Review : Bachelor of Arts by R.K. Narayan

March 6, 2013

Author: R.K. Narayan
Publisher: Nelson
Year: 1937
ISBN: 978-0099282242
Rating: ★★★★☆
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It has always been that oddity of imaginative earthy characters of R.K Narayan that readers get hooked up to know the deeper treasure of fictitious tale by him. He is one of the most illustrious Indian novelists. This master storyteller was born in Madras (Chennai). As, many of us would recall our days of fascination for the short stories by R.K Narayan: Malgudi Days – set in the fictional South Indian town of Malgudi. Bachelor of Arts is significantly written on the same line of characters and places as to his other novels, like- Swami  n’ Friends and The English Teacher, highly recommended work by him.

Peculiar element of this story is the drench of experience which is simple and ordinary, yet a subtle novelty will strike you. R.K. Narayan’s depiction of the story and the characters written in 1937 is nothing but the showcase of time, which in no sense is different from now, present. This story made me realize that he writes for common man of no era in particular. His prose is as young, modern and fresh as present contemporary writers. In fact, this contemporary element in his books written over villages, small town and away from urban touch places is quite enthralling. 

Bachelor of Arts depicts vivacity of Chandran’s life.  A young lad, dedicated to the subject of History with disciplined nature. His presence reflects his thoughtful mind of a strong opinionated character. He is vocal about issues and aspires to change things with his firm statements about the time, history, and people. Chandran portrays a fellow going by the rules of hard work.

His college days are exhausted in scheduling of studies, company of friends, living their life with aspirations, wants and discussions. Ramu, his only companion, spent most precious time together. Their indulgence would be smoking, coffee, cinema, quarrelling, sharing life pacts and long walks at the banks of Sarayu River; two closest companions on the run. On the other hand, Chandran’s family adds the humor of conservative nature yet engaging in Chandran’s life.    

You see, the portrayal in the book, in particular of Chandran will make you wonder about lots of things in life that you believed in since your college days, young adult days and the days to come which were uncertain or still are uncertain for most of us. In the mundane affairs of every aspiring youth- rebellious streak, passion for things and thoughts of idealism keep us in the longing wait for future, desires and  wants, which may not be necessarily so material in nature.

Later, Chandran bid farewell to his student life, college days come to an end. Sure – unsure of his dreams and plans. Where his friends were taking decisions, he was still making a map.  And like a wandering soul he finds himself tangled with questions and emotion of tenderly feeling; affection, love. A mind with ideal thinking, gets lost in bewilderment of opposite sex, her name was Malathi.  It amuses him and becomes frenzy.  Chandran lost in the image of beautiful Malathi drifts away. In spite of his persistent efforts, things remained the same for him. She still unreachable and each day becomes like an impossible task. She moves on, life goes on.

Madras brings an idea to Chandran’s life, to think over his desires and little did he know, the city transforms him into a state of transmigration. And just like in the search of answers, lost in the drift, he reaches to the highest of surreal self. His mode of life; Sanyasi teaches him bizarreness of time.

Scientifically, saturation is inevitable. Chandran returns back home with a vision of starting his life on productivity, transformation into a responsible man. In the midst of labor, hard work and hours of constructing ideas into actuality, it was just his way of coming out of the jolted experience of extreme emotion, realizing the absurdity of life. As he says, "There was no such thing (called love): It was a scorching madness. There was no such thing."

I feel, in the rat race of this thing called life we do feel lost, uncertain. The survival of the fittest ideology test us every day. Chandran’s life quite got me fixed on that part.  Optimism comes by experience and indulgence, but who can say when the opposite would hit you. And as life goes on, something new, something stained with old memories but in the end you see the new light; new love and new engagements, where we find stillness.

Quotable quote from the book, People pretended that they were friends, when the fact was they were brought together by force of circumstances. The classroom or the club or the office created friendships. When the circumstances changed the relations too snapped.”.. Doesn’t it give you a thought, an answer, a grip to all the memories you’ve had, people you meet and the reality on the silver line somewhere.

It was a delight reading this master piece by R.K Narayan, it is leaves you at tranquility. The charm is created for the readers, sincerely translated from narrator’s mind.

Charu Sharma

Writer at IndiaBookStore
Books and writing take me to my Neverland. I want to drown into the creations of music-art-literature. I prefer the company of Books than people- That's cynical me!

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  • divya May 22, 2013 at 6:36 AM

    great book………..i love reading rk narayan

  • sneha October 6, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    hey thank u for give me book review because tomorrow is mine book review

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