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Mulk Raj Anand Biography

(1905–2004), Untouchable, Coolie, Two Leaves and a Bud, Across the Black Water

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Agha Shahid Ali Biography to Ardoch Perth and Kinross

Indian novelist, born in Peshawar, educated at the Universities of Lahore, London, and Cambridge. Deeply influenced by his years in England, where he was exposed to the aesthetic of the Bloomsbury set and E. M. Forster and to the evolving theories of the left, Anand published his first and best-known novel, Untouchable, in 1935. The novel, which was dramatized in 1989, centres on the tribulations and aspirations of a young street-cleaner, whose political consciousness is awakened by Gandhi's call for social equality in an independent India. Anand's novels and short stories, including Coolie (1936), Two Leaves and a Bud (1937), Across the Black Water (1940), and The Sword and the Sickle (1942) attempt to cross the formal boundaries of the traditional European novel in search of a hybrid genre that combines the intonations of Indian languages and the vitality of indigenous folk-narratives with the techniques of contemporary literary practice. Among subsequent works are The Big Heart (1945), The Private Life of an Indian Prince (1953), and The Old Woman and the Cow (1960; reprinted as Gauri, 1976); and four volumes of a projected autobiographical roman-fleuve: Seven Summers (1951); Morning Face (1968); Confessions of a Lover (1976); and The Bubble (1984), in which Anand breaks away from the restrained narrative methods of his earlier works, combining letters, diary entries, and excerpts from the hero's novel-in-process to polyphonic effect. Anand remains an ardent spokesman for human rights, and is venerated as India's leading man of English letters.

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