The Rose and the Lotus

Partnership Studies in the Works of Raja Rao


Raja Rao, one of the founding figures of Indian English literature, is re-examined in this comprehensive study of his fiction, which offers a fresh critical investigation into both his short stories and his novels. Powerfully contradicting the long-held perception of Raja Rao as a mere metaphysical writer and the true bard of quintessential Indianness, projected by many critics of the first Commonwealth generation over three decades, Stefano Mercanti posits Rao’s fiction in terms of its dialogic interaction – the ‘partnership’ – between Western and Eastern cultural traditions and demonstrates how it evolves during the course of his oeuvre on both the philosophical and the political level. The title, The Rose and the Lotus, signals the discursive terrain for a multicultural and interwoven evolution among different cultures, and points to the need for valuing relations of reciprocity rather than those of domination. Far from conveying univocal configurations and nationalistic stereotypes, Rao’s idea of India is seen as the epicentre of many echoes and dynamic resonances, both Western and Eastern, through which a distinct blend of Indian and European influences is more clearly unravelled. In this new critical re-appraisal, Mercanti draws on non-binary and inter/multi-disciplinary paradigms, thus signalling the complex transformations and multiple negotiations of a polyglot India caught between the cultural twilight of the modern and the traditional. The study also offers an invaluable linguistic analysis of Rao’s experiment with the English language, supplemented by a detailed glossary.
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Biographical Note

Stefano Mercanti is Research Fellow and member of the Partnership Studies Group (PSG) at the University of Udine, where he completed his PhD. on Raja Rao’s short-stories. As an Indian Council for Cultural Relations scholarship recipient, he obtained a further PhD, on Raja Rao’s novels, at Bangalore University. His writings on postcolonial literatures, multiculturalism, and partnership literary theory have appeared in several academic journals. His publications include L’India dell’immaginazione nei racconti di Raja Rao (2006).

Table of contents

Acknowledgments A Note on the Text Introduction The Burden of Indianness The Politics of Truth In Other Words Partnership and Multiculturalism Chapter One: The Short Stories The Cow of the Barricades and Other Stories The Policeman and the Rose On the Ganga Ghat Chapter Two: The Painful Search Kanthapura Comrade Kirillov The Serpent and the Rope Chapter Three: Reconciling the Self The Cat and Shakespeare The Chessmaster and His Moves Conclusion Glossary Chronology Select Bibliography Index