This novel is based in the fictional town known as 'Malgudi', as has been the scenario in a majority of novels composed by the author. Readers will be introduced to a tourist guide in the form of Raju who undergoes a metamorphosis into a spiritual guide and eventually one of the legendary holy men of the country. The Guide has won immense recognition and enabled R.K. Narayan to receive the Sahitya Akademi Award in the year 1960, for English.
Synopsis of Guide
Published in 1958, The Guide begins as a comic look at the life of a rogue, but develops into something different in its progression. In a fairly compact and concise manner the book conveys the numerous aspects of the day-to-day lives of India people. The different culture systems, the superstitions and values of the people of a small town named Malgudi serve as a reflection on Indian society altogether.
The Guide is set at the background of Malgudi, R. K. Narayan's make-believe place in southern India. The novel is told through a series of flashbacks. Raju is the hero of the story who grows up near a railway station and eventually becomes a shopkeeper. Later he becomes a resourceful tourist guide. He meets Rosie and her husband. Rosie is a beautiful dancer. Her husband Marco is a scholar and anthropologist and is more interested in his research than in his young wife Rosie. As the story progresses the guide falls in love with Rosie and starts to live with her. He loses all his money and inspires Rosie to start dancing and he becomes his manager. But he cannot forget his habit and is one day caught red handed while forging Rosie's signature to sell one of her necklaces. He stays in jail for two years. After returning from imprisonment he decides not to go to Malgudi. He arrives at a village wherein a local villager, Velan notices his simply draped garments and immediately creates an impression that Raju is a saint. Raju, however, decides to continue residing in the village as going back to his native village would shower him with renewed disgrace. Therefore he accepts the food offered affectionately by the villagers and enjoys the whole process. The irony of the story is a drought that occurs in the village. Raju takes a 12-day fast on people request. After many days of his fasting in one fine morning when he goes to the riverside for his daily rituals his legs sag down and he feels it is raining in the hillside. The ending of the novel is a bit confusing as it leaves an unfinished end of Raju's death or end of drought.
The Guide as a film
This novel has also been developed into a Hindi movie featuring Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman . The Guide describes the transformation of a protagonist from a tourist guide to a spiritual guide. However there exists a marked contrast in the end, between the movie and the book. In the novel, The Guide, the writer R.K. Narayan has not specified if the drought has concluded or Raju has met his end, but in the movie, it is portrayed that Raju finally dies after the emotional meeting with his beloved lover Rosie and his mother.
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