Conversations in Bloomsbury
Mulk Raj Anand
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Conversations in Bloomsbury occupies a distinct place in Mulk Raj Anand's writings. Outside of his fiction it is the most significant of his works and, along with Apology for Heroism, is the key to understanding Anand's literary, social and political beliefs.
Living in London from 1925 to 1945, Anand came to know the prominent writers and intellectuals of the metropolis, many of whom belonged to what came to be known as the Bloomsbury Group. In twenty engrossing chapters, he recalls his wide-ranging conversations with E.M. Forster, Aldous Huxley, Leonard and Virginia Woolf, Clive Bell, C.E.M. Joad, T.S. Eliot and several others.The four chapters on the enigmatic T.S. Eliot are the highlight of the book. They offer a penetrating and sympathetic understanding of Eliot's mind and reveal Anand's capacity not to allow his own personal view of the man to cloud his admiration for the poet's literary achievements.
In the imaginative rendering of his actual conversations, Anand has faithfully, often evocatively, captured the literary, cultural and political climate of England of the 1920s and 1930s. The book reveals both Anand's ambivalence towards the Bloomsbury Group as well as the ambivalent attitude of the British literati towards India's freedom. Together, the chapters metamorphose into a long autobiographical essay about the writer discovering his convictions and his nationalistic roots in a foreign land.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
MULK RAJ ANAND (1905-2004) was born in Peshawar and educated at the universities of Punjab and London. After earning his Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1929, Anand began writing notes for T.S. Eliot's magazine Criterion as well as books on diverse subjects such as cooking and the arts. Recognition came with the publication of his first two novels, Untouchable (1935) and Coolie (1936). These were followed, among others, by his well-known trilogy The Village (1939), Across the Back Waters (1940) and The Sword and the Sickle (1942). By the time he returned to India in 1946, he was the best-known Indian writer abroad.
Making Bombay his home and centre of activity, Anand plunged with gusto into India's cultural and social life. Writing remained, however, his main pre-occupation, and in 1953 he published Private Life of an Indian Prince — his finest literary achievement. He also founded and edited the renowned Indian art magazine Marg, and worked tirelessly on his monumental autobiographical fiction, The Seven Ages of Man.
The recipient of several honorary doctorates and other distinctions, he spent his last years at his picturesque retreat in Khandala, where he had opened a small dispensary for the poor.