R. K. Narayan’s ‘The English Teacher’

LF_GOLBE_NARAY_AP_001Stefany Anne Golberg at The Smart Set:

The writer R.K. Narayan was not prone to supernatural thoughts. He understood as well as anyone why The English Teacher — his 1944 novel about a grieving professor who learns to communicate with his recently deceased wife through trance writing — would inspire bewilderment in his readers, and even rage. In the first half of the book (the “domestic” half), a benignly self-absorbed English teacher of thirty, Krishna, living in the fictional Indian town of Malgudi, decides to devote himself more fully to his wife and child. In the second half (the “spiritual” half), the happy domestic picture dissolves into — as Narayan wrote in his memoir My Days — “tragedy, death, and nebulous, impossible speculations.” Readers might feel, wrote Narayan, as if they had been baited into the second half by the first. But he hoped readers would find an explanation knowing that, of all his novels, The English Teacher was the most autobiographical.

Months after his own wife’s death from typhoid, Narayan found himself walking down a private road in Mylapore, toward the house of a cousin’s friend. Narayan, convinced that his writing days were done, had taken to idle walks. He had no curiosity, no inspiration, no interest in the future nor anything related to the world of the living, save the life of his young daughter.

more here.