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The novels of Mulk Raj Anand

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09th-Dec-2016       
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Vaiyapurirajan Selvarajan :
Anand was born in 1905 in Peshawar. It is now with Pakistan. His father was a Subedar in the Indian Army. Anand had been a witness to all the tyranny rule of the British and the orthodoxy treatment of the upper caste society. Inhumanism is not a malady of the West. It is inherent in all societies. Anand castigates the Indian society in his novels Coolie and Untouchable. Two Leaves and a Bud is used by him to expose the in-humanistic tendencies of the British people. An in-depth analysis is done here to bring to light the humanism as suggested by Mulk Raj Anand. Keywords: Humanism, Society, Transition and Hypocrisy. Literary pieces promoting humanistic values are called 'humanistic literatures'. They may be in any form may be a drama, poetry, short story or novel. Even though literature generally satisfy the didactic purpose and teach higher values, some other trends also crept into the literary field. Novel is a new literary form and it has its birth only in the 18th century. During that period there was a rise in the middle classes and trade and commerce started to develop among countries. Besides, there was a growth of newspapers, journals and magazines. This was the major reason for the popularity of novels during that century. Thereafter from the Romantic Period to the Modern age, novel started to pass through various movements. Victorian movement was a reaction to extreme romanticism. Oscar Wilde and John Galsworthy were famous novelists during that period. During the pre-war period, a new generation of novelists emerged challenging the orthodoxies. Isaac Rosen Bery and Wilfred Owen were the soldier poets who were popular during the First World War. They were called war poets. Their works depicted horrors of war, bringing reality of vents to the public. They were followed by domestic novels of Jane Austin and historical novels of Scott. The new trend glorifying the social values was confirmed by Charles Dickens through serial publications. He wrote vividly about London life and the struggle of the poor. His famous novel 'Oliver Twist' was famous for all classes. It brought about prison reforms and turned public attention to the plight of the poor children. Thus Dickens was the first to introduce humanism in novels.
Among the Indian writers in English Mulk Raj Anand was famous novelist in humanism. He was a Panjabi. His novels  Coolie, Untouchable and Two Leaves and the Bud are full of humanistic values. The word 'humanism' has a number of meanings. There are different types of humanism - Literary humanism, Renaissance humanism, Cultural humanism, Modern humanism, Secular humanism, Religious humanism and so on. Humanism is a philosophy focused upon human means for comprehending reality.
It is a philosophy of reason and science in pursuit of knowledge. It is regarded as a philosophy of imagination, compassion etc ... It is a realistic philosophy. It is the philosophy for those in love with life. Humanists take responsibility for the lives of others.
Mulk Raj Anand's humanism may be defined as, “A system of thought in which human interest, values and dignity are held dominant. It implies devotion to the concerns of mankind. It is an attitude that concentrates on the activities of man rather than on the supernatural world the world of nature or the so-called animal kingdom.”
Historically, humanism is a Renaissance doctrine, which stresses the essential worth, dignity and the greatness of man as contrasted with an older view that man is wicked, worthless and doomed to destruction both in life and in that to come. His humanism makes him use his art for the services of humanity.
It must be frankly admitted that humanism derives its strength from both Eastern and Western thought. But Anand time and again has stated that he rejected all kinds of system and categories of philosophy that are the basis of Western humanism.
Mulk Raj Anand was born in the Punjab province, which is now with Pakistan. Jallian Walla Bagh massacre happened during his lifetime. In April 1919, Indians assembled there to ventilate their grievances against the British rule. But they were mercilessly shot dead by Brigadier General Reginald Dyer. 329 people were killed and over 1200 were injured. Anand was moved heavily by this incident. British people did not treat Indians as humans. Poor were the worst sufferers. Rich Indians some how occupie higher positions under the British rulers.
Another plight of the Indian poor was in the hands of the rich, affluent, higher caste people. They treated the lower caste people as sub humans. In both cases there were social injustice, economic exploitation and suppression. Hence some best studies in these areas became the need of the hour.
Such studies in the regional languages proved inadequate insofar as they could not reach the whole of India with the multilingual nature of the country. Whilst so how can they reach the whole world? It could be done only through English and the task was accomplished by Mulk Raj Anand. He had an observant eye and an understanding heart and hence it became a possibility for him to give a portrayal of India’s contemporary  social life with vagaries and varieties.

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