Anita Desai Long Fiction Analysis
Anita Desai’s novels reveal certain recurring patterns in plots, settings, and characterizations. The plots of her novels fuse two opposing propensities—one toward the gothic mystery and the other toward the philosophical novel. The gothic orientation, which Desai probably derived from Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847), is evident in varying degrees in all her novels. Fire on the Mountain, the novel that comes closest to being purely a psychological thriller, ends with a half-insane, reptilelike child setting fire to the forest surrounding her house; in Cry, the Peacock, Maya, the neurotic heroine, kills her husband, thereby fulfilling the prophecy of an albino sorcerer; in Voices in the City, Monisha, an unsettled, manic-depressive housewife, pours kerosene over herself and burns herself to death. On the other hand, most of Desai’s novels also contain a deep-rooted, philosophical concern about the meaning of life. From Maya to Matteo, most of Desai’sprotagonists, dissatisfied with their routine existence, search for a more meaningful life. Such a spiritual orientation is reminiscent of similar concerns in novels such as E. M. Forster’s Howards End (1910) and Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts (1941).
Desai’s novels also evolve a typical setting or “world” of their own. Most are set in the city, which comes to represent the undesirable, unimaginative reality; most also have a...
(The entire section is 4923 words.)
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