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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A gentle, everyday story about a quiet, simple man25 July 2004
- Published on Amazon.com
Set in Narayan's fictional small Indian town of Malgudi, this story follows some significant events in the life of a quiet man named Nagaraj: a family man, born to modest wealth, a part-time accountant who is not too interested in money, a would-be writer obsessed with the ancient sage Narada, and perhaps ultimately, a failure. Through his eyes we can experience the simple joys of small town life in South Asia, but we also gradually become acquainted with its frustrations.
In Narayan's easy prose we follow Nagaraj about town on a typical day, enjoying the simple everyday pleasures that life holds for him, meeting people he knows, and hearing their stories before it's time to return home to his wife and pyol (balcony). Over the course of time, we learn about his relationship with his disillusioned, but still dutiful wife Sita, his difficulties in raising his nephew Tim, and his ongoing attempts to write a biography of his beloved Narada.
Most of all we come to know Nagaraj very well. Although he has a touch of the intellectual about him, we soon discover that his reluctance to speak up for himself leads others to secretly view him with disdain. This is especially evident in his relationship with his older brother Gophu, who regularly snubs and belittles him, despite the fact that Gophu's greatest accomplishment seems to revolve around the processing of methane gas on his farm. But Gophu does possess an inner strength that is sadly lacking in Nagaraj. We see too often how Nagaraj suppresses his real thoughts so as not to give offense to others, then utters inanities to mask his real feelings of irritation or even superiority. This leads even his social inferiors to believe that he is merely a fool, when in actuality his real failing is not his intelligence, but a gentleness of the soul that sometimes seems to border on saintliness. Indeed, he possesses some of the childlike simplicity that is often associated with the very religious, although his own religious leanings are modest, not fanatical.
Nagaraj's problems have a faintly comic element to them, and to that extent the book is a rather amusing look at a very ineffectual man, but on another level, one can't help but sympathize with his difficulties. If Nagaraj reminds you too much of someone you care very deeply about, this trip to Malgudi could be a very melancholy journey.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A journey into the simplicity of a man's heart11 Nov. 2012
Ms Fiza Pathan
- Published on Amazon.com
Simplicity enables a person to understand the depths of human nature as well as the universe. R.K.Narayan's novel 'The World Of Nagaraj' just like his other books, takes the reader on a journey into the simplicity of a man's heart who is unable to comprehend the undertones of normal activities of people. At the same time, the description of an Indian town, Malgudi where all of Narayan's stories are based again soothes the intellectual critic within us & challenges our inner self especially , the Indian within us all to judge the book. The story is simple yet profound in its unique way. The character of Nagaraj is put forward to the reader as a person whose only aim in life is to pen down a novel on the life of the holy celestial Hindu sage, 'Narada'. Nagaraj is a domesticated personality who is simple minded (he cannot even mix his coffee properly) & who is unlike his elder brother Gopu, who is materialistic & very ambitious, ready to make a profit at whatever cost. Nagaraj is dominated & humiliated by his brother which as is seen clearly in the novel, he tries to ignore passing it of as a sort of 'brotherly joke'. The point is however that, no one takes poor Nagaraj seriously...neither his brother, nor his wife Sita, not the card playing pandit who he goes to learn about the life of the a fore mentioned celestial sage, nor his nephew Tim who is adored by Nagaraj....not anybody, except one person......that person is Nagaraj's obsession NARADA. The reason I state that the sage from mythology is the only one who takes Nagaraj seriously is because, the meaning of Narada's existence itself is to cause misunderstandings between people (as we know from studying Hindu Mythology) & to pass on gossip from one party to another. This is what constantly happens in R.K. Narayan's novel ; the mother-in-law misunderstands Sita & questions her actions, Tim misunderstands his doting father & runs of to his uncle's home, Saroja (Tim's wife) misunderstands Nagaraj & leaves her abode along with her shady character of a husband...this continues to take place leaving pitiable Nagaraj gasping for a breath of freedom rom everyone including his wife & Narada the sage himself. The novel also brings together a number of unforgettable 'Malgudi' characters who not only entertain but who also play pivotal roles in the whole narrative.,example; my favorite the Talkative Man who leads Nagaraj to the card playing pundit. The novel keeps one engrossed till the very end & yet develops a person's understanding of how not being forthright in ones dealings can create a lot of unwanted issues.,example; Nagaraj was not forthright enough unlike his wife (who seems to act as hi Lady Macbeth) to question the mysterious drunken Tim about his whereabouts during college hours. The hypocrisy of the clergy is evident in the novel as well as the rather amusing side of a stationary shop owner who seems to know more about the Hindu sages & gods than the ordinary pundit. In all, the book was a breath of fresh air for me through the humorous characters & their never ending problems (just like mine....a good read if there was ever one. The 'Grand old man of Malgudi' strikes again ! [...]