Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*India. South Asian nation in which the novel is set during the 1950’s, after it became independent. Because of India’s vastness and its population’s relative stability, the various parts of the country differ dramatically in climate and terrain, customs, languages, architecture, food, and manners. During the country’s long colonial period, southern India was less influenced by the presence of the British Empire than other parts of India. Southern Indian cities and countryside thus tend to be “more Indian” and colorful than such metropolitan centers as Delhi, Bombay, and Calcutta.

During the 1950’s, India’s northern cities and the areas around them still retained vestiges of colonialism. However, there is nothing British about the novel’s Malgudi; it is pure Indian. Its authenticity and its central role in Narayan’s work has been aptly compared to William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County in Mississippi. Both serve as microcosms for the writers’ explorations of the human condition, which prevents them from evolving into places marked by maudlin regionalism.


Malgudi (mahl-GEW-dee). Fictional city in southern India. During nearly seventy years of writing fiction, Narayan built this memorable city street by street, building by building, and neighborhood by neighborhood. Lying next to a river, Malgudi is a bustling place, full of schools, restaurants, temples, the humble...

(The entire section is 583 words.)