Mulk Raj Anand S Extraordinarily Powerful Story Of An Untouchable In India S Caste System, With A New Introduction By Ramachandra Guha, Author Of GandhiBakha Is A Proud And Attractive Young Man, Yet None The Less He Is An Untouchable An Outcast In India S Caste System It Is A System That Is Even Now Only Slowly Changing And Was Then As Cruel And Debilitating As That Of Apartheid Into This Vivid Re Creation Of One Day In The Life Of Bakha, Sweeper And Toilet Cleaner, Anand Pours A Vitality, Fire And Richness Of Detail That Earn His Place As One Of The Twentieth Century S Most Important Indian Writers One Of The Most Eloquent And Imaginative Works To Deal With This Difficult And Emotive Subject Martin Seymour Smith It Recalled To Me Very Vividly The Occasions I Have Walked The Wrong Way In An Indian City, And It Is A Way Down Which No Novelist Has Yet Taken Me E M Forster

4 thoughts on “Untouchable (Penguin Classics)

  1. says:

    Untouchable is a short novel depicting the drudgery and injustice of low caste life in an Indian hill town It s set in the 1930s toward the end of British rule an atmosphere of unrest, dissatisfaction and revolt beginning to percolate Anand s novel presaging the changes of the following decades.It s a simple tale set over a single day in the life of Bakha, a young untouchable latrine cleaner, recording his unhappy, routine misfortunes culminating in a rather set piece finish, where Bakha is presented with three emancipating opportunities Christianity Gandi s crusade for social equality the flush system practical development of municipal hygiene.Of course Anand s novel has great historical and human significance and should not be overlooked, however, as a story, I found it lacked a compelling narrative, tailing off into an impersonal presentation of theoretical possibilities Anand seems to acknowledge that talk alone will not reverse Bakha s fate Bakha fading away in the last sentences back into his inescapable circumstances.

  2. says:

    One of the surprise hits of my reading year It had been recommended but had sat on the kindle as I found excuse after excuse to pass it over This shortish book covers A Day In The Life Of Bakhta He is the lowest form of human life in India His caste being that of street sweeper and latrine cleaner.He is so low that he is literally untouchable by higher castes, who behave like screaming schoolgirls if they so much as brush past him The day is used by the author to include three humiliations that make the adolescent Bakhta inescapably aware of his station As this reality is driven home, he sees hope in the form of a chance encounter at a rally featuring Gandhi who seems to make a personal appeal to him he loved the manFor him he would do anything.The latter section of the book rather by passes Bakhta and seems of a platform for the author s politics A sort of Gandhi versus B.R Amedkar theoretical discussion Nevertheless what stays with the reader is the unutterable poverty His caste were not even allowed to draw water from a well in case they contaminated it So his sister has to sit with the other untouchables waiting for a benevolent higher caste Hindu to deign to give them water.The book also kept reminding me of another contempoaneous work namely The Road To Wigan Pier not for the religious aspects but the poverty The book will force you to ask yourself very difficult questions about religion, unless of course you were born higher caste and then it s I m alright Jack.

  3. says:

    In this shocking novel, Mulk Raj Anand brushes an emotional portrait of an untouchable in India, a victim of six thousand years of a religious caste system the old ossified order and the stagnating conventions.UntouchableUntouchables are doomed to remain the scum of the earth, these dregs of humanity, only the grim silence of the death fighting for life prevailed Their living conditions of oppressed under dogs generate a deep rooted sense of inferiority and the docile acceptance of the laws of fate They are literally untouchable it is religion which prevented them from touching us If they touch something human bodies of a higher caste, temples , it is polluted.The hypocrisy of these religious conventions is blatantly exposed when a monk touches the breasts of a young untouchable girl.GandhiThe author put all his hope in the Mahatma the old civilization must be destroyed I regard untouchability as the greatest blot on Hinduism As one voice in the crowd expresses it clearly, we must destroy caste, the inequalities of birth and unaltered vocations We must recognize an equality of rights, privileges and opportunities for everyone When the sweepers change their profession, they will no longer remain untouchable DeterminismA blot on this book is determinism heredity the cumulative influence of careful selection had imprisoned his free will in the shackles of slavery But, the author contradicts himself immediately It was a discord between person and circumstances by which a lion like him lay enmeshed in a net while many a common criminal wore a rajah s crown With forceful details his dirty face on which the flies congregated in abundance to taste of the sweet delights of the saliva on the corners of his lips Mulk Raj Anand wrote a gripping human document and a damning condemnation of a blatant disdain of human dignity Did the caste system disappear since he wrote it so many years ago Highly recommended.N.B I also highly recommend the movies on the same theme by the great Indian director Shyam Benegal, as well as the Indian books of V.S Naipaul.

  4. says:

    The book is describes Indian society as seen through the eyes of Bakha, an out caste and one of the untouchables They are so named because they are associated with physical as well as religious impurity Bakha is a teenage sweeper boy who was raised in the spirit os Indian society during the time of British colonisation He soon realises that Indian society has nothing to offer him, which is why he begins to idealise the British and attempts, in a pityable manner, to become as British as his meagre means allow The book describes a day in Bakha s life, which is full of humiliations until he almos by accident witnesses a speech by Mahatma Ghandi.The book is an easy read and at the same time highly complex as it describes Indian culture very well, but not in a teacher like way, but as you go along It presents an account of the lives of those forgotten about If you re interested in Indian culture or postcolonial literature, I can only recommend the book I enjoyed it.