The Bachelor of Arts is a novel written in 1937 and set against the imaginary town of Malgudi. It was written and published after the ever-green “Swami and His Friends”. This novel is about Chandran, who completes his B.A. in History. Initially he plans to go to England for doctoral studies, after his graduation. But, he falls in love with Malathi and coerces his parents to seek the alliance. When it fails, he flees away from home and takes up sanyasi (ascetic) life. Ultimately what happens to him, brings us to the end of the story.
Another story well written by Narayan. But to me, his “Swami and his Friends” and “The English Teacher” remain to be the all time favorites (I am yet to read a quite a lot of his books). He wonderfully portrays the college life of Chandran. His plans to prepare for the final examination and his inability to cope up with his plans due to the Secretary post, are absolutely prosaic. Anyone who had been a student can really appreciate this!
Chandran has been portrayed as an ordinary young man with a capricious mind. Initially he loves to go to England, earn his Doctrate and come back to get a good job. Once he has fallen in love, he loses interest in going to England and spends his time dreaming about the girl. When his love fails, he leaves everyone at home and flees to be a sanyasi. Enlightment he attains during his ascetic days, makes him realize the distinctions among different entities – desire & destiny, infatuation & love, “some girl” & his mother…
Mohan plays the role of his friend – primarily because he stays in a hotel opposite to Malathi’s (Chandran’s lover) house. One of the characters I loved in the book was that of Mr. H. C. Venkatachala Iyer – Chandran’s dad. He is typical father – who always maintains a middle line between his wife and sons. When Chandran expresses his love for Malathi, his mother cries as expected but his father gives the required support. He tries his level best to convince Malathi’s dad for the marriage, but in vain.
My Favorite Moment
When Chandran’s dad comes to his ‘Daily Messenger’ office and talks about the new marriage proposal. His hesitation and fear about Chandran’s reactions are wonderfully brought out by Narayan. He is a master at it! When Chandran refuses it, he immediately returns back to normal and talks about a trivial topic like Paperweight – amazingly written!
A good read – especially if you are a R.K. Narayan fan (which I am).
Where To Buy