sep 2012
By Harsha Nagarajan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am writing this review for the Kindle version of R.K.Narayan's set of 4 novels, "Swami and friends", "Bachelor of arts", "The Dark room" and "The English Teacher".

Though the novels are great by themselves, the reason I am rating 3 for this is because of the following reasons:
1) At many places, the formatting of the punctuations, word splits, spelling of proper nouns, etc are incorrect and hence can get irritating at times while reading in a good flow.

2) Also, in certain chapters of Swami and friends, the story gets disconnected and abruptly some other chapter's part comes in, which is of course highly undesirable.

So, I would suggest any of you to rather pay more and get a better Kindle version than this one.

Thanks.
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally compelling 11 July 2014
By Jyotsna Sreenivasan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a great collection. I've read some of these novels multiple times. They are written in a deceptively "simple" style, but they are emotionally powerful and full of interesting details of life.
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