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Who is Mulk Raj Anand?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2016
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Mulk Raj Anand, born on 12 December 1905, was an Indian novelist who penned his works in English. He is known for his attention to the lives of members of low castes in traditional Indian communities. Before his time, members of such castes were not afforded the type of literary humanity that is generally given to main characters in novels. Rather, they were shadowy figures with little or no personality in novels about colonial English characters or high-caste Indians. Anand was a pioneer of Indo-Anglian literature, and was one of the first Indians to write novels in English and gain readership in numerous other countries.

The author was a student in Amritsar, India at Khlasa College. Later, he studied as an undergraduate st in England at University College London. After his time at University College, he went to Cambridge University. Anand graduated from Cambridge in 1929 with a PhD.

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Anand made a literary name for himself with his novel Untouchable, which was published in 1935. Untouchable is a novel about the life of Bakha, a member of the untouchable caste. It is his lot in life to be a public cleaner, sweeping the streets and toilets in his town. Because he has to work with filth, he is socially associated with filth and is therefore forbidden to touch a person of a higher caste. In the novel, it is clear how terribly downtrodden members of the untouchable caste are. When his sister, for example, is molested by a holy man, she has absolutely no recourse as the society does not accept the idea that someone of a higher caste would deign to touch an untouchable. Untouchable won Anand a great deal of acclaim. In fact, he was touted as the Charles Dickens of India.

For many years, Anand moved back and forth between India and England. He became an important figure within the Indian independence movement. He continued to write novels, poetry, essays, and even autobiographical works for many years. Some of his late novels include The Village, The Sword and the Sickle, Across the Black Waters, and The Private Life of an Indian Prince. He also founded Marg, a literary magazine and worked as a professor in a number of universities.

Mulk Raj Anand died in Pune at the age of 99 on 28 September 2004.

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