Idealism and Reality in Ananthmurthy’s Novels

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Idealism and Reality in Ananthamurthy’s Novels

By – Madhusudana P N (introduction at the end of the paper), Issue. XXVII, April 2017

While discussing the relationship between literature and protest U R Ananthamurthy opines that for a true writer it must be possible to capture both idealism and reality simultaneously. Though this statement holds good to all the literature in general to assess the success or failure of novels of U R Ananthamurthy this has been a useful parameter.

In his first novel, it appeared as though idealism and reality were so far away from one another that it would have never met but this distance between idealism and reality narrows down in later works of U R Ananthamurthy. The values that Praneshacharya trusted was based on the Sanatana culture. But it underwent fundamental change unaware of Praneshacharya, himself. This moral and cultural support on which he leaned on, collapsed and an irrevocable shock and his idealism shatters. Though, by the end of the novel Praneshacharya is depicted as adapting himself to the changing values and regaining his stature, there does not seem to have a sound background and support to his optimism.

 Whereas in Bharatipura the protagonist Jagannatha being an intellectual and rational man, can overcome this lacunae of Praneshacharya in Samskara. But Jagannatha’s imagination of idealism and the perception of the reality both stand firmly on the intellectual plane, he cannot actualize it in action.

He flirted with idealism only for his fancy and looks comical when he deals with the reality. There are two reasons for more effective dialectic between the idealism and the reality in Avaste. First the cultural situation in Avaste is more contemporary and complicated. Secondly the appropriate choice of the hero. Unlike the heroes of Sanskara and Bharathipura, Krishnappa is not an intellectual. He belongs to the working class and has deep roots in his soil.

Though Samskara was written in 1965 its cultural backdrops is a pre- independent India. Bharathipura and Girish Karnad’s Tughlaq are inspired by the Nehru era. Avaste is supposed to set during the emergency period of Indira Gandhi’s rule. Bhava is set during the era of electronic mass media. The political and cultural distance between these novels became significant and it becomes even more significant to find a common philosophy in this works.

Admittance of the harijans or dalits in to the temples is a untouchables very popular or favourite theme for progressive reformers and rebels. Though the theme of ‘Bharathipura’ is this and has not come out with the conventional formula of a problem and a solution. He considers the problem as a socio political struggle and the pressure groups behind it.

In addition to narrating the individual character’s individual problem, the novel analyses amidst the natural social system, the vested interests of individuals and the impact that it creates on the heterogeneous society.

The intention and the meaning of an action are captured in its multifaceted dimensions by juxtaposing the social ambitions with the individual necessities creating a conflicting design.

Thus ‘Bharathipura’ is not just a sensational narration of socially significant event. It is a meticulously concentrated work of art.

Bharathipura’ creates a world much wider than that of ‘Ghatashradda’ and ‘Samskara’. The hallmark of U R Ananthamurthy to create a microcosm. ‘Bharathipura’ is a small village that represents the time, place and designs of post independent India.

The lairdship system prevails in ‘Bharathipura’ within which are indicated strains of treachery as well. It is not through the revolts but by moral conscience that surfaces through the introspection of individuals. Being fed-up of the vested interests and hypocrisies of people of his class Jagannatha devices a (lifestyle) method of life much different from their lives.

The perspective shifts from specific to general, when Jagannatha moves from a plane of reformation to overt resistance many reactions against, him from his own society. Vibrations arise from the society which was dormant and contented till then. The society abided by the values without any scope for choice.

When their beliefs are shattered at stake despite organizing to form reformation and rebel due to stagnation, inevitably, they have to make a choice. Though it begins with the idealistic class and caste planes the determine action of Jagannatha.



Babu Sarat, Manchi. Indian Fiction Today: A Study in the Theme of Cultural Deformity. New Delhi: Prestige, 1997. Print.

Bhatta, S. Krishna. Indian English Fiction: A Critical Study, New Delhi: Sterling, 1987. Print.

Iyengar, K.R. Srinivasa. Indian Writing in English. 2nd edition. Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1974. Print.


The Author Madhusudana P N has been working as an assistant professor of English in  Govt arts college in Chitradurga since seven years. He is a dedicated teacher and has very recently submitted his thesis on U R Ananthamurthy’s novels, ‘The Concepts of ‘Sex’ and ‘Idealism’ in the Novels   of D H Lawrence and U R Ananthamurthy.  – A Comparative Study.’, in the Dravidian University.


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