In Memoriam Raja Rao (1908-2006)

Raja Rao (1908-2006), one of Indian Writing in English’s greatest novelists, passed away peacefully at his house in Austin, Texas, about 12.45 p.m. on Saturday, 8 July 2006. ** I reproduce this anonymous tribute, sent me from India the following day: ** "The passing away of Raja Rao will be deeply mourned by all students and teachers of English in India as well as by the larger circle of his devoted admirers across the world. ** Raja Rao constituted, with Mulk Raj Anand and R K Narayan, the Great Trinity of Indian writers in English. He gave this literature an indigenous interiority and depth as well as an international and intercultural range which extended beyond the Anglophone world. He fashioned a new kind of English — which he called both "a language that is not one’s own" and yet "not really an alien language." He wrote with a spiritual and metaphysical resonance rare in fiction in any language while he also painted, with a novelist’s acute observation and relish, warm and lively portraits of persons and places including Gandhi, Nehru and Andre Malraux, and the Ganga ghats in Banaras. Writing was for him, he said, a form of spiritual quest which he sustained till the end of his life, with a new novel due to appear shortly. With Narayan, Anand and Rao all gone, a whole major era in Indian writing in English comes to an end. ** We pay homage to Raja Rao and pray for the departed soul." ** Do please also see my note on this blog dated 22 March 2006, on Raja Rao resources on the Internet and the remarkable work being done by the Rao scholar Letizia Alterno, whose tribute to the late author can be found on-line at: http://rajarao.free.fr/Main.htm

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