Chief Characteristics of Mulk Raj Anand's Style


Mulk Raj Anand's views about Indian English are as follows: There is a distinction between “Babu” or “King Emperor's English” and genuine “Indian English” used creatively for artistic purposes. The former is “Pidgin – English”, the higgledy - piggledy spoken English of Indians or the artificial writing of the completely anglicised Indian; the latter is “pigeon Indian”, in which “the words soar in the imagination like a pigeon in flight”. The Indian is likely to find it far more difficult to write good poetry in English rather than good prose, for unlike prose, which depends on reason as well as emotion, poetry depends a great deal on one's kinetic inheritance, and a large number of people cannot become other than themselves.

Chief Characteristics of Mulk Raj Anand's Style


Anand's English: 

The language of Mulk Raj Anand in his novels is a fine specimen of Indian English. It is not like the British English. It has certain peculiarities which make its Indian origins unmistakably clear. Its oriental opulence, its passion to use more words than are necessary, and its flat galloping tempo are typical of Indians who talk too much, too fast and too loud. For example, there is a passage untouchable: 

“As they sat or stood in the sun, showing their dark hands and feet, they had a curiously lackadaisical lazy, lousy look about them. It seemed their insides were concentrated in the act of emergence of a new birth, as it were, from the raw black, wintry feeling in their souls to the world of warmth. The taint of the dark, narrow, dingy little prison cells of their one - room homes lurked in them, however, even in the outdoor air.” 

There the language used is fast and swift and adjective after adjective is piled to make it more effective. 


When Anand is highly imaginative and emotional, he uses too many words that degenerate into mannerism. A passage from “The Big Heart”

“Now he felt the growing cells of his cancerous fear, which had been multiplying in him for years and which suddenly attacked him now and then, close up like the lids of an inner eye and leave him the flourishing patriarch of his family, only aware of his enemies, the thathiras, and triumphant above them on the heights to which the music lifted him.” 

This is an account of Lala Murlidhar's disappointment when he finds that the coppersmith brotherhood has boycotted his grandson's wedding. Lala Murlidhar is only a minor character or rather a figure of fun and here the gaudy display of verbal fireworks is in the nature of the stylistic habit. 

Translation of Indian Abuses: 

Mulk Raj Anand freely uses the English translation of Indian abusive expressions in his novels. Colourful swear - words reeking of the rustic soil are so plentiful in his novels that the whole dictionary of choice terms of abuse could be compiled out of his work. These abusive words expose him to the charge of vulgarity. These words range from the direct simple terms – prostitute, illegally begotten, brother in – law, Rape – mother, Rape – sister, son of a swine, eater of your masters to the more imaginative complex terms - cock - eyed son of bow legged scorpion. 

Literal Translation of Indian Utterances: 

When Mulk Raj Anand describes Indian scenes, situations and characters, he uses a language which is the literal translation of Indian utterances and experiences. The hue and cry that Gulabo raises at the sight of Sohini is an example of his use of Indian English. Gulabo cries, “Ari, ari bitch! Do you take me for a buffon? What are you laughing at slut? Aren't you ashamed of showing your teeth to me in the presence of men, you prostitute?”

There are numberless examples of the literal translation of Hindi or Punjabi idioms or proverbs into English used by the novelist in his novels: (1) “That is the talk.” (That is the thing.); “This is no talk.” (It does not matter.) ; “darkness has come”, “you sweepers have lifted your heads to the skies.” (2) “There is some black in the pulse”, (There is something fishy here). (3) “He was dead over her”. (He was madly in love with her). (4) “Come on my head, come on my eye”, (You are right welcome). (5) “Why do you eat my head?” (Why do you pester me?) (6) “After eating seven mice, the cat is going on a pilgrimage”, (After committing many deeds of sin, one pretends to be virtuous). 

Poetic Language: 

Naik remarks, “But this is not to deny poetry altogether to Anand; for, when the subject and the mood demand, he can give us pure lyricism… such moments are only exceptions ....... for example —“Gauri smiles like the demure morning”, “Govind laughs like the temple drum”.  His language becomes refined and poetic tinged with emotions when he describes the beauty or dignity of his characters. Describing Sohini's beauty he writes, “She had a sylph like form, not thin, but full bodied within the limits of her graceful frame, well - rounded on the hips, with an arched narrow waist from which descended the folds of her trousers and above which were her full round, globular breasts, jerking slightly, for lack of a bodice, under her transparent musslin shirt.” He writes about Leila that she was “Shy like the dawn on some hill of mystery.” His images are taken from the perceptions of his peasants, for example, Lalu sailing down the placid Ganga finds the river like “a pregnant woman swollen with content” and Munoo thinks that the taste of the fresh cotton thread in the factory is sickening “like bile in the mouth”.


Mulk Raj Anand uses Indian English in dialogues between Indian characters and good, spoken, middle class English in dialogues between British characters or when either of the two speakers is a British character. A critic remarks, “the speech of Anand's Indian characters is stamped through and through with an Indian colouring …” He has used two distinct types of English in his dialogues to give verisimilitude to his language. Some critics charge his language for Indianism and say that Anand invented Mulkese but they should keep in their minds that Rudyard Kipling, a generation earlier, employed Indianisms in a variety of ways in “Kim” (1901). But there is difference between the two Kipling makes a limited use of Indianism while in Anand, the mad art entire dialogue is permeated with a variety of colourful Indianisms. 


Mulk Raj Anand has contributed new technique, new matter, new approach and new style to Indo - Anglian fiction. He interprets Indian material, Indian life and the life of the under - dog in such a way that his novels come to have a universal appeal. He is the creator of the novel of human centrality, he has imparted realism to the Indian novel in English, and introduced a whole set of new characters. Though his Indian English he has created a semblance of reality in his novels which combine the best of the East and the West.

Saurabh Gupta

My name is Saurabh Gupta. I have designed this blog to help those students and people who are greatly interested to get knowledge about English Literature. This blog provides precious knowledge and information about English Literature and Criticism.

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