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CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

The social novelist is an eye-opener who points to the substratum of decayed social

reality that exists beneath the meretricious social beauty. The social novel emphasizes

the influence of social, political, and economic conditions on characters and events; often

it also embodies an implicit or explicit thesis recommending social reform. Art should be

defined as a social process clothed in beauty in order to be appealing. The novels of the

nineteenth century served the sociological purpose but did not have the vigour to satirise

the society.

Shashi Tharoor is a penetrating social satirist gifted with an eagle-eyed vision and

ability to bring to the fore all the unnoticed and invisible social malaise. He is an

amalgamation of Jonathan Swift, Rabelais, and Voltaire and Charles Dickens. His

writings coruscate with witty, sportive, verbal, fantastic, light, and joyous elements.

Sarcasm is allied to irony; in fact it can be regarded as a form of irony where the ironical

intention and content are indubitably made clear. Derivatively sarcasm is a scathing or

biting speech. Tharoor‟s commanding position in the field of Indian English Literature

owes to a combination of personal and literary qualities. Qualities of the first kind are

those of passion, humour, honesty, courage, intelligence, and the presence of strong

personal convictions. In the second category are qualities like imagination,

inventiveness, and stylistic and rhetorical skill. He is appreciated for his art of using

words with the greatest skill and effectiveness.

Tharoor‟s characters have deeper connections with the social world and are more

susceptible to its corruption. The Upanishads, the Scriptures, the Ramayana, and the

Mahabharatha offer guidance to Tharoor. He can capture the tone of illiterate Indians,

educated aristocrates, political novices, treacherous diplomats, unbeknown autocrats,

fire-brand religious fanatics, unassumed religious activist, pseudo religious men,


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innocent social activists, humbug cine-stars, fradulant British rulers etcetera with

consummate precision. In the hands of Tharoor satire becomes a versatile potent

instrument, capable of affording a variety of harmonies. One of the satiric devices most

frequently used by Tharoor is „insinuation‟- that is, implying a fact without stating it in

so many words. Satire may be personal or general. Each has its own merits and demerits

or drawbacks. General satire is more palatable and therefore more easily acceptable.

Jonathan Swift tells why general satire becomes so popular: “Satire is a sort of glass

wherein beholders do generally discover everybody‟s face but their own; which is the

chief reason for that kind reception it meets within the world, and, that so very few are

offended with it” (66).

Satire and irony are considered the most effective weapons to understand a society.

Irony, satire, derision, sarcasm, and caustic wit are employed in a work of art to attack

the human vices and follies. Tharoor admits that he writes for Indians. In an interview

with Rajeev Srinivasan, he discloses, “… I seem to have struck a chord with Indians both

in India and amongst those settled abroad. I am always pleasantly surprised at the

amount of interest in India such people have, but those who grew up there, and those

who grew up abroad. Of course, there is also a smaller audience of non-Indians who are

interested in India, too” (n.pag.). History is a kind of sacred writing because truth is

essential to it. Truth is divine in nature. For Tharoor truth, history, and god are one and

the same. Tharoor blends history, truth and god together. He says, “I am a student of

history and I am … concerned with the recording of history… My work is … conscious

about the various ways that history can be told and recorded” (qtd.in Merivitla 89).

Tharoor‟s three novels – The Great Indian Novel, Show Business, and Riot are

classics. Like Charles Dickens, Tharoor wants to promote social well being. It would not

be an exaggeration to say that the spirit of both is inspired, kindred, and satiric. The

Great Indian Novel has evoked wide response resulting in an elaborate study from
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different angles. The literary historiographer calls it Post-Modernist. The literary

taxonomist calls it meta-fiction. The literary critic calls it a satire. The anthropologist

looks at it as nyth and history. It is a treasure house for the researchers interested in post-

colonial literature. Deccan Herald, Hyderabad comments that The Great Indian Novel is

a true mirror of contemporary Indian polity. The Toronto Star, Canada showers

encomium on the novel thus: “Tharoor‟s novel, like Swift‟s Gulliver’s Travels, succeeds

on several levels. At face value, it is an amusing bit of fantasy. On a general political

plane, it pokes fun at the ambitions and foibles of presumably fictitious politicians. But

… the analogies are devastating” (Kamleswar n.pag.). John Calvin Batchelor considers

Tharoor on a par with political satirists such as “Skvorecky, Aksyonov, Burgess,

Voinovich, Fuentes and our own Coover” (n.pag). It is a post-modern political satire in a

mythical design. Show Business is his second novel written on celluloid which received a

front- page accolade in the New York Times Book review as: “Exuberant and clever …

both affectionately and fiercely done” (n.pag). It has been made into a motion picture,

“Bollywood.” Saros Cowasjee in Toronto Star views it as a “withering satire on

Bombay‟s film industry … raised to a new and more universal pitch by showing what is

common between films and politics” (qtd. in Sharma 2). Riot is a searing examination of

Hindu-Muslim violence in contemporary India. Harsh Mander appreciates Riot as

“Extremely readable, humane and perceptive, with the urgency of contemporary history”

(qtd. in Riot n.pag.). Elie Wiesel opines that this novel is written with elegance and

sensitivity. He says, “Riot is a remarkable tale about violence and hope in a land that has

known both …” The Washington Post acclaims it as, “ … Riot is not just a splendidly

readable novel of memorable characters and moral complexity. It helps us to see

honestly and compassionately, the delicate trecheries we can be most blind to in

ourselves, especially in times of triumph or grevious pain” (Riot blurb).


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Regarding his service to the humanity in general and the Indians in particular, Tharror

admits, “I am not a politician, but I see politics as a means to an end – the end being to

influence the policies that determine the well-being of our people. I want to make a

difference, and I believe I can” (Srinivasan n.pag). He also says that he will be a strong

advocate for the defence of India‟s pluralist and secular democracy and also be an

advocate of the poor in the society. But TP Sreenivasan argues that Tharoor‟s foray into

public life might not have been a sudden decision as a peep into his writings suggests

that the Congress MP was apparently preparing for a political career right from his Ph.D

days. He adds further, “A review of Tharoor‟s writings, beginning with his doctoral

thesis on Indian foreign policy, submitted to the Fletcher School (at US‟ Tufts

University), to his novels, like the monumental „The Great Indian Novel’, „Show

Business’ and „Riot‟ will reveal that he deliberately stayed close to Indian history and

Indian landscapes as though he was preparing for a political career in India” (n.pag).

Tharoor‟s use of the medium of novel to exhibit his genuine concern for the society is

owing to the fact that novel is a camouflaging art of blending fiction with facts in a novel

manner. Lionel Trilling considers the novel “the most effective agent of the moral

imagination” (215) in one‟s period. Of the various genres of literary art, novel is

regarded as the most popular, accessible, democratic and effective medium for

embodying and recreating the complex and varied experiences of mankind. A novel

should establish its relationship with its readers and reflect the spirit of the age that

shapes the artist‟s sensibility and prompts his vision. Most novels are concerned with

ordinary people and their problems in the societies in which they find themselves. “For

me, the value of the novel as a form is that it is able to incorporate elements of every

aspect of life,” declares Ghosh (5).

David Daiches in his fascinating study on the evolution of the English novel from

Richardson to Jane Austen makes a prophetic statement that the English novel is
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“destined to become the most popular and prolific of all English literary forms” (700).

Having emerged in the eighteenth century, the novel has had its roots in middle class

ideals and sensibilities and was in a large measure the product of the middle class. The

novels were patterned on imagined events set against a clearly realised social

background. They treated of significant human behaviour. Love followed by marriage,

quarrels, and reconciliation, and gain or loss of money or social status were the

significant themes and the narrative was always episodic. Almost till the beginning of the

twentieth century, this trend continued. Daiches establishes that domestic norms,

individual idiosyncrasies, personal proclivities and individual fulfilment and frustrations

were the only concerns of the novelists. There was irony, sarcasm or thinly veiled

criticism of individual character with no awareness of the individual being an integral

part of the society. This was as it should be because the perception of man was only in

the light of the individual or an individual in the domestic setting.

Daiches illustrates his theory by examining several novels which analysed the

characters as individuals without studying their impact on the society or the changes that

they should bring about in the society. As the novel was a product of the urban

imagination, it tended to realism and contemporaneity without generalizing, moralizing,

or criticizing, philosophizing, with a view to change. Richardson was the first novelist

though there were others like Daniel Defoe, John Bunyan and Philip Sidney. Pamela, the

first novel of Samuel Richardson was published in 1740 and it carries a sub-title „Virtue

Rewarded.‟ The sub-titles are used in the novels “to nudge the readers and to

communicate something of the novelist‟s deeper purpose” (John Mullan12). One

peculiarity of the novels of the eighteenth century was that they told “new stories rather

than recomposing old ones. Their characters were, supposedly, singular; each novel had

to introduce its readers to a new world. This has not changed” (Mullan 9).
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The last half of the twentieth century served as an incubator for the novel to bask in

the warmth of literary criticism and in the interpretation of inter-disciplinary approaches.

The novel has blossomed into a literary form as an essential and relevant exposition of

the life of the society. The sociological discourse is not without the psychological

mappings. The political, the scientific, and the futuristic concerns of the society were

also woven into the texture of the novel. It is one of the ironies of the history of the

novel that what was considered as ingenious way of wasting time and stigmatized as

drinking drams in the morning has come to be the key to open the emotional and ethical,

the philosophical and the inspirational concerns of a society that has no time for the

elaborate descriptions indulged in by the novel.

The elements of the novel such as theme, plot, story, characterization, and message

are the discoveries of the critical methods and the inter-disciplinary nature of

interpretation rather than a change in the structure and method of the novel. No work of

art reveals all its secrets to anyone generation, nor does it circumscribe itself to any one

dimension. If poetry is considered a system of norms, the novel also can be considered as

such a system with layers being designated by different appellations. Aristotle who

considered the epic as the highest form of art and the most comprehensive record of

human adventure in both thought and action has been extrapolated when the novel is

termed prose-epic. The relevance of the novel to life came to be exposed when critical

inhibitions were exploded and the novel was more about discourse than about structure,

more about instruction than about entertainment.

Early criticism considered the art form for its structure and narratology. Many of them

were considered auto-biographical or at best biographical. The roots were in the

individual. It is the new approach that has broken out of the shell of aesthetics and ethics

and spread into the humanistic and the societal. The shift in attitude is engendered in the

redefinition of the novel which has abstracted from the micro and implanted on the
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macro. This change is comparable to what Eliot called the cultural. Eliot was able to look

at poetry as a carrier of culture and defined culture itself as „the presentness of the past‟

or „the usable past‟.

Sociological studies and the aberrations in social values made the ethical aspects of

the novel dubious. Further, writers like Henry James and James Joyce dichotomized life

and the novel and influenced by the existentialist doctrines said that no critical model can

afford to impose the morals of the society on the morals of the world of novel. Henry

James‟ famous quotation, „Trust the tale, not the teller‟ reoriented interpretive

approaches to the novel. He says, “The true art of fiction is to catch the colour of life

itself” (Nagarajan). In his major novels, Joyce uses three novel techniques: i) the stream

of consciousness, ii) interior monologue, and iii) twisting and distorting of language. His

work is full of wit, puns and startling conceits. His genious is for the comic rather than

the tragic view of life.

The influence of Aristotle on the question of inter-relation between plot and character

has also surfaced in the study of the novel. Though the relative merits will not tilt the

scale to one side, it can be seen that character influencing the plot is more relevant in the

context of the sociological novel rather than otherwise. The discretion exposed the inner

significance of the novel which is synonymous with the significance of the life led by the

characters. If there is a disjuncture between life and literature, exposing the influence of

one on the other and if the narrative is a replica of life without authorial comment that

means the author writes history. If the author comments it exposes his point of view. So

the interpretation of the novel would be subjective but the impersonality of art demands

freedom from both the author and his creations. No man can walk abroad without

treading on his own shadow, said Walter Raleigh. So a novelist cannot create a character

free of his own personality. The narrative technique adopted by the omniscient narrator
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makes the novel anticipatory and overtly moralizing. The characters in different contexts

become a kind of chorus. The progress of the plot is more authorial than artistic.

The theory of logic of novel is undependable because the logic of the narrative is

crowded out by the logic of the narrator. It may also happen that the characters run away

from the creators. The logic of the narrative is a fallacy because the author‟s envisioning

of the end is guided by what he wants it to be and not what the logical end would be. As

it happened in the case of the earlier epics or parables the interpretations became

tendentious, pre-determined and made to order. It is possible to alter the narrative to suit

the readers and their expectations. In the interpretation of the epics, the traditional,

ethical instruction to be drawn is mandated by the tradition. Other possibilities are either

blasphemous or anti-cultural. A new interpretation in which the extrinsic approach

complemented the intrinsic was born. The sociological impact was anticipated and like

the epic the novel too had ethical and moral significance but still had to go beyond.

Criticism or interpretation should not frustrate the genius of the writer. Though it may be

argued that the author stands apart from the novel and its world apart from the real

world, the dividing line is so thin that confusion persists. When the psychological,

sociological and anthropological methods enter the arsenal of the literary critic the novel

has enlarged its scope, implication, appeal and influence. The philosophical bastions of

literary criticism and the influence of humanistic psychology and sociological sciences

have changed once and for all the methodology of literary critic.

While the critical method was developing into psychical and sociological insights,

structuralism brought in a new dimension. Theoretically the novel is structured by the

four elements: theme, plot, story and character. The content is the function of these

systemic elements. Sociological values, flowering as ethics and moral, permeated the

texture of the novel. While the theme is the central note, the plot is the skeleton, the story

is the flesh and blood and the characters are the adornments. The structure detailed above
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is a paradigm and the interpretation is the phenomenon being born out of the paradigm. It

is only the story that incorporates and breeds the symbolic personages to make them men

and women of flesh and blood. The characters are provided with adequate strength to

bear on their shoulders, the plot. The author employs symbols, myths, metaphors, and

similar other literary devices to make the novel communicate at different levels. It can be

seen that from the earliest times the episodic structure of the novel has remained and the

change or the evolution is through the themes and techniques adopted by the author. The

early novels contained plots that were predominant and the characters were secondary.

There is not even a hint regarding the awareness of the ethical or moral dimensions of

the narrative. Not withstanding the various ramifications, the novel remains the same at

the core.

The critical methods, the critical theories, and the inter-disciplinary techniques of the

critics have altered the significance of the novel through the appropriate interpretations.

Thanks to the extrinsic critical method and the polysemic nature of the language, the

novel has arrived at the high point of social relevance. The awareness of the writer

illumines the plot. The literary background creates both the structural and normative

aspects of the novel. The author‟s awareness of the teleology of the novel invests it with

sociological purpose. Successively, the novel has moved from the epistolary to the

picaresque and in the latter the unity is in the name of the characters and a thin stream of

connection between the episodes. The characters are not affected by the episodes. There

is no change in the character from the picaresque to the gothic and the change is as

between the two unconnected realms. The domestic novel which succeeded the gothic

was written in an autobiographical vein and the characters developed in a natural

atmosphere of the home and not in the medium of the plot.

Novels covering several generations become a fashion. The novels are narrative and

not speculative. They do not sport any sociological comment or even an unconscious
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purpose. The examples of such novels are Henry Fielding‟s Tom Jones, Joseph Andrews

and Emilia. John Galsworthy‟s Man of Property also belongs to this category. They are

the milestones in the growth of English novels. These novels are linear and uni-

dimensional. There is not even an inkling of a social purpose or awareness. The next

generation saw the ironical and satirical which were directed against the individuals and

did not attempt to comment or criticize or expose the weaknesses and the eccentricities

of the society. William Thackeray, Jane Austen and a few others exposed the ridiculous

affectations and idiosyncrasies of the middle-class and even the aristocracy. Austen‟s

Sense and Sensibility is a penetrating psychological study of domestic relationships.

Pride and Prejudice is comedy of manners and Emma is considered as a social comedy.

Almost at the same time George Eliot wrote her novel Silas Marner bringing in

domestic realism. Patience, pathos, and goodness are unjustly punished but there is no

rectifying note anywhere. Philip Waken in The Mill on the Floss is the earliest symbol of

an invalid individual being granted not just sympathy but recognition, acceptance, and

protection. George Meredith‟s, The Egoist is described as a social satire. The characters

are realistic and each character is a symbol of some virtue or vice. The novel reads like

an allegory and preaches social ethics rather than religious morals.

Dostoevski‟s Crime and Punishment is another step towards the sociological novel

where the parameters of the society inflict pain and punishment psychologically. It is a

novel of psychological realism. Crime and Punishment is a hypothetical treatment of the

societies‟ conscience about individual acts of crime. In Dostoevsky, the psychological

reaction to a hypothetical crime finds a parallel in the sociological aspects of the novel.

Poverty and poverty induced prostitution, the crime of the society against the individual

and a class consciousness are dealt with a deep sociological recognition. Similar to

Dostoevsky is Tolstoy‟s Anna Karenina where the sociological concerns are to the fore

and the novel blossoms as a sociological novel. It is classified as a novel of social


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criticism. Tolstoy‟s novels are a milestone in the progress of the novel towards the

sociological.

The allegorical novels are trying to preach religious values. Bunyan‟s Pilgrim’s

Progress and Lawrence Sterne‟s Tristram Shandy are typical allegorical novels. Hardy‟s

novels become the medium for communicating man‟s attitude to nature, not with

Wordsworthian optimism but with Hardy‟s pessimism. Humanism which marked the

philosophy of the nineteenth century ushered in an era of sociological novel. Dickens

had practised it. The Egoist is a kind of bridge to cross over to the really sociological

novels of Charles Dickens. His broad human sympathies, his empathy with the oppressed

and orphaned, his zeal for discovering the sunny side of life, and his sincere interest in

the betterment of life are all integrated into the theme and structure of his novels.

Diagnosis, remediation and renovation go hand in hand in the novels of Dickens.

Urbanization, capitalism, social and class inequality are the themes in his novels. Child

labour, child abuse, and apathy towards girl child are not the themes exclusively in the

contemporary society. The novel of ideas like those of Huxley, the anthropological as

those of William Golding and the novels of prognostication were all sociological in their

identity. It was about this time that the Indian fiction in English was born and without the

trauma or pangs of birth, the sociological novel was born. The political and the

philosophical as sociological forces dominated the scene of fiction in India.

The novel as sociological discourse marks the Afro-American novels like those of

Tony Morrison. Race and gender concerns, slave oppressions, apartheid, genetic and

evolutionary discrimination, exploitation of human resources, and the inhuman attitude

of the whites mark the traits of Afro-American novel. The Harlem Renaissance is a

milestone in the evolution of the identity of Blacks and their recognition as citizens of

America. Morrison was made Nobel laureate is an unmistakable acceptance of the fact

that the Blacks are not a different species but an oppressed and discriminated race of
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humanity. The Bluest Eye, Sula and a few other novels of Morrison are powerful in the

sociological discourse. Geographically distant regions which have the social concerns are

captured in her novels. Whether it is satire or irony, the sociological discourse has made

the problems yield themselves to alleviation of the pains of social oppression and

exploitation.

The novelists of the mid-twentieth century were seriously concerned about the

uncertainty of the war and post-war years. The disintegration of society, violence,

sadism, and the lack of positive optimism are the prominent themes of these novelists. A

mixture of realism, cynicism, shrewd comment and satire are used by them to express

their search for basic values. The writings of Virginia Woolf have marked a milestone in

the art of fiction. From being the telling of a story with incidents described in a linear

manner in the omniscient, it grew into a form of narration – often termed „modernist

fiction‟ – which riveted the attention of the reader. The hackneyed method of

construction is supplanted by „stream of consciousness‟ technique, a technically valuable

mode of narration. Woolf says, “Fiction is like a spider‟s web” (Nagarajan). She reacted

against the novel of social manners as produced by writers like Arnold Bennett. For her,

realities were inward and spiritual rather than outward and material. The elusiveness of

these inner realities is the recurrent theme of her novels. Her characters are seen in

search of these realities. She specialized in the „stream of consciousness‟ technique. This

method enables the novelist to analyse the mental states with accuracy. She says, “Life is

not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-

transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end”

(Nagarajan). The Indian Novel in English has had a good run and prior to Tharoor there

were others who had been acknowledged for their theme and the problems of Indian

society.
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Indian fiction in English has been the happy hunting ground for the treatment of the

problems of society both during the pre-Independence and post-Independence days. The

Indian novel in English described as twice born amply bears out such an attribute. Indian

literature has had great epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata which study the

moral, the ethical, and the regnant principles. The narration is in poetry but the concerns

are the parameters of society that governed the life of the people. It would be argued that

the two are religious epics. The Mahabharata has chapters of unconcealed societal

instruction. Not only in Bhishma‟s instruction to Yudhishtra but also in many chapters

on „Vidura Needhi.‟ In the Ramayana the governance of Ayodhya during Rama‟s exile is

an abject lesson for rulers as much as for the citizens. The sociological import of the two

epics may be disputed but the answer lies in Alexander‟s study of The Iliad. Alexander

was Aristotle‟s student. One day Aristotle assigned homework to Alexander. The teacher

asked the prince to read the Iliad and record his reactions to it. When Alexander came

with his findings Aristotle was shocked. His interpretation totally deviated from the

conventional estimate. Aristotle had expected a literary analysis but Alexander saw the

epic as an excellent military manual. Such is the interpretation of the Ramayana and the

Mahabharata in a sociological light.

Writing about the Indian novel in English, Dr.K.R.Srinivasa Iyengar observes that the

Indian novel in English is only about a century old. It was only during the middle of the

nineteenth century that the novel occupied literary space in Indian Writing in English.

The earliest novel written in Bengali was published in 1858. It was a domestic plot and a

few subsequent novels which followed it were more antiquarian or historical than

literary. Dr.Iyengar considers Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, the first writer to speak about

the need for the sociological renovation to restore the national self-respect. Rabindranath

Tagore explored the psychological space in his early novels. Sarat Chandra Chatterjee

was another patron writer of the Indian novel. Sarat Chandra Chatterjee integrated
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Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and Rabindranath Tagore. It can be said without the fear of

contradiction that these teething years of the Indian novel provided the bulwark of the

Indian novel. Only when the western breeze blew that Indian Writing in English

blossomed into a new genre typical of Indian soil but nurtured by the English model. The

freedom struggle and the years following independence showcased the Indian milieu

though American and European influences and a few oriental models dictated the theme

and the structure of the Indian novel. The sociological interests in the novels were a later

finding rather than an organic constituent. Sociological interest in literature and

specifically in the novel was the mid twentieth century phenomenon. Even the English

interpretative techniques came to be influenced by sociology only during the early

decades of the twentieth century.

There are a few earliest „Indo-Anglian‟ novels dealing with the social conditions

during the period of India‟s struggle for independence. Murugan, theTiller and Kandan,

the Patriot are studied as the structural basis of the Indian novel in English but seldom

for their sociological import. Critical studies of these two novels have debated on the

efficacy of the structure and the narrative style. However, the condition of the tiller and

oppression of the patriot are focused upon the socio-economic sides that socio-political

sides get unconsciously woven into the texture of the two novels. The political turmoil

and the police repression are on the one hand and the economic exploitation of the tiller

covers the entire gamut of the life of the society. K.S.Venkataramani‟s twin novels

though formal in style portray the society of his times. Gandhi‟s appearance on the

Indian horizon makes Murugan an exponent of Gandhian economics and Kandan an

exponent of Gandhian politics.

There is no direct sociological purpose but indirectly the novels mirror the social

upheavals. Mulk Raj Anand‟s Two Leaves and the Bud and Coolie belong to this

category. Both the novels champion the cause of the underdog without diluting their
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social predicament and the chicanery of the monied class. The metaphor of the two

leaves and the bud is not just one that picturises the bud with the two leaves beneath it

being plucked by the tea picker. People as well as the social tensions and the nipping in

the bud of social aspirations are also implied in it. In the Coolie, the focus shifts to a

different kind of exploitation and a different stratum of the society. The Untouchable is

another milestone in the sociological commitment expounded through the novel. It is a

microcosm whereas the Coolie is a macrocosm which means that the untouchable is a

circumscribed social evil whereas the coolie is a universal economic exploitation.

R.K.Narayan though the foremost among the Indian novelists has no avowed social

purpose. However the novels like The Financial Expert, The Painter of Signs, The

Bachelor of Arts, and the Talkative Man have very clear discourses on sociology.

Though social education has not been directly dealt with, it forms the leit-motif of

several novels of R.K.Narayan. There is difference between the other writers and

R.K.Narayan in the sense that he clothes the serious in the humorous whereas the others

are point blank in their address.

Unlike his predecessors Raja Rao has introduced in addition to the socio-political

concepts, the religio-philosophical spheres. His novels display a rare insight into the

impact of the religions on the socio-political. It is a genre wherein in addition to the

societal there is the cultural milieu. The three famous novels –The Serpent and the Rope,

Kanthapura and The Cat and Shakespeare deal with the three main schools of Vedantic

philosophy of Advaita, Dvaita and Vishistadvaita. The three titles are eloquent

metaphors that suggest the whole range of philosophy implied in those schools of

thought. Religion cannot be separated from the society and so these novels have social

dimensions to them touching upon the social implications of philosophic persuasions.

The Serpent and the Rope has an episode which illustrates the cultural and

sentimental dimensions of religion. The novel Kanthapura is an analysis of the Gandhian


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political philosophy of Satyagraha and Ahimsa. A problem specific to the Indian polity is

that of prohibition of intoxicating drinks. The toddy trade had eroded into the slender

finances of the peasants and the weavers and caused much domestic unrest. One of the

planks of Gandhi‟s social philosophy is prohibition. The problem had drawn the attention

of social reformers and thinkers like Periyar. Rajaji in his “Dikkatra Parvathi” [The

Destitute Parvathi] examines in detail the domestic and social ramifications of

prohibition. The pendulum had always oscillated and quite satirically reached the

extreme of state sponsored drinking.

In a study of the two novels, Raja Rao indulges in a comparison which brings out the

sociological dimensions of the two novels. “To compare the small with the great (in

terms of quality, that is, not of quantity), if Kanthapura is Raja Rao‟s Ramayana, then

The Serpent and the Rope is his Mahabharata” (Iyengar 397). The „Big Three‟ ruled the

roost till the arrival of the novelists like Bhabani Bhattacharya, Manohar Malgonkar,

Arun Joshi and several other women novelists in the post-Independence period.

Mulgonkar‟s Bend in the Ganges is a powerful political drama in the backdrop of

effervescent and ebullient society caught in the whirlpool of freedom struggle with the

twin forces of violence and Ahimsa causing an eddy in social life. Bhattacharya is a

contemporary to Malgonkar. His novels are considered an achievement in the field of

Indian English. The Sahitya Akademi Award has underlined this fact. The uncertainties,

the hardships, frustrations, agonies and cruelties and the plight of humanity in general are

captured with rare insight. His first novel is a preamble to his second novel which

unfolds the story of a largely man-made hunger that took a toll of two million innocent

men, women and children. The writer‟s use of condemnatory tone thunders against the

hoarders, profiteers and black marketers. The author‟s focus is on how the social values

had degenerated into a heartless inhuman callousness for the suffering.


17

The novelist paints the naked horror of it with pitiless precision and cumulative detail.

The war is evil and has made the government blindly fiendish in its operations. “They

had scorched the boats. They had scorched the food. They would scorch the people”

(Iyengar 413). The passing of the „Quit India‟ resolution in August 1942, followed by the

mass arrest of leaders, led to a convulsion without a parallel, and this gave the last

vicious twist to the Bengal tragedy which, of a sudden, burst its tenuous bonds and

became a nightmarish drama of general disintegration.

In a country where even now woman empowerment is a matter of constitutional

enactment, even in the fifties women novelists ventured into portraying the social

inequities. Most important among them are Kamala Markandaya, and Ruth Prawer

Jhabvala. Dr.K.R.S.Iyengar observes that Kamala Markandaya takes us to the heart of

the South Indian village where life has apparently not changed for centuries. Modern

industries and modern technologies have invaded the villages in the shape of a tannery,

which is a great threat and may lead sinister consequences. Markandaya writes that fear,

hunger and despair are the constant companions of the peasants.

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala is slightly different in the sense that her novels are placed in the

decade between 1955 and 1965. Dr.Iyengar speaks of Jhabvala as the Indo-Anglian.

Anita Desai brings up the rear with her exploration of the “modern Indian sensibility that

is ill at ease among the barbarians and the philistines, the anarchists and the amoralists”

(Iyengar 464). Many other novelists notable among them are Shantha Ramarao,

Shakunthala Shriganesh, Nayantara Sehgal have to be studied to get a total picture of the

sociological concerns of the Indian novelists in English.

There seems to be a time lag between the diagnostic social discourse in the Indian

Fiction in English and the critical and diagnostic attitudes of the later novels. Post

colonialism has its own limitation having cast upon the writers of the period and the fear

of the Raj. Persecution, incarceration, and political ostracism were in the offing for those
18

who dare the British Raj. The psychological fear continued. Jawaharlal Nehru in his

memorable lecture and then Gandhi came and capture vividly the all encompassing fear

of the police, law, oppression and so many other fears. Nehru wondered how the Indian

ethos which had always championed the cause of freedom and fearlessness subjected

itself to such impenetrable darkness of fear. It took Gandhi several years before he could

inspire his compatriots to bear their booze out to the British bullet. Moral courage was

the high road. However, after independence the woes of artisans and the travails of

exodus perpetuated policing and intimidation. That was why Indian fiction in English did

not blossom into the satirical mode. The later events, in the name of national integrity

rolled out many measures which threatened the polity with almost dictatorial tendencies.

Tharoor‟s adopting the epic paradigm of the Mahabharata gave him both the strength

and protection to satirise on the Indian polity. The satire is not as carping or critical as

the English satirical novelists because unlike the English satires which did not have a

cultural paradigm, the Indian satirical novelist has satirical observations on the events of

the Mahabharata that could be easily passed on as criticism of the epic while reflecting

on the contemporary political and social situation. The problems in the Mahabharata are

of division, administration, rectitude and succession which are the problems of an

emergent independent India. The Mahabharata gives Tharoor the prophetic

prognostication of the India to be. Tharoor needed but fixing the events against the

episodes of the Mahabharata and parody the national characters in the light of the

characters of the Mahabharata. The sketch of the Mahabharata became a completed

painting of the Indian novel.

Indian fiction in English has earned a good repute in the post-modern literary world.

Authors, critics, readers, researchers, and students have started evincing interest in

knowing the world of literature in broader perspective. The particular field of Indian

fiction in English has witnessed a noticeable readership across the world. It is mostly
19

through their imaginative creation that the novelists of Indian Writing in English have

brilliantly presented the current themes of social, cultural, political, economic, and many

more issues related to pre and post Independent India. Novels challenge, in a variety of

ways, the traditional perception of an ordered and coherent world which underpins the

pretensions to reproduce reality in fiction although the very idea of “reality” conflicts

with the term “fiction.” But then, “Truth is stranger than fiction” (Twain n.pag.) and the

function of fiction is to reveal the ultimate reality, that is, the Truth, though this end may

be achieved by imagination working in tandem with an acceptance of empirical reality.

Fiction offers the aesthetic pleasure of complexities, complications, suspense, and

unravelment. Many binary opposites are represented side by side – live experiences and

fantasy, fictional history and contemporaneity go into the making of many novels. If

modernism evinced a desire to escape from a chaotic contemporary history into a more

reassuring past, postmodernism can be said to represent a further step in the literary

movement away from the burden of history. “History itself, with all its modern horrors,

has become too awesome a subject for most modern writers and critics to contemplate.

Silence, fantasy, and myth, science fiction, grotesque comedy, meta-fiction, surrealistic

fiction and fables – these seem to be the only responses possible” (Afzal-Khan 137) to

socio-religious and political handicaps of the latter half of the twentieth century.

India‟s contribution to world literature of the twentieth century has been mostly in the

field of fiction in English. An unprecedented large number of Indian novelists, many of

whom have proved themselves competent as storytellers and innovative as

experimenters, seem to be able to give expression to their creative urge in no other

language than English. Indian novels in English, although a distinctive and notable force

in world fiction, constitute an obviously paradoxical genre. Though that, the creative

expression of a nation is being sought in an alien medium in addition to its own rich

literary heritage, both oral and written, and also a plenitude in regional languages.
20

There were only 150 million abjectly poor people in India around 1950. Today about

sixty years later, India has more than 300 million abjectly poor people. India still has the

world‟s largest number of poor people in a single country. Nearly seventy-five percent of

them are in villages. Indian fiction in English has always held a mirror up to Indian

social life and down the decades, it has explored the varied facets of Indian society. The

gruesome poverty, the political crisis, the trauma of partition, religious fanaticism, and

riots, social changes, cultural conflicts, experiences of alienation and anarchy, illiteracy,

child labour, women subjugation, immorality, black money, corruption, evils of dowry,

immorality, innocence, social inequality, dangers to the sovereignty by intrusion or

invasion of foreign economy, power politics, tax evasion – all these have figured on the

pages of the Indian novel in English in general and Shashi Tharoor in particular.

The new fiction of the 1980s presents a virtual mosaic in terms of thematic variety,

differences in taste, perceptions, and presentational styles. The literary scene is renewed

and quickened by the opening up of new possibilities and innovative techniques to give

expression to an utterly changed sociological, political, economic, and cultural

landscape. The 1980s marked a watershed in the annals of the Indian novel in English for

a variety of reasons. Some promising novelists published their first works which vouch

for their originality and unprecedented inventiveness as also the courage to break free of

meaningless literary conventions.

The Indian novel in English of the 1980s is different from its precursors both in

technique and sensibility. One of the significant and vital aspects of the contemporary

social life of India is the co-presence of many cultures, a potential challenge for any

contemporary writer. “Today‟s novelists inherit a frontier less, de-territorialised world

and are as polycultural as they are cosmopolitan” (Doreswamy 45).

The writers of the 1980s, in an attempt to harmonize the conflicting experiences into a

meaningful pattern, respond to the impinging experience of multicultural heterogeneity.


21

Conflict inherent in the human psyche is mainly owing to the uniqueness of the person,

and it recurs in every area of human activity, be it personal, professional, familial, social,

cultural, economic, political, psychological or spiritual. Contemporary fiction is marked

by a sense of multiplicity, fragmentation, instability of meaning, dissensions, breakdown

of assumptions and heterogeneity rather than consensus and totality.

The new writers have faithfully lived up to this definition in their portrayal of modern

India. The 80s also witnessed Indian novelists and their works acquiring unprecedented

honours and recognition. As Viney Kirpal points out, “If international acclaim is any

measure of literary merit, then it is fascinating to note that almost every second novel of

the 80s has been awarded a prize or has been short listed for it” (Kirpal xiv).

Indian Writing in English has become an independent and outstanding creedal writing

in Common Wealth Literature. The 1980s and 90s saw a renaissance of Indian Writing in

English which has been spearheaded by Salman Rusdie with his path breaking novel

Midnight Children. Rushdie is well known as a courageous writer. He depicts magical

realism in his novels. Vikram Seth is best known for his epic novel, A Suitable Boy. He

is the distinguished winner of the WH Smith Literary Award and the Commonwealth

Writers Prize. An Indian novelist and social activist, Arundhathi Roy rose to fame with

her maiden novel God of Small Things. The commercial success of her novel has

changed radically about the perception of Indian authors. Rohinton Mistry is an

acclaimed Indian author in the global arena. His debut novel Such a Long Journey won

the Commonwealth Writers Prize. His books shed light on the issues that affect the Parsi

community in India. V.S. Naipaul is a Nobel laureate. He writes scathing commentaries

on developing countries like India or the Caribbean. Amitav Ghosh is an anthropologist

and prolific writer. He is the producer of the most lyrical and insightful works on the

effect of colonization on the native people. Upamanyu Chatterjee is best known for his

short stories, and novels like English and August recreate life in Indian family system.
22

His wry sense of humour and realistic portrayal of India has given us the witty and

amusing. Jhumpa Lahiri won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Her second book The

Namaste was made into a film. She writes about the cultural identity of Indians in a far

off land.Tharoor is a writer with immense calibre in writing social novels in the

postmodern technique.

Author of novels, short stories, scholarly texts, numerous commentaries and editorial

essays, Tharoor has won accolades for his creative style and incisive analysis. In 2001,

the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington, awarded him a honourary degree

of Doctor of Letters in International Affairs. He won the Commonwealth Writer‟s Prize

in 1991 and the Rajika Kirpalini young Journalistic Award in 1976. In the United States,

Tharoor has been honoured by the South Asian Journalism Association at Columbia

University and the Network of Indian Professionals, and is presented with an Excelsior

Award for excellence in literature by the association of Indians in America. Most of the

critics and reviewers praise Tharoor‟s works for being historically informative and

politically incisive. Some reviewers have commented that his elaborate allegories about

Indian religion, culture and politics are charmingly executed. Elie Wiesel, a Nobel

Laureate considers Tharoor “as a major voice in Contemporary literature” (Riot blurb).

Tharoor is an Indian politician and a Member of Parliament from Thiruvananthapuram

constituency in Kerala. He is a high-profile diplomat with the UNS and served as the

United Nations Under-Secretary General for Communications and public Information

and as the Minister of State for the Ministry of External Affairs. Chairman of Dubai-

based Afras Ventures and former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr.

Shashi Tharoor was the official candidate of India for the succession to UN Secretary-

General Kofi Annan in 2006, and occupied the second position out of seven contenders

in the race. His career began in 1978, when he joined the staff of the United Nations

High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva. He is a prolific author, columnist and a


23

human rights advocate. He is the son of Chandra and Lila Tharoor and was born in 1956

in London. He attended primary school at Montfort School in Yercaud, Salem in Tamil

Nadu and secondary schools in Bombay and Calcutta and earned his bachelor‟s degree in

history from St. Stephen‟s College in New Delhi. He did his postgraduate work in the

United States and got his doctoral degree from the Fletcher School of Law and

Diplomacy at Tufts University at the age of 22. He is very handsome. He is a great

communicator and has a lucid style. Politically he seems to be a genuine liberal with an

attachment to Nehruvian secularism. “…India … was like an ancient palimpsest on

which layer upon layer of thought and reverie had been inscribed, and yet no succeeding

layer had completely hidden or erased what had been written previously …Though

outwardly there was diversity and infinite variety among our people …” (qtd.in India

127).

Tharoor‟s literary works are classified under three heads: Fiction, Non-fiction and

Illustrated books. His Fictions are The Great Indian Novel (1989), Show Business (1992)

and Riot (2001). The Five Dollar Smile and Other Stories is a short story published

in1990, His Non-fictions are Reasons of State: Political Development and India’s

Foreign Policy (1982), Shadows Across the Playing Field: Sixty Years of India-Pakistan

Cricket [with Shaharyar Khan](2009). India: From Midnight to the Millennium (a

docunovel 1997).The Elephant, the Tiger and the Cell Phone (2007), Bookless in

Baghdad (2005),Nehru: The Invention of India (2003), and His Illustrated Books are

Kerala; God’s own country (2002) [with artist M.F. Husain], L‟Inde (French) and India

(English) (2008) [with photographer Ferrante Ferranti].

Apart from his literary works, Tharoor‟s contribution to journalism is highly

commendable. He has been a columnist in the best-known English newspapers- The

Hindu (2001-2008) The Times of India (2007-2008), presently in the Deccan Chronicle,

previously for Gentleman magazine, the Indian Express, Newsweek International, and
24

International Herald Tribune. His Op-Eds and book reviews have appeared in the

Washington Post, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, among other papers.

His monthly column, “India Reawakening” distributed by Project Syndicate, appears in

some 80 newspapers around the world. He began writing at the age of six. His first

publication appeared in the “Bharat Jyoti”, the Sunday edition of the “Free Press

Journal,” in Mumbai at the age of ten. His World War II adventure novel Operation

Bellows, inspired by the Biggles books, was serialized in the Junior Statesman starting a

week before his 11th birthday. Each of his books has undergone many re-prints and is a

best-seller in India. In January 1998, Dr. Tharoor was named a “Global Leader of

Tommorow” by the world Economic forum in Devos, Switzerland. His books have been

translated into French, German, Italian, Malayalam, Marathi, Polish, Romanian, Russian

and Spanish. In January 1998, Dr. Tharoor was named a “Global leader of Tomorrow”

by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Tharoor has lectured widely on

India. As a diplomat, he wants to make a difference through politics.

Tharoor was a theatre buff and successful actor in his school days. He played Antony

to Mira Nair‟s Cleopatra in a 1974 production of Antony and Cleopatra. In the early

1970‟s at St. Stephen College, he founded the Quiz Club, which is still extant. He also

revived the Woodhouse society, a reading club in the college. He has been an elected

Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities and a member of the Advisory

Board of the Indo-American Arts council and also served on the Board of Directors of

Breakthrough, an international Human rights organization, the Board of Overseers of the

Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the Board of trustees of the Aspen Institute, and

as an International Advisor to the International Committee of the Red Cross. He supports

various educational causes, including as the Patron of the Modern High School in Dubai.

Being a suave metropolitan, Tharoor explains the history of India and its cultural

traditions, and political conditions through diasporic, post colonial, sojourner and
25

cosmopolitan models while speaking about India. There is a tenuous connectivity

between the experimental reality and his nostalgic memories. „Romanticized utopianism‟

is vividly seen in his writings. Aesthetics is the watch-word in his imaginative literature

as well as journalistic prose. Being a techno-savvy, Tharoor is known for inventing new

ideals and experimenting newer techniques in his works. To a specific question what

unique Indian perspective he has contributed as a writer, Tharoor says, “he draws his

inspiration from the world “novel” itself, which “implies and obligation to do something

new each time” (Riot 135). As such, he adds that he has not only tried to experiment

with the tales he had told, but also with the manner of telling of these tales in his three

novels. Tharoor observes that novels in the traditional way are too easy to write. They

depict a story, in a linear narrative, from start to finish. But he would like to write a novel

in a different way: “…that reads like-like an encyclopedia ... something in which you can

turn to any page and read. It‟s like each bit of reading adds to the sum total of the

reader‟s knowledge, just like an encyclopedia” (135-36).

Tharoor suggests that a successful novel should contain all the nine emotional

elements. He says, “I‟d have all the classic elements of the novel in it.... the ancient

Sanskrit text on drama, the Natya Shastra, prescribes the nine essential emotional

elements that must go into any work of entertainment: love, hate, joy, sorrow, pity,

disgust, courage, pride, and compassion” (136). His commentaries and editorials are

lyrical, witty, and contain allusions to art, literature, and culture. The dry language of his

academic prose and the familiar language of journalism are supplanted by arabesque and

innovative narrative techniques.

Novelty is the forte of Tharoor. His India: From Midnight to the Millennium is a

successful experiment in writing a new genre called “docunovel” in which he combines

small narratives that exemplify historical events, and it is an ethnographic account to

explain India‟s caste, class, and regional idiosyncrasies. Geetha Rajan comments, “It can
26

be read as a bildungsroman that plots the narrator‟s rite of passage, which mirrors the

nation‟s maturity, in which political intrigues and religious intolerance are the dragons to

be stayed” (qtd. in Jaina Sanga 282). Many critics have observed that The Great Indian

Novel is a blatant but masterful copy of the Hindu epic the Mahabharata. No one has

worked at this work from a purely genre perspective. It can be read as an anthology of

short stories that retell the Mahabharata ancient (mythical) and the dynastic battles

between the Pandavas (good) and the Kauravas (evil) framed in rich, historically layered

detail framed as the political battles in Post-Independence India. Considering, The Great

Indian Novel‟s close parallelism with the Mahabharata, Gita Rajan comments, “it is

episodic, fragmentary, lyrical, and didactic, but it cannot be defined as an epic because

the focus on contemporary events limits a large scale historic scope. It is too convoluted

and fractional in plot and style to fit the traditional genre category of a novel” (Jaina

Sanga 284). In this novel he has shown how a combination of British colonization and an

uncritical sense of nationalism have damaged India. Most of the chapters explain how

such a rare combination spawned the nation‟s contemporary political problems. This is

one of the reasons why the episodic structure works because Tharoor is able to move

between past and present under the guise of allegory.

Tharoor believes firmly on the ambivalence of both politics and history which are the

significant constituents shaping India. It may be the preoccupation of his mind that the

play of politics and the hand of history in determining the fate of Indian society but they

are the recurring traits in his fictions, non-fictions, and interviews. Even though Tharoor

uses history as an alibi with persistent hopefulness in his speech and writing about India,

he is still skeptic about the authenticity of history. In an interview with David Gergen,

Tharoor says, “We condemned ourselves to an economic system where we were

regulating stagnation and trying to distribute poverty….The fact is one of the lessons you

learn from history is that history teaches you the wrong lessons” (Gita Rajan qtd. in Jaina
27

Sanga 282). Tharoor‟s next significant work Show Business contains as an interesting

portrayal of India‟s film industry. It serves as one of the most popular forms of

entertainment for the millions of the people of the land. The Indian film industry dubbed

“Bollywood” by academics and journalists, has a huge impact on the Indian diaspora all

over the globe. His genre experiments are revealed in the manner in which his novel

moves between monologues and democratic scripts, while still managing to keep the

story line in tact. In Riot, he uses different voices, different stylistic forms for different

fragments of the story. He tells his story through various modes such as diary entries,

newspaper clipings etcetera.

Shashi Tharoor‟s novels are written in pristine Queen‟s English with an almost

Wodehousian tongue-in-check manner. His novels are unique in its composition. Unlike

the conventional novels of telling stories, Tharoor has infused scholarly views of writers

like a research work presented in an art form. Tharoor‟s usual tone is playful, and he

enjoys poking fun at literary composition. He has evolved the style best suited for

depicting India. He uses Hinglish very often in his novels, which is evident through the

glossary provided at the end of his texts, and is conventional in his style. He considers

India as his chief source of inspiration. He admits, “I can‟t see myself straying very far

from the path of irreverence even in dealing with very serious subjects.” (qtd. in

Shyamala 44). Tharoor reproduces the kind of English actually used by many in India –

the language used by Ezekiel in his “Very Indian Poem in Indian English.” (Shyamala

42) Tharoor‟s work enjoys a distinction not always shared by other critically acclaimed

novels – it is very readable, and it is the exhuberance of the language which makes it so.

To understand the core of Tharoor‟s fiction, one must comprehend the foundational

sentiments in his rhetoric on India along with his fictional and non-fictional works. Gita

Rajan opines that Tharoor speaks of India in reasoned, cultural tones, and he wants to

persuade his readers, and the inherent value in the idea of “India.” Tharoor is an
28

amalgamation of diplomacy, social thinking, and great humanism. He is very much

concerned with India and Indians. His breath, thinking, speech, writing, and works are

confined to India. It is revealed in one of his articles in New York Times: “… Read my

books and those of other Indian writers not because we‟re Indian, not necessarily

because you are interested in India, but because they are worth reading in and of

themselves. And, dear reader, whoever you are, if you pick up one of my books, asks not

for whom I write: I write for you” (Geetha Rajan qtd. in Jaina Sanga 285).

Tharoor‟s love for India is projected in one of his characters in Riot which is evident

in the following utterance, and it would become a statement for each and every Indian.

… I love this country. I love it not just because I was born here, as my father and

mother were, as their parents before them were, not just because their graves have

mingled their bones into the soil of the land. I love it because I know it, I have

studied its history, I have traveled its geography, I have breathed its polluted air, I

have written words to its music. India shaped me, my mind, my tastes, my

friendship, my passion … (112).

Complacence, reticence, hesitation, lack of daring, and fear of repression have made

the Indian novelists maintain a low profile. A wait of slightly more than a decade made

the voice of the Indian novelists in English satirical. As in English literature where satire

began with Swift in his Gulliver’s Travels, and Battle of the Books moved through the

poetry of Dryden and Pope and began to dominate from the time of Thackeray and Jane

Austen. In Indian Fiction in English, the evolution from reticence to Renaissance has

given us some valuable writing in the form of satire. Tharoor is a forerunner and has

used both myth and history to a satirical advantage. He is not fighting with faceless

ghosts or indulging in shadow-boxing. He fearlessly satirises the Indian society at

different levels and different themes. Shiela Singam says, “Shashi Tharoor must surely

be the Indian subcontinent‟s foremost master of satire” (1). In subsequent chapters, this
29

thesis examines the three novels of Tharoor that expose the ironical, the comical and the

absurd in the Indian quality. Even though he is a born aristocrat, his understanding of

Indian culture, society or politics is particularly profound and penetrating.

Novel can be defined as a social process. Tharoor‟s novels are a standing example of

the unmistakable discourse. The novel as satire is a great phenomenon because it needed

the freedom of an independent and democratic society to voice eloquently and forcibly,

the process that structured and directed the society. It is against this background that this

thesis has taken up for analysis the contemporary predicament of man in three

dimensions namely the political, the cultural, and the social which are the cornerstones of

the contemporary India. The satire as a literary device is both enjoyable and thought-

stimulating. The satirist may be maligned but is certainly taken seriously. As Dryden

claims, “the true end of satire was the amendment of vices” (Cuddon 777), Tharoor has

shown the remedy for the problems.

A study of Tharoor‟s novels reveals his unbridled enthusiasm on Indians and his

unrelenting concern in redressing the predicament of the contemporary man. The

problems chosen, the treatments used, the techniques employed, references and cross

references utilised are horizontally linked and vertically united. Since the works of

Tharoor are a Manuel of life to the leaders as well as to the common man, they are to be

analysed thread bare. Based on this view, the researcher has attempted to analyse the

cause, and course under the title “Contemporary Human Predicament in the Select

Novels of Shashi Tharoor”. The researcher has opted to study on this topic as no detailed

analysis of the writer‟s novels on this aspect has been taken so far. The study makes use

of concepts and ideas from Sociology, Psychology, Post Modernism, Post Colonialism,

Feminism, Deconstruction and New Historicism.

The present study is divided into five chapters. The first one is “Introduction” – The

inherent trait of novel as Sociological Discourse which is historical in character the scope
30

and content of the novels from its origin are briefly sketched. The second chapter titled,

“Political Predicament” examines the socio-political satire in The Great Indian Novel.

The third chapter “Cultural Predicament” discloses the exploitation of the celluloid on its

viewers as showcased in Show Business. The fourth chapter entitled, “Social

Predicament” unearths the causes of communal riots and other social ills of the people

from his Riot. In the final and concluding chapter the ideas and findings of the previous

chapters are consolidated and projected as a methodology for the future research

aspirants.

The present chapter has analysed the dynamics of the sociological novels in general

and Tharoor‟s place in this genre in particular. Eakambaram, N. and K. Geetha say,

“Today‟s history was the politics of yesterday and today‟s politics the history of

tomorrow” (77). Based on this principle the next chapter analyses the characteristics of

the rulers and finds out their pitfalls. It tries to unearth the various political causes and

courses for the predicament of the people of the 20th century with reference to The Great

Indian Novel.