The Financial Expert

Narayan, R. K.

Published by Michigan State University Press, 1953
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East Lansing. 1953. Michigan State University Press. 1st American Edition. Very Good In Worn Dustjacket. 30. 178 pages. hardcover. keywords: October 10. inventory # 16996. FROM THE PUBLISHER - ‘The financial expert’s office was under a banyan tree: his office furniture an old tin box. From the first pages of Mr. Narayan’s new novel we are back in the town of Malgudi with which for nearly twenty years we have been as familiar as with our own birthplace. We know, like the streets of childhood, Market Road, the snuff stalls, the vendors of toothpaste, Lawley Extension with its superior villas, the Regal Haircutting Saloon, the river, the railway. We expect at any moment to see the Bachelor of Arts waving a long farewell to a friend from the platform, small Swami wrapped in his adventurous dreams coming down Market Road, Mr. Sampath at the door of his dubious film studio. It is as if through their friendship we have been able to meet all these new—and rather doubtful— characters: Margayya, the financial expert, himself, who graduates from the banyan tree to publishing, and back to more elaborate and more crooked banking (but how innocent is all his crookedness); Dr. Pal, ‘journalist, correspondent and author’; and Margayya’s son Balu whose progress from charming childhood to spoilt frustrated manhood is perhaps the saddest episode Mr. Narayan has written. All Mr. Narayan’s comedies have had the undertone of sadness. Their gentle irony and absence of condemnation remind us how difficult comedy is in the West today—farce, savage, boisterous, satirical, is easy, but comedy needs a strong framework of social convention with which the author sympathises but which he does not share. Miss Compton-Burnett is forced to place her stories in the Edwardian or Victorian past: Mr. Henry Green substitutes elaborate conventions of his own for our social vacancies, so that his characters move in the kind of dance we learnt at kindergarten—’one step forward, one step to the right, twirl on the right toe.’ But the life of Malgudi—never ruffled by politics—proceeds in exactly the same way as it has done for centuries, and the juxtaposition of the age-old convention and the modern character provides much of the comedy. The astrologer is still called in to compare the horoscopes for a marriage, but now if you pay him enough he will fix them the way you want: the financial expert sits under his banyan tree opposite the new Central Co-operative Land Mortgage Bank. To push away a tumbler of milk is to insult a goddess. The caste of a great-grandfather is still of great importance. Margayya, astute about mortgages, consumed by the modern desire for wealth and motor-cars, yet consults the priest of the Goddess Lakshmi and finds himself seeking a red lotus to pound up in the milk drawn from a smoke-coloured cow (the 40 days of prayer have results: he becomes the owner of a pornographic manuscript called first Bed Life or The Science of Marital Happiness but afterwards, through the caution of the printer, Domestic Harmony). Margayya—the sad ambitious absurd financial expert—is perhaps the most engaging of all Mr. Narayan’s characters. In his ambitions for his boy, his huge dreams, his unintended villainies and his small vanities, his domestic tenderness, he has the hidden poetry and the unrecognised pathos we so often find in Tchechov’s characters who on the last page vanish into life. ‘He knew that he had a scheme somewhere at the back of his mind, a scheme which would place him among the elect in society, which would make people flock to him and look to him for guidance, advice and management. He could not yet say what the scheme would be, but he sensed its presence. he felt he ought to wait on that inspiration with reverence and watchfulness.’ Whom next shall I meet in Malgudi? That is the thought that comes to me when I close a novel of Mr. Narayan’s. I don’t wait for another novel. I wait to go out of my door into those loved and shabby streets and see w. Bookseller Inventory #

Bibliographic Details

Title: The Financial Expert
Publisher: Michigan State University Press
Publication Date: 1953
Binding: hardcover
Book Condition: Very Good In Worn Dustjacket
Edition: 1st Edition.

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Narayan, R. K.
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Published by Everyman (2006)
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Book Description Paperback. Condition: Fair. A readable copy of the book which may include some defects such as highlighting and notes. Cover and pages may be creased and show discolouration. Seller Inventory # GOR003502601

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Book Description Paperback. Condition: Very Good. The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged. Seller Inventory # GOR005841804

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Book Description Paperback. Condition: Very Good. The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged. Seller Inventory # GOR004723017

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