Perhaps the only novel of its kind, Kanthapura is a work of early days of Indian fiction and it shows true values of Indianness, Indian ethos and real Indian philosophy of Vasudhaiv Kutumbak and non-violence to the readers. Raja Rao, a pioneer of Indian English fiction who played an important role in bringing the art of writing novels to the place where it is now, has written with astute precision. Kanthapura is a saga of the Indian unity against the British. The novel is written with a lot of words coming directly from Indian dialects and the names of characters which take you to the roots of India.
Like Malgudi or Narayan, Kanthapura is also a village created by Raja Rao. It might be taken as a laboratory of Gandhian idea of unity, a place where all can live with the same rights and contribution to society. However, in the beginning, things are different, grim and also confusing to an extent as the readers are introduced to the sectors which are specially built for Shudras, Brahmans etc. As the novel continues, this is what our central character tries to bring to an end – Moorthy struggles hard against his own social norms, unnecessary and useless, and brings all the citizens of Kanthapura together.
Kanthapura is a metaphor. It is a word that resembles unity, strength and a wave of change in people’s thinking. Widow remarriage, caste and class put aside, people coming together and embracing change for good… there are many allusions that one can draw from such a book and you will love as you read it. Raja Rao has used his craftmanship as an author, his vision as a philosopher and his will to contribute as a freedom fighter… all things are present in the best proportion in this book and we must revel in these ideas…
Kanthapura is a masterpiece of Indian English literature and many will agree when I say this. This is, perhaps, one of the best examples of literature with a purpose and we will enjoy it for many more years in the future. Right from the theme of the novel to the content, language to characters, style of writing to use of metaphors… there are many things in this work that make it not only wonderful but also exclusive. No doubt that such a work finds a place in many universities’ syllabus for English literature.
Review by a reader for Egoistic Readers