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"There are writers—Tolstoy and Henry James to name two—whom we hold in awe, writers—Turgenev and Chekhov—for whom we feel a personal affection, other writers whom we respect—Conrad for example—but who hold us at a long arm's length with their 'courtly foreign grace.' Narayan (whom I don't hesitate to name in such a context) more than any of them wakes in me a spring of gra "There are writers—Tolstoy and Henry James to name two—whom we hold in awe, writers—Turgenev and Chekhov—for whom we feel a personal affection, other writers whom we respect—Conrad for example—but who hold us at a long arm's length with their 'courtly foreign grace.' Narayan (whom I don't hesitate to name in such a context) more than any of them wakes in me a spring of gratitude, for he has offered me a second home. Without him I could never have known what it is like to be Indian."—Graham Greene Offering rare insight into the complexities of Indian middle-class society, R. K. Narayan traces life in the fictional town of Malgudi. The Dark Room is a searching look at a difficult marriage and a woman who eventually rebels against the demands of being a good and obedient wife. In Mr. Sampath, a newspaper man tries to keep his paper afloat in the face of social and economic changes sweeping India. Narayan writes of youth and young adulthood in the semiautobiographical Swami and Friends and The Bachelor of Arts. Although the ordinary tensions of maturing are heightened by the particular circumstances of pre-partition India, Narayan provides a universal vision of childhood, early love and grief. "The experience of reading one of his novels is . . . comparable to one's first reaction to the great Russian novels: the fresh realization of the common humanity of all peoples, underlain by a simultaneous sense of strangeness—like one's own reflection seen in a green twilight."—Margaret Parton, New York Herald Tribune


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"There are writers—Tolstoy and Henry James to name two—whom we hold in awe, writers—Turgenev and Chekhov—for whom we feel a personal affection, other writers whom we respect—Conrad for example—but who hold us at a long arm's length with their 'courtly foreign grace.' Narayan (whom I don't hesitate to name in such a context) more than any of them wakes in me a spring of gra "There are writers—Tolstoy and Henry James to name two—whom we hold in awe, writers—Turgenev and Chekhov—for whom we feel a personal affection, other writers whom we respect—Conrad for example—but who hold us at a long arm's length with their 'courtly foreign grace.' Narayan (whom I don't hesitate to name in such a context) more than any of them wakes in me a spring of gratitude, for he has offered me a second home. Without him I could never have known what it is like to be Indian."—Graham Greene Offering rare insight into the complexities of Indian middle-class society, R. K. Narayan traces life in the fictional town of Malgudi. The Dark Room is a searching look at a difficult marriage and a woman who eventually rebels against the demands of being a good and obedient wife. In Mr. Sampath, a newspaper man tries to keep his paper afloat in the face of social and economic changes sweeping India. Narayan writes of youth and young adulthood in the semiautobiographical Swami and Friends and The Bachelor of Arts. Although the ordinary tensions of maturing are heightened by the particular circumstances of pre-partition India, Narayan provides a universal vision of childhood, early love and grief. "The experience of reading one of his novels is . . . comparable to one's first reaction to the great Russian novels: the fresh realization of the common humanity of all peoples, underlain by a simultaneous sense of strangeness—like one's own reflection seen in a green twilight."—Margaret Parton, New York Herald Tribune

30 review for The Bachelor of Arts

  1. 5 out of 5

    Navaneeta

    Do we outgrow love? Do we outgrow hope? Do we outgrow Narayan? No!!! Never!!! Narayan's stories are the best because they are simple. Not only is Malgudi familiar to me, but I have lived many incidents that occurs there. Chandran's extensive study timetables... now who among us has not wasted many precious hours preparing those! This book too is a happy making book in a very Narayan way.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lars Guthrie

    The second of the four 'Malgugi' novels in the Everyman's Library Edition anthology. As I began 'The Bachelor of Arts,' I thought it less affecting than 'Swami and Friends,' but then R.K. Narayan's seemingly guileless and unassuming prose worked its magic. The myopic, self-centered world view of its protagonist, Chandran, a spoiled and self-indulgent upper middle-class college graduate unsure of his place in the world, could have quickly made his follies and foibles tiresome. Narayan, however, br The second of the four 'Malgugi' novels in the Everyman's Library Edition anthology. As I began 'The Bachelor of Arts,' I thought it less affecting than 'Swami and Friends,' but then R.K. Narayan's seemingly guileless and unassuming prose worked its magic. The myopic, self-centered world view of its protagonist, Chandran, a spoiled and self-indulgent upper middle-class college graduate unsure of his place in the world, could have quickly made his follies and foibles tiresome. Narayan, however, brought a wistful smile to this reader's face as he recognized the universality of those youthful stumblings and the crazy luck that so often ameliorates the reckless errors of early adulthood. It's a universality found in a time and place so different from ours: India in the 30s, where an arranged marriage could falter on the outcome of a horoscope. Narayan's gentle, tender touch makes the quotidian meanderings of his flawed characters simultaneously comic and tragic, and those characters sympathetic. Highly recommended.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Around the same time that William Faulkner was inventing his mythical Yoknapatawpha County, many thousands of miles away, Indian author R.K. Narayan was doing the same thing in his novels set in a small city named Malgudi in the southern State of Tamil Nadu. Today, I read The Bachelor of Arts (1937), set in an India that was still under British control. We see his hero Chandran struggle to get his college degree, then fail spectacularly in trying to marry a local beauty named Malathi. He goes of Around the same time that William Faulkner was inventing his mythical Yoknapatawpha County, many thousands of miles away, Indian author R.K. Narayan was doing the same thing in his novels set in a small city named Malgudi in the southern State of Tamil Nadu. Today, I read The Bachelor of Arts (1937), set in an India that was still under British control. We see his hero Chandran struggle to get his college degree, then fail spectacularly in trying to marry a local beauty named Malathi. He goes off the rails after this failure and spends many months as a holy man wandering around South India. Finally, he returns to Malgudi, finds a good job, and finds an even more beautiful bride in Susila. I have read about eight of Narayan's Malgudi novels and find him continuing to grow on me. This is the second volume in a trilogy that began with Swami and Friends and ended with The English Teacher, which I have yet to read. Although it is called a trilogy, the characters in each novel are different from one another. It was none other than Graham Greene who introduced Narayan to the world by finding a publisher for his first four novels. Narayan wrote in English His books are so good that he deserves to be considered one of the greatest 20th century novelists in English.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tnahsin Garg

    "You lived in the college, thinking that you were the first and the last of your kind the college would ever see, and you ended as a group photo..." While I was reading this masterpiece from Narayan, there was only one question that haunted my mind: "What is in his writing that gives me so much pleasure?" I first thought that it was its simplicity. But, is it the "simplicity"? No it can't be, and perhaps it shouldn't be. For simplicity reeks of a prose that is written in a very simple manner, a p "You lived in the college, thinking that you were the first and the last of your kind the college would ever see, and you ended as a group photo..." While I was reading this masterpiece from Narayan, there was only one question that haunted my mind: "What is in his writing that gives me so much pleasure?" I first thought that it was its simplicity. But, is it the "simplicity"? No it can't be, and perhaps it shouldn't be. For simplicity reeks of a prose that is written in a very simple manner, a prose which did not require any hard work and was done very "simply". I've come to believe it is, instead, the truthfulness of the story, of each character that pierced my heart. The obsession of Chandran's mother with dowry, the interest of Chandran's brother in cricket, the political correctness and diplomacy of Chandran's father, the ideological air of Chandran's friend, the poet - how utterly, truly true they were! As if they couldn't be more real. And Chandran? Chandran himself was a boy who didn't seem too different from a boy I used to be in college. Perhaps, that's why I liked the book so much. The fact that I could relate to it. And it is very likely that not many people will relate to a Bachelor of Arts, not many people would secretly fantasize living the romantic as well as tragic life Chandran lived in the story, and this is why they would just disregard this book as any other Indian coming-of-age story. But for select few, including me, this book is a rare jewel and in the years to come, we will hold it close to our hearts. Final Verdict : If you enjoy stories that generally lack drama and thrill but are laden with subtleties so subtle that it takes you a while to grasp all the finer details and you enjoy yourself savoring the taste of the story long after you've finished it, then this is the book for you.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Vikas Singh

    The second book by R.K. Narayan is also based in the fictional town of Malgudi. The book basically deals with the hopes and ambitions of a young graduate who falls in and out of love. The book is a good peep into the way colleges functioned in India in early 30s.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Reading_ Tam_ Ishly

    This books tells the story of a guy who goes to college. He tries hard making hectic study routines trying to please his father, trying his best on a day-to-day basis. However, like all of us, something or the other comes up disrupting his heavy study schedule more often than once. He is the kind of person who gets so involved in art and other academic activities that he barely gets time for anything else. But then comes the dilemma of being young and in love. Chandran falls hopelessly in love wi This books tells the story of a guy who goes to college. He tries hard making hectic study routines trying to please his father, trying his best on a day-to-day basis. However, like all of us, something or the other comes up disrupting his heavy study schedule more often than once. He is the kind of person who gets so involved in art and other academic activities that he barely gets time for anything else. But then comes the dilemma of being young and in love. Chandran falls hopelessly in love with a girl who he had managed to catch a glimpse one evening. He got so caught up in the process that even his parents had to yield to his one & only dream of his life i.e to marry her (who he knows barely). But somehow even after trying his best, the girl got married to someone else. And he was left devastated. But this somehow proved to be the only answer which would make him the person he was supposed to be. He left home, almost became a sanyasi, living on the mercy of those who could spare a little bit for him. After spending some years living without the desire to desire anything, he returns home much to the relief of his parents. Such was the change that came over him that whatever he did afterwards was with renewed zeal and progress. This was such a realistic read which the youth can relate even today. We study, choose a course to study. After that, what comes next is always a dilemma to us! The story portrays well the feelings of a youth, how a youth thinks like, why he does what he does;the gap between parents and a youth, the delirious feeling of first love, how it hurts deep when the heart gets broken for the first time; our unchanging education system for the past many decades, the issues that the youth faces regarding being pressured into taking decisions made for him or her by someone else,even marriage getting fixed by the parents/relatives. Still relatable today. 👎 Wish the story was more elaborate towards the end.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Durrant

    It is not that Chandran, the young central character of this small Narayan novel, is lackadaisical or lazy, but crucial life decisions just happen more than result from any planning. In fact, once Chandran sees the course before him, he can be filled with passionate, even irrational, intent. He falls passionately in love with a young woman to whom he has never spoken, nor hardly ever will; he becomes a wandering ascetic for a period of time simply because that seems the proper reaction to his di It is not that Chandran, the young central character of this small Narayan novel, is lackadaisical or lazy, but crucial life decisions just happen more than result from any planning. In fact, once Chandran sees the course before him, he can be filled with passionate, even irrational, intent. He falls passionately in love with a young woman to whom he has never spoken, nor hardly ever will; he becomes a wandering ascetic for a period of time simply because that seems the proper reaction to his disappointment in love; he stumbles upon a job working for a newspaper. In each of these roles, he plays his part with intensity . . . or, well, as much intensity as this somewhat thin character can muster! It would be easy to brush him aside as a loser, but so many of us might recognize something of ourselves in Chandran. That is, this Indian novel transcends the Indian world where ideas like karma shape so much, and forces us to wonder how much of our own lives, even the major decisions that have brought us to where we are now, result more from happenstance than from careful decision-making.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kritika Swarup

    Alright.. here is the deal.. This is one book which brings out how one ordinary Indian living in rural India spends his life. The emotions and reactions are true to their core. I for one could not give it more than 3-stars for: 1. The story writes about small day-to-day activities and thoughts behind them, which I myself have been through. I could never write it down, neither do I think I possibly can. At times I wish them away. Reading the book evoked those thoughts again. 2. At places I was tempte Alright.. here is the deal.. This is one book which brings out how one ordinary Indian living in rural India spends his life. The emotions and reactions are true to their core. I for one could not give it more than 3-stars for: 1. The story writes about small day-to-day activities and thoughts behind them, which I myself have been through. I could never write it down, neither do I think I possibly can. At times I wish them away. Reading the book evoked those thoughts again. 2. At places I was tempted to drop reading as the story to me being an Indian was predictable. The writing was predictable as well after the first half of the book. 3. I loathe to imagine that if such a story is published by some author in the current date, it will not be taken well.(my assumption) Still 3 stars atleast since: 1. The story was written in 1937. It beautifully brings out the India then and I love the way it does the task! 2. The characters are framed in a typical Indian mindset and they stick to their roles-something I was watching out for. 3. The intensity with which love hits the prodigy and the manner in which he deals with it is too close to me to be rejected as rubbish. (Confession: I equally hated and loved RKN for that) After re-reading my review, I guess I will give it a 4 :P

  9. 4 out of 5

    Versha

    Yet again I am smitten by R K Narayan’s writing! I really enjoy his satirical narration which says a lot of things indirectly. Here the journey of protagonist Chandran from his college life till the very end of this book although seems simple, but in fact has a very deep messages hidden in it. Like the positive change in Chandran’s character– though in a way his mistakes, his impulsiveness in taking any decision, his misconception towards love and friendship injures him a lot but in turn it also Yet again I am smitten by R K Narayan’s writing! I really enjoy his satirical narration which says a lot of things indirectly. Here the journey of protagonist Chandran from his college life till the very end of this book although seems simple, but in fact has a very deep messages hidden in it. Like the positive change in Chandran’s character– though in a way his mistakes, his impulsiveness in taking any decision, his misconception towards love and friendship injures him a lot but in turn it also teaches him a lesson and helps him grow mentally strong and makes him realize the importance of his life and family. My only complain is the ending which is a bit abrupt like his other works! my book journal

  10. 4 out of 5

    Vaidya

    This is one of the earlier RKNs. And in some ways takes off from where Swami and Friends leaves us. There is Chandran, about to finish his BA and stepping into the world of adulthood. There are the usual things that signify this rite of passage. Those friendships in college, that first love and failure, the search for a job or a thing to pursue. And then the inevitable 'settling down' into adulthood, when you know your friends are gone and your college days are reduced to "Group photos" hung on This is one of the earlier RKNs. And in some ways takes off from where Swami and Friends leaves us. There is Chandran, about to finish his BA and stepping into the world of adulthood. There are the usual things that signify this rite of passage. Those friendships in college, that first love and failure, the search for a job or a thing to pursue. And then the inevitable 'settling down' into adulthood, when you know your friends are gone and your college days are reduced to "Group photos" hung on your college walls. For a change, RKN's protagonist is not a no-good loser. You see that right at the start where he's made to debate against Historians even though he himself is a student of History, and does a really good job of it. He's a well above average student coming from a pretty wealthy family with doting parents. You know if he puts his mind to a task he's capable of doing a good job of it. Even to the point of becoming an ochre wearing ascetic where you know he's not going to go around cheating people like in The Guide(or at least starting to). Eventually that's what turns him back, when he realises he cannot go the whole way into being an ascetic. The best thing about RKN is always the details. The way his Father prowls around the house at 9 PM when he's expected to be home when he's a student, and the way he broaches the topic of marriage when he's working are just brilliant in their simplicity and closeness to real life. The whole change in how parents see us when we grow up, trying to walk the tight rope between dealing with one's child and an adult. Well done! This is one of RKN's earliest works, his second and you feel the frivolity that is missing in his later works. It draws from incidents in his life like the father of a girl he falls head-over-heels to, rejecting his proposal as the horoscopes do not match. In real life he convinced his future father-in-law, but here Chandran ends up despairing and rebellious. Many incidents are also from his own days in college. Subsequent works tend to go darker right after his wife died, before picking up on the lightness, eventually settling on a good balance between the two. It's very interesting to read RKN's works as references or checkpoints to his own life, and you can mark the trajectory starting from the almost autobiographical works in the beginning to being the writer he became, starting from works like The Financial Expert and Waiting for the Mahatma. Chandran rose from the gallery and stood looking at some group photos hanging on the wall. All your interests, joys, sorrows, hopes, contacts, and experience boiled down to group photos, Chandran thought. You lived in the college, thinking that you were the first and last of your kind the college would ever see, and you ended up as a group photo; the laughing, giggling fellows one saw about the Union now little knew that they would shortly be frozen into group photos... He stopped before the group representing the 1931 set. He stood on tiptoe to see the faces. Many faces were familiar, but he could not recollect all their names. Where were all these now? He met so few of his classmates, though they had been two hundred strong for four years. Where were they? Scattered like spray. They were probably merchants, advocates, murderers, police inspectors, clerks, officers, and what not. Some must have gone to England, some married and had children, some turned agriculturists, dead and starving and unemployed, all at grips with life, like a buffalo caught in the coils of a python...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Meghana

    From the introduction by Graham Greene: "Narayan wakes in me a spring of gratitude, for he has offered me a second home. Without him I could never have known what it is like to be Indian." Being Indian and reading any RK book hits home every time. Written exactly 80 years ago, about a fictional place close to home and reading at a time when I am at the age of the protagonist himself ; it is heartwarming to realize that the hopes and fears of a recently graduated older child in a conservative, mi From the introduction by Graham Greene: "Narayan wakes in me a spring of gratitude, for he has offered me a second home. Without him I could never have known what it is like to be Indian." Being Indian and reading any RK book hits home every time. Written exactly 80 years ago, about a fictional place close to home and reading at a time when I am at the age of the protagonist himself ; it is heartwarming to realize that the hopes and fears of a recently graduated older child in a conservative, middle class, south Indian family, have more or less maintained over the past century: Be it trying to convince your parents that you’re not their little kid anymore or wanting to study abroad only if to come back and make home a better place or warding off questions from nosy aunties about love and life or gathering all the courage in your bones to tell somebody you fell in love with them when they weren’t looking. While I am glad social injustices like not educating the girl child and child marriage (very much prevalent in 1930s India and touched upon in the book) are now not commonplace, evils like dowry and patriarchy are still the reality in my world, not to mention conundrums like religious superstitions and aristocratic societies and the immense pressure on young adults because of them. The Bachelor of Arts takes us along the ups and downs of Chandran’s life as he meanders through challenges that only your early twenties is capable of testing you with. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that this in fact is a book about the coming of age of Chandran H Venkatachala Iyer. Between love and friendship and family and society and self-actualization, this is a story of how Chandran overcomes himself in his pursuit of happiness.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kausik Lakkaraju

    This is one of the finest books written by RK Narayan.There was drama,Irony,Humour what not everything.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ashok Krishna

    There is a quaint charm about the books of R.K. Narayan, like the languid grace of late summer afternoons. There is no urge to spell out the minutiae of the plot, no kid-gloved treatment of readers by letting them into every detail, including the color of the characters’ iris. There are no otherworldly characters with vaunted virtues or revolting vileness. Narayan’s characters are all simple human beings, persons we come across every day at work, on the road, in public transports, or at the cafe There is a quaint charm about the books of R.K. Narayan, like the languid grace of late summer afternoons. There is no urge to spell out the minutiae of the plot, no kid-gloved treatment of readers by letting them into every detail, including the color of the characters’ iris. There are no otherworldly characters with vaunted virtues or revolting vileness. Narayan’s characters are all simple human beings, persons we come across every day at work, on the road, in public transports, or at the cafeteria. The characters are so natural to the point of making you feel like one of them. Again, there is no fairy-tale like fantasy in the plots. The storyline is - to borrow the comparison by some writer that I vaguely remember - like lifting the curtain from a stage where the events are already going on, observing it without any judgement and then gently letting the curtain fall. Unlike most of the contemporary Indian authors, many of whose works I nearly ended up flinging through the window, the Indian masters of yore had a sense of simplicity and sincerity in their writings. If I say that RKN is chief among them, not many would contest my point. This book by Narayan is an absolute delight. Dwelling into the transformation of a young, easy-going college student into a man of serious disposition, the joys, aspirations, dreams, the inevitable heartbreak and revival of hope that all stud this period of transformation are well narrated in a manner only RKN can. Chandran is the son of doting parents and elder brother to an adoring young boy. In his final year in college, Chandran has little to care about in life, except his college History Association meetings and, later, his final year exams. A life of comfort, simple joys and routine dreams promises to get better when he meets, no, sees a young girl during one of his evening strolls by the river. Smitten by the girl, even whose name he is not aware of, Chandran relishes all the dreams of youth, only to be rudely awakened by the challenges and customs that marked the Indian societies in that period. Did Chandran marry the girl of his dreams? Did he get to make a mark for himself and settle in life? What did it take to turn that carefree young man into a mature adult? Read the book for answers. There are more than a dozen books of R.K. Narayan in my shelf now. Each book evokes in me a different sensation. Some books make me smile, some stir in me a sense of mischief, some give me peace, some cause sadness, some fill me with hope and some stoke all these emotions at once. ‘The Bachelor of Arts’ is one such book laced with the trademark subtle humor of R.K. Narayan, mixed with a tinge of sadness that lurks in the background like the ever-present nose in front of our eyes. If you like books that deal with the intricacies of human nature, with all the pleasures and frailties that make us stand high above all other creatures on this planet, then ‘The Bachelor of Arts’ is a book that you MUST experience!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Abhishek Desikan

    I’m too small a person to comment on R K Narayan’s writing but I can safely claim that he has an inimitable style which makes you appreciate the nuances of day-to-day life and transports you into the setting of his semi-fictional world. Set in the background of Malgudi, The Bachelor of Arts is part two of the trilogy starting with Swami and Friends and traces the life of Chandran, and his experiences in colonial era India as a college student, who later falls in love and gets heartbroken, leadin I’m too small a person to comment on R K Narayan’s writing but I can safely claim that he has an inimitable style which makes you appreciate the nuances of day-to-day life and transports you into the setting of his semi-fictional world. Set in the background of Malgudi, The Bachelor of Arts is part two of the trilogy starting with Swami and Friends and traces the life of Chandran, and his experiences in colonial era India as a college student, who later falls in love and gets heartbroken, leading to a stint as a Sanyasi in Madras before returning to Malgudi, after realizing the sacrifices his family has made for him and how their love needs to be reciprocated. If one were familiar with how “Tambrahm” uncles speak, one would notice that R K Narayan’s sentence construction is largely an English version of the same. Personally, that is what made it more enjoyable to me. There’s ample doses of the dry and sarcastic humor, and the usual fretting over the “orthodox and right way” of doing things. Chandran might seem a spoilt kid in some ways, but the decency of his approach and his thought process, his internalizations and deductions on the nature of life and his personal opinions on people and places around him are so relatable a century later, especially for someone who has been through a similar orthodox upbringing. It is interesting to visualize the mindset of people who lived in the latter part of the British empire, how status was a deeply personal matter among the upper-class society, how marrying a girl above 15 years of age was seen as something negative, and how job referrals were not so different from how they are today. It was also funny to see how Madras was seen as far more cosmopolitan back in the day, and people “rude” to not even look the eye. It would be silly to judge the actions of the characters in the book by today’s standards, something which we have been accustomed to of late. It is best enjoyed by allowing yourself to be transported to a bygone era, and let the author spin his charm.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Preethi Kavilikatta

    It’s a simple story, written in simple language. Most of it, predictable. For a book written decades ago, this book still reflects the Indian society, and the struggles of an average Indian caught up in the tug of war between traditionalism and modernity. Also, a major chunk of the book depicts the transformation of a young graduate to an adult - what happens when life pricks your bubble and you face the challenges that reality has in store for you. Experiences that have a role to play in the be It’s a simple story, written in simple language. Most of it, predictable. For a book written decades ago, this book still reflects the Indian society, and the struggles of an average Indian caught up in the tug of war between traditionalism and modernity. Also, a major chunk of the book depicts the transformation of a young graduate to an adult - what happens when life pricks your bubble and you face the challenges that reality has in store for you. Experiences that have a role to play in the becoming of an adult, is what this book is all about.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rhys

    R.K. Narayan gives me a 'warmer' feeling than any other novelist. This doesn't mean that his books make life seem easy. On the contrary, his work is absolutely committed to dealing with the travails of existence; but there is a deep humanity about his style that strongly appeals to my better nature. I love immersing myself in his world and I feel that no more genuine and sincere guide could ever be found to our common reality than this author. The Bachelor of Arts tells of Chandran, who graduates R.K. Narayan gives me a 'warmer' feeling than any other novelist. This doesn't mean that his books make life seem easy. On the contrary, his work is absolutely committed to dealing with the travails of existence; but there is a deep humanity about his style that strongly appeals to my better nature. I love immersing myself in his world and I feel that no more genuine and sincere guide could ever be found to our common reality than this author. The Bachelor of Arts tells of Chandran, who graduates from college and falls in love with Malathi, a girl he sees on the sands of the river bank one evening. His yearnings for her lead to the most dramatic adventure of his youth, as he impulsively but bravely decides to reject the world when he is unable to have her as his wife. But that is only one extended incident among many. This novel is delightful and charming but also has elements of melancholy. It is humorous and yet serious. I fully understand why Graham Greene said that Narayan was his favourite writer in the English language. Greene said that Narayan had metaphorically offered him a second home in India; and that's exactly the way I feel too.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rishi Prakash

    It was my first Narayan book so obviously I was quite curious as well as excited to finally read one of the most respected Indian author of all time. And now I know why I heard about him so much for all these years; absolutely brilliant to say the least. He has put a simple small town story in such a beautiful way that you feel like being there and seeing this entire story from your own eyes. It is absolutely amazing when you get to know that it was published in 1937 and still you can connect at It was my first Narayan book so obviously I was quite curious as well as excited to finally read one of the most respected Indian author of all time. And now I know why I heard about him so much for all these years; absolutely brilliant to say the least. He has put a simple small town story in such a beautiful way that you feel like being there and seeing this entire story from your own eyes. It is absolutely amazing when you get to know that it was published in 1937 and still you can connect at so many levels with the entire story. The story explores the transition of an adolescent mind into adulthood through the main protagonist who is a guy doing his B.A. from where the title of the book comes! The story covers his college days, post graduation confusion on career, his heartbreak and finally his marriage which is so important in our society. And nothing looks out of time even though it was published almost 75 years ago :) Go for it just to see how simplicity and depth can go together in a story. I am definitely going to be with Mr Narayan for a long time now!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nisar Masoom

    I'm dividing this review into Pros, Cons and Verdict. Pros: An engaging read from start to finish. Narayan has one quality that most writers of his genre lack: thrill. And even though this type of novel is deemed satirical, I found it unusually unputdownable as well. The main character Chandran is simplistically fun and his contact with the other characters is intriguing to read about. Cons: One flaw is that there are not enough interesting secondary characters. The best support was from the poet I'm dividing this review into Pros, Cons and Verdict. Pros: An engaging read from start to finish. Narayan has one quality that most writers of his genre lack: thrill. And even though this type of novel is deemed satirical, I found it unusually unputdownable as well. The main character Chandran is simplistically fun and his contact with the other characters is intriguing to read about. Cons: One flaw is that there are not enough interesting secondary characters. The best support was from the poet Mohan whose thoughts are equally unique as Chandran's. And the other flaw was the ending which was satisfactory yet not excellent. Verdict: Although, I pointed out two flaws they are only minor. The novel is superbly written and with an original flair that most English-language Indian authors lack Furthermore, some readers have compared Narayan's literary style to Charles Dickens' but the sarcasm in this book reminded me of Oscar Wilde's wit. Ultimately, The Bachelor of Arts is one of the best satirical novels I've ever read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Hriday

    Excellent story. RK Narayan in his simple and charming ways, takes us through college life, friendship and love. Malgudi the town continues to enthrall the reader; while this book provides a different facet portrayed through a very different human experience, one can still imagine Swami and his friends playing about in town while Chandran is participating in debates, falling in love and starting his own business. Good and fast read; only, this edition has bad print, small fonts and is ridden with Excellent story. RK Narayan in his simple and charming ways, takes us through college life, friendship and love. Malgudi the town continues to enthrall the reader; while this book provides a different facet portrayed through a very different human experience, one can still imagine Swami and his friends playing about in town while Chandran is participating in debates, falling in love and starting his own business. Good and fast read; only, this edition has bad print, small fonts and is ridden with spelling errors.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Samyuktha jayaprakash

    NEVER has something so simple given me so much joy. The book is so charming and captures British Indian life in a very realistic way. The book is so relatable , mundane things which we would never think of come of as something so relatable and reading this book was a lovely experience :)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gourang Ambulkar

    Typical R K Narayan style, although in this he seems to have cut down a lot on his geographical and topological details of Malgudi. In the middle section, one can't escape the familiar overtones of his other novel The guide. Definitely entertaining, but ofcourse comes across as a bit dated and naïve.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Narayana

    There was nothing yet everything in this book. Such a simple story; yet it was a soothing and calming experience to read this book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nanda Wanninayaka

    I thought of reading R. K. Narayan’s “The Bachelor of Arts” as it was prescribed for GAQ exam at the Sri Jayawardenepura University. I had the privilege of reading its Sinhala translation as well. The Bachelor of Arts is the second book of a trilogy that began with Swami and Friends and ended with The English Teacher. It is again set in Malgudi, the fictional town Narayan invented for his novels. The protagonist of the novel is Chandran. The novel describes about his college life, love life and su I thought of reading R. K. Narayan’s “The Bachelor of Arts” as it was prescribed for GAQ exam at the Sri Jayawardenepura University. I had the privilege of reading its Sinhala translation as well. The Bachelor of Arts is the second book of a trilogy that began with Swami and Friends and ended with The English Teacher. It is again set in Malgudi, the fictional town Narayan invented for his novels. The protagonist of the novel is Chandran. The novel describes about his college life, love life and sufferings due to lost love and subsequent life as a hermit in rural India. When you keep on reading the novel you feel like it is your own story. The novel is that close to you. Hustles and bustles of the college life and how you try to win attention and be appreciated by the teachers, how you feel when you transit from an adolescent to an adult, how you manage your family ties are described by Narayan exceptionally well making it everyone’s story. The ways Chandran “falls” in love with his dream girl is interesting. He sees a girl by the riverbank and instantly falls in love with her but she never knows about it. He thinks the girl also loves him and behaves in a manner to make him happy and comfortable. He dreams about marrying her and living a happy life with her. He regularly goes to a boutique simply because the boy at the boutique has similar eyes to his dream girl. Haven’t we done similar things in our teen ages? Unfortunately his proposal is rejected by the girl’s parents due to mismatching of the two’s horoscopes. Chandran is heartbroken. He leaves the family to become a hermit. After some time, after realizing how foolish it is to leave the family and lose interest in worldly pleasures, he returns home and takes up a job as a newsagent. Still he can’t take the girl out of his head and suffers. Later he falls in love with Susila, whom his father introduces him through a proposal and decides to marry her. He sees some radiance in Susila that was not with the former girl.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rebecka

    LIked Swami And Friends better. But enjoyed this a lot. Until it flopped out one of those 'middle of the story" endings, where you're left wandering around in a daze wondering what the ending of the book - had the writer finished writing to the ending! - might have been. I tire of this trick. it's unfair, and a rip-off. Just write a proper ending. Dont just suddenly put your pen down, throw your arms up in the air and say 'finished'. Rude. Otherwise, a beautiful read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Aakansha Jain

    It was my first RK Narayan book...I really enjoyed reading it but was quite disappointed when I reached the end. It ended so abruptly!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nilanjan Pal

    The simplicity was touching. One of the best novels by Narayan I've read till date. Gave a firm yet tingling grasp on the stoutness and unimaginable flexibility of the human mind.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mahak Gambhir

    The story takes us through a journey in Chandran's life in his early 20s, when he finishes the last year of his college and finally becomes a 'Bachelor of Arts'. We see him toiling through the last year of college, with added managerial responsibilities, yet the solace of great (and some not-so-great) friends' company. The confusion that follows completion of college, added with the guileless love of young adulthood takes us to an entirely different phase in his life where he finds himself hopel The story takes us through a journey in Chandran's life in his early 20s, when he finishes the last year of his college and finally becomes a 'Bachelor of Arts'. We see him toiling through the last year of college, with added managerial responsibilities, yet the solace of great (and some not-so-great) friends' company. The confusion that follows completion of college, added with the guileless love of young adulthood takes us to an entirely different phase in his life where he finds himself hopeless, helpless and hapless: his entire life based on lies and deceit and selfishness on others' part. His misplaced anger, and apparent perception of futility of all his acts convince him to run away from everything and find the truth meaning of life, through scrounging about aimlessly, posing as an ascetic. This is until suddenly, the realisation hits him that it's he who has now been deceiving people and taking advantage of their beliefs. From this journey, nevertheless, he doesn't return empty-handed, but with certain convictions about life and its 'Callous Realism'. While the Chandran we see now is very different from the vibrant and high-spirited one we began the story with, we connect with him no less as he takes the 'rational' decision of yielding to the demands of his parents and agrees to get married, completely aware that love, friendship and the likes are just delusions life has to offer. A perfect mix of humour, nostalgia, philosophy and love, with a slight seasoning of adventure and intrigue, this book is sure to capture your imagination, and awaken you to the fact that in some way, Chandran’s story is also your own.

  28. 4 out of 5

    book_louse09

    Bachelor of Arts is a book written by R.K.Narayan. It was published in 1937 and consists of 166 pages. This is a story of a boy named chandran . The story starts with his Bachelor life and who has taken the subject history and lives a disciplinary life. As he is of a modern view so he aspires to change the mindset of many people. His Bachelor life revolves around his friends and family, where he spent most of the time with his companion Ramu. In this novel the complexities of marriage in Indian Bachelor of Arts is a book written by R.K.Narayan. It was published in 1937 and consists of 166 pages. This is a story of a boy named chandran . The story starts with his Bachelor life and who has taken the subject history and lives a disciplinary life. As he is of a modern view so he aspires to change the mindset of many people. His Bachelor life revolves around his friends and family, where he spent most of the time with his companion Ramu. In this novel the complexities of marriage in Indian society is portrayed. Chandran's family has a traditional beliefs of hindu religion marriage. As chandran bid farewell to his college life, he fell in love with a girl named Malathi. And because of his traditional hindu marriage system, complexities arises and he is not able to marry his beloved Malathi. Then futher the novel describes about his difficulties in getting a job and facing the reality of living without her. The ending is very nice where he finally overcomes his difficulties. I personally like this novel as Narayan takes us to the college days where old memories comes passing by but also shows the difficulties one faces once college ends. From this novel i learned that you need to get going on in your life even if you are parted with your precious one.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    Narayan uses a light touch to give the reader little notes of humor and sentimentality in this coming-of-age story set in India in 1931. We follow a young man as he goes through his final year of college, falling in love, and getting a job, with setbacks along the way. How his family talk to one another is amusing (the mother especially), as is the folly of the grand plans of youth, and the various little witticisms we hear from the characters, e.g. “the saying is that Madras is hot for ten mont Narayan uses a light touch to give the reader little notes of humor and sentimentality in this coming-of-age story set in India in 1931. We follow a young man as he goes through his final year of college, falling in love, and getting a job, with setbacks along the way. How his family talk to one another is amusing (the mother especially), as is the folly of the grand plans of youth, and the various little witticisms we hear from the characters, e.g. “the saying is that Madras is hot for ten months in the year and hotter for two” and “a man must spend forty years in making money and forty years in spending it.” I liked the little touch of a radical character who is against the presence of the British in India, and it was very interesting to read about the customs and rituals involved with getting married, including the casting of horoscopes and just how young a girl would be to be considered eligible – just after puberty, or around 14, and if not married by 16, viewed with some disdain. It thus gives us a wonderful little window into India, which is one of the things Graham Greene so liked about Narayan, but it’s also a universal story. I’ll have to seek out more from this author.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Vageesha

    Rating: 4/5 “Friendship was another illusion like love, though it did not reach the same mad heights. People pretended that they were friends when the fact was they were brought together by force of circumstances.” ― R.K. Narayan, The Bachelor of Arts. "Love and friendship were the veriest illusions" Above lines sum up the essence of this beautiful Book. This is my second attempt with R.K.N and as usual I must admit that; It is always a bliss to read R.K.N work. Reading R.K.N is like - Taking a bare Rating: 4/5 “Friendship was another illusion like love, though it did not reach the same mad heights. People pretended that they were friends when the fact was they were brought together by force of circumstances.” ― R.K. Narayan, The Bachelor of Arts. "Love and friendship were the veriest illusions" Above lines sum up the essence of this beautiful Book. This is my second attempt with R.K.N and as usual I must admit that; It is always a bliss to read R.K.N work. Reading R.K.N is like - Taking a barefoot walk in the drizzling incessant rain. You feel the touch of each drop to your soul. His elusive writing style in simple English, the way he narrates the subtle emotions of the characters - Everything about R.K.N is exemplary. This Book is all about a young man who tries to find his place in his arbitrary life - I recommend to read this Book after his work "The English Teacher" In between getting criticized ( Read Dr.Shashi Tharoor: http://www.thehindu.com/2001/07/08/st...) for his flatten style of English, R.K. Proves that he is worthy of your attention.

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