R. K. Narayan | The Teller of Timeless Tales

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His Life: The Creator of Malgudi

  • Year 1906 – Born in Chennai.
  • Year 1926 – Passed University Examination and joined Maharaja College of Mysore.
  • Year 1933 – Got married to Rajam.
  • Year 1958 – Was felicitated with the Sahitya Akademi Award.
  • Year 1964 – Received the Padma Bhushan.
  • Year 1982 – Published Malgudi Days.
  • Year 2001 – Bid adieu to the world.

It seems to me that we generally do not have a correct measure of our own wisdom. 

R. K. Narayan was a famous Indian author who was best known for his work Malgudi Days. He was one of the first English writers of India. His work majorly focussed upon the lives of ordinary people and his simplistic writing style made him popular among the mass. Also, his writings helped familiarizethe Indian culture to the Western world.

Personal Life

Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami was born on 10 October in Madras in 1906. His father was a school headmaster and did his early studies in his father’s school. He also attended other schools in Chennai like Lutheran Mission School and Christian College High School. He has interest in English literature from a very young age. His family had to move frequently because of his father’s job and so, Narayan spent most of his childhood with his grandmother, Parvati. It was his grandmother who taught him arithmetic, traditions and Sanskrit. His reading habits developed when he moved to Mysore with his family. In 1926, he passed the university examination and joined Maharaja College of Mysore.

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The love story of one of the finest writers of India is a tragic one. Narayan met a girl name Rajam and fell in love with her. They got married in 1933 and soon were blessed with a girl child. But their journey together didn’t last long as Rajam died of typhoid in 1939. He did not remarry after that.

Career Journey

After completing his college, Narayan took a job as a school teacher in one of the local schools. He authored his first novel ‘Swami and Friends’ and faced many rejections when he tried to publish it. Finally, his book was published in 1935 on the recommendation of Graham Greene. Graham was one of the leading English novelists of the 20th century. He found merit in his work after a friend of Narayan at Oxford showed Green the manuscript of Swami and Friends. After his marriage, he became a reporter for a newspaper called The Justice. He wrote his second novel, The Bachelors of Arts and it was published in 1937.

In 1938, he wrote his third novel – The Dark Room which dealt with the subject of emotional mishandling within a marriage. It was warmly received both by the readers and critics. His next work was The English Teacher which was his autobiography but with different names for the characters. He then wrote Mr. Sampath in 1949 and Waiting for the Mahatma in 1955. The following year, he penned down The Guide while he was touring the United States.

Govt. of Karnataka requested Narayan to write a book on Karnataka Tourism. It was to be aimed to promote tourism and it was published in 1980 named The Emerald Route. In 1980, he was chosen as a member of Rajya Sabha and throughout his 6 year term, he stressed upon reforming the education system for children. During this time, he also penned down his masterpiece – Malgudi Days in 1982. He published The World of Nagaraj in 1990 and then his final book Grandmother’s Tale in 1992.

Awards and Recognitions

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Narayan’s literary career is filled with many accolades. In 1958, He was felicitated with the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award. The Government of India bestowed upon him the Padma Bhushan in 1964 and then the Padma Vibhushan in 2001. He received the AC Benson Medal from the British Royal Society of Literature in 1980.

Later Life

He wrote for over 50 years and finally bid adieu to the world at the age of 94. A few hours before he was to be put on a ventilator, he planned to write his next novel ‘A story about a Grandfather’. But he did not recover and didn’t get a chance to start it and breathed his last on 13 May 2001.

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