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The English Teacher Paperback – October 15, 1980
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About the Author
- Paperback : 184 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0226568350
- ISBN-13 : 978-0226568355
- Dimensions : 5.25 x 0.5 x 8.25 inches
- Item Weight : 7.1 ounces
- Publisher : University Of Chicago Press; First edition & printing in this form (October 15, 1980)
- Language: : English
Best Sellers Rank:
#7,229,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #2,387,313 in Literature & Fiction (Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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To be a moment's ornament."
It has been a treat for me to indulge in some beautiful writing by a well-respected Indian writer, revered by the British writer Graham Greene who was his mentor, friend and instrumental in promoting Narayan worldwide.
In the literary world he is regarded as one of the best novelists that India has ewer produced.I am more than happy to endorse this.
The English Teacher was not seen as a deliberate attempt to produce Narayan's autobiography but this seems to be the writer's legacy. His earlier novels were more deliberate attempts to depict his own life story and they are both wonderful reads: Swami and Friends and The Bachelor of Arts.
Narayan's inspiration revolves around two main ideas: disillusionment with teaching undergraduates with their "grim tolerance" of literature, wanting to be spoonfed rather than to develop any appreciation or sensitivity towards the great writers of English literature. The second one which tends to dominate the novel is his fulfilling relationship with his wife and the numbness, loss and emptiness when she loses her battle with typhoid and he is left with a 3 year old daughter.
As we all know, death can devastate and emotionally destroy even the strongest of us particularly when the bond between two people is so strong. The book proved a cathartic experience for both Narayan and his character, Krishna and it is well worth reading to discover how they both gained spiritual strength to combat depression and lethargy. It will lift your spirits too. It will give you hope not despair. Promise.
In The English Teacher Krishna describes the undergraduates as "morons." In fact he generalises and makes a damning comment about the whole nation:"strangers to our own culture and camp followers of another culture, feeding on leavings and garbage." It wasn't meant to be a criticism of colonialism but a criticism of education, English literature and the seemingly unimportance of Indian culture and literature.
Krishna is self-critical at 30 years opf age, seeking more fulfilment from his work and life in general. He was constantly "nagged" by the feeling that he was doing the "wrong work." That makes sense to us doesn't it? He was a poet, a writer not a lecturer of undergraduates that he had to admonish, cajole or browbeat. He brooded, he was irritable and he self-deprecatingly compared his life to that of a "cow." His ritual was simply eating, working, walking and talking. It was NOT what he wanted. It takes the tragic loss of his wife to give him that stimulus to finally resign from his college and to move on.
Cultivating simple habits of communing with nature has its rewards, seeing the "glory" of the sunrise was something he relished and he states: "I felt I was really in a new world."
His young wife, Susila is delightful, beautiful, spiritual and just the tonic for a "lost" man like Krishna. Images of "divine"and "unearthly loveliness" with eyes that "always laughed" and with a "perpetual smile in her eyes" makes her seem spiritual and not human. Her down-to-earth simplicity can be seen when she scoffs at his rendition of the Romantics when reciting love poetry to her, scorning females for their lovesickness doting on their lovers. Her love is too pure to be idolatry.
When Susila loses her battle with typhoid she maintains a strong spiritual presence over her family and manages to communicate to Krishna. Narayan seems to be suggesting that a marriage "beyond the grave" is possible. It may be easier for Hindus to grapple with this more than cynical Europeans but Krishna finds enlightenment and that "rare immutable joy" of a relationship that will last for eternity.