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The English Teacher

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  2,804 Ratings  ·  156 Reviews
R. K. Narayan (1906—2001) witnessed nearly a century of change in his native India and captured it in fiction of uncommon warmth and vibrancy. The title character in The English Teacher, Narayan’s most autobiographical novel, searches for meaning when the death of his young wife deprives him of his greatest source of happiness. This pioneering novel, luminous in its detail ...more
ebook, 192 pages
Published July 25th 2012 by Vintage (first published October 1st 1980)
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Ian Laird
Correction to an important geographical detail (thanks Parthi) and minor edits 31 March 2016.

In south India, Krishnan, a young English teacher, is joined by his wife, Susila, and baby daughter Leela.

They are able to set up a household together for the first time. Shortly thereafter, Susila contracts typhoid and dies. Krishnan, bereft, holds on through his love of his child, and with the help of his mother-in-law. Later, he makes contact with Susila in the spirit world and starts a new, more fulf
Paul Bryant
Jul 29, 2013 Paul Bryant rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, india

This was like walking into a plate glass door, bang! right on the nose, didn’t see it coming at all, ouch ouch. It was also like having one of those distressing conversations with a good friend where you go - what was that you just said? You don’t seriously believe that do you? - after which things get really awkward and you have to re-evaluate everything you thought they were. I previously read three RKN novels and thought they were a joy as everyone does, hence my consternation.

So, to be clea
Rajat Ubhaykar
Jan 02, 2011 Rajat Ubhaykar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Public toilets in India always leave me breathless, with relief and also with lack of air. They also bring to mind the subtle differences between oft misused words such as available and accessibile, by virtue of being inaccessible even when they are available, which is not very often. A curious peek inside one transports the most hardened hearts and most insensitive noses to a well-stocked chemistry lab paying olfactory tribute to Messrs Haber & Bosch. On certain busy days, I'm told one can ...more
مروان البلوشي
تاريخ القراءة الأصلي : ٢٠٠٢
معلم هندي يدرس اللغة الإنجليزية في مدينة هندية صغيرة في أواخر عهد الإستعمار البريطاني. هنا تجد التفاعلات حافلة ومكتوبة بأسلوب حي وقريب للقلب.
Jul 30, 2007 Sandhya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has loved and lost...
R. K. Narayan is an absolute favourite of mine and some of his works are undoubtedly masterpieces.
His The English Teacher is the third part of Narayan's trilogy after Malgudi Days and The Bachelor of Arts (for review, you could check out

The first part of this particular book is brilliant and extremely touching but the second part moves into very unexpected territory, leaving one a bit confused. Yet, if you are a Narayan fan, I would still go ahead and recommend this book to
Apr 04, 2016 Bina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The English Teacher is set in India of the 150s and we meet Krishna, our protagonist, as he is living in a college hostel and teaching English at the school where he himself used to be a pupil. Despite living in this enclosed environment, he is married and has a young child. We see Krishna taking small steps, making preparations for his wife and child to join him and so setting off to find a good house, where they can be together as well as have a space away from each other. The discussions with ...more
Petra Eggs
As always with Narayan, the writing is a joy to read. The prose flows smoothly, the descriptions come to life and dialogue reads as true. I liked the story too (I won't spoil it by giving it away) but the metaphysical aspects were not believable and once I reached that part of the book, it became a bit heavy-going.

Some authors, especially South American ones like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Amado, have such a touch writing magical realism that you automatically accept those aspects as cred
Jul 30, 2011 Laysee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gem of a book. Elegant prose. It tells the story of Krishnan's grief over the loss of his wife and his desperate attempts to commune with her beyond the grave. On another level, it explores what gives meaning to work. Krishnan's lack lustre role as an English teacher is contrasted with the passionate commitment of the poor school master who runs a preschool for the neighborhood children. Teachers of literature would be able to identify with the exhilaration of seeking to enthuse students about ...more
Deepika Ramesh
Jun 21, 2014 Deepika Ramesh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even before you begin to read my review, I must confess that I'm a die-hard fan of R.K. Narayan for his poignant stories bail me out of this mundane world effortlessly. While all the authors, whom I have acquainted through their books, help me escape reality, R.K. Narayan makes it hard to go back to the real world after reading his books as readers like me suffer from the inability to comfort our souls that want to live in Malgudi and refuse to accept this sphere. Yes, so, please forgive me if y ...more
Oct 11, 2012 Prashant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I swear that if anyone else, any other author would have crafted the story line similar to this book, I would have hated him. Must have cursed him with all my heart and would also have made an attempt or two to leave the book midway.

But no sir, not Mr. Narayan. He won't let me do it.

Every time my thoughts went awry he built a new wave of ideas to bring me back. The reader is coaxed and cajoled as much as the characters to keep going and take it all head on. A little bit too literally, I must s
Mehwish Mughal
Dec 31, 2014 Mehwish Mughal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Reading R.K.Narayan is like time-travelling to another dimension. Hypnotized and disconnected from reality. The English Teacher is no exception. It is a journey towards understanding life and death!

Phil Barker
Aug 20, 2012 Phil Barker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the way Narayan writes so that you can hear the Indian voices. Doesn't really matter what the story is, he gives you a glimpse into another world.
Jun 26, 2012 Pushpa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An intensely spiritual book. And an intensely human book. It has the whole myriad of experiences a normal person would have in his life. You smile along during the happy days of the couple, you get this sinking feeling when the wife falls ill, gets worse day by day. You celebrate when she shows signs of improvement. You feel the husband's utter despair when he loses his wife.

You need not believe the metaphysical part in the book. Even so, you sure will appreciate what is being communicated in t
Anushree Rastogi
Dec 05, 2010 Anushree Rastogi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all those who look for meaningful, soulful writing
An intensely spiritual book, the transition in the narrator's life from being a bachelor to moving on to a happy married life...and the consequent death of his wife is heart touching. A particularly moving part of the story is the description of the day when his wife dies. The way he seeks to find her presence in his surroundings.. his supernatural encounters.. the innocence of his daughter... the most insignificant details are perfect and in sync with the storyline. This book is nothing short o ...more
I found 'English Teacher' quite different from R.K.Narayan's other works. It may be because this one is more serious and deals with the spiritual side. It is a poignant narration of how the loss of a loved one(for Krishna, the protagonist) or from constantly waiting for death to deciding to live life more fully(for the schoolmaster) changes the course of life.
Gorab Jain
Jan 28, 2016 Gorab Jain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indian, 2016
Didn't like the intervention of supernatural powers... otherwise 5 star stuff!!
Husband wife relation is very cutely and realistically portrayed! The child is very innocent raising cute little curious questions everytime :)
Suhasini Srihari
Dec 15, 2012 Suhasini Srihari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice read! Found the 'platonic love' between Krishna and Sushila more inspiring and the later 'spiritual love' more ecstatic! R.K.Narayan has the connection of the scenes in a nice flow and one need not look back to revise before reading further.
Jan 07, 2012 Lilian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fairly simple book to read, once I got myself into it. It is compelling and interesting, but it wasn't until I reached the final paragraph that I felt it was truly beautiful.
R.K. Narayan does not write in a particularly complicated way. He was fluent in English and was one of the founders of English language Indian literature (or so the Internet tells me), and the simplicity of writing is deceptive. The focus instead is on the lives of the characters, their inner thoughts and emotions, and their way of life.

The English Teacher is about an English teacher, who has been working away from his young family for a while at a university in the Malgudi universe, the settin
Akshay Dasgupta
Jun 26, 2016 Akshay Dasgupta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
They say time is the best healer but time never heals. It may blur memories or emotions but its NEVER heals. When we suffer the tragic loss of a near and dear one, it is impossible to forget that person, no matter how many years pass by. Thats why i say time never heals but it helps us to put memories and emotions into a small box at the back of our mind. As time passes we open that box sometimes and rummage through the memories and emotions. I guess that's just how the human mind works and cope ...more
Annette mathews
A different take on Spirituality. While i was reading this book, i got typhoid, which was really strange(not sure if that is the right word to use here) since the teacher's wife in the novel was down with typhoid too and she dies. I gave up reading this book right away after getting to know that i was down with typhoid.Part of me giving such low ratings is due to this. Its too much of coincidence. I dont know what made me to take up the book again.Well, i have finished it . It was a light read. ...more
Balaji Sankara Moorthy
"The English Teacher" is all about life and its reflections. At times, the life will take us by storm and throw us in abyss. Yet we may have to find happiness for one or other reasons. Likewise, Krishnan, the protagonist in this novel loses his beloved wife and starts living solely for his young daughter. Despite several frets and frustrations he finds a way to lead a contented life. The second half of the story may be quite dragging but at the end the story will leave the reader very much satis ...more
Kanagarajan iyer
Krishna, a lecturer in Albert Mission College, Malgudi is the protagonist of the novel. He is in hostel with Rangappa, the philosophy teacher and Gopal taking mathematics. His chief is Mr Brown.
His senior in college is Gajapathy, Asst. Prof. of English.

His father suggests to fix up a house on rent and start his life with his wife, Sushila and the new born baby.

House has been fixed. His wife and mother arrive. He is very fond of his wife. Both daughter-in-law and mother-in-law are in good terms.
Rishi Prakash
May 29, 2013 Rishi Prakash rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was written by the great man in 1945 and is considered to be the third and final part in the series, preceded by Swami and Friends (1935) and The Bachelor of Arts (1937).

This novel, dedicated to Narayan's wife Rajam is not only autobiographical but also poignant in its intensity of feeling. Rajam died of typhoid in 1939. It is said that her death affected Narayan deeply and he remained depressed for a long time; he was also concerned for their daughter Hema, who was only three years o
Jun 17, 2010 Sachin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The novel which records the personal experiences of the Author after the death of his wife. Extremely disappointed after the death of his wife, due to a minor fever which took larger proportions, the protagonist is unable to come to terms with life, until one day, when a boy comes and delivers him the message from his dead wife. Krishna confused by the message, decided to follow the boy at once, and is taken to a person who claims to commune with the souls of the dead.

Krishna then often visits t
May 26, 2013 Jay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found here wonderful writing. I had not previously read Narayan but will read more. What made this wonderful was the way he wrote, feeling like I expect India feels. The characters were vivid and were exotic to me, but seemed to be of the place. The English teacher himself was cocky and in love and it showed. I also liked the contemporary feel despite the book having been published in 1945. I felt a timelessness here, as if it could have happened this year. The part that I found out of kilter ...more
Saptarshi Ghosh
Enjoyed the way R.K. Narayan celebrate the ordinariness of life -its joy,love and tragedy with such great beauty and simplicty.
Setup in the fictitious town of Malgudi, an English teacher,leading his simple life with his wife Sushila and their new born daughter Leela,faced with a great tragedy.
The subtleties of life ,tagedy of losing someone core to one's life, longing for someone lost,their memories from the fragnance of jasmine and unfinished woolen sweater - the serenity of small moments and h
Aathira Jim
Feb 22, 2015 Aathira Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is quite different from the previous works of RK Narayan that I had read. The English Teacher is a book which deals with darker subjects like death and the after life. The fact that the work is mostly autobiographical makes it more interesting.

I was left with a sense of profound sadness reading certain parts. If you are a lover of Malgudi, then this is the book for you. And of course, I was filled with nostalgia reading about the world of Malgudi and its occupants through RK Narayan's
May 03, 2012 Sophie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Narayan takes you on an intense autobiographical journey from monotony to meaning with tragedy and humour. Krishna, the English teacher of the title, finds his world changed by the arrival of his wife and child: he leaves the shared living of the college and through them he learns to love the homelife and begins to find greater reason to his existence. When his life is turned upside down again, he feels like he has lost everything, and meetings with a dedicated headmaster and a mysterious strang ...more
Rishav Agarwal
Oct 14, 2016 Rishav Agarwal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the idyllic town of Malgudi, this one revolves around the life of Kirshnan, an English professor. Narayan weaves a beautiful tale with accessible prose to bring out the extra-ordinary in Krishnan's quotidian struggles with marital life, existential questions and later tragedy.

The last half however was a bit of a drag not being able to commensurate the first. Still, the characters
were deep yet funny and the story light yet moving, just like life itself.
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R. K. Narayan is among the best known and most widely read Indian novelists who wrote in English.

R.K. Narayan was born in Madras, South India, in 1906, and educated there and at Maharaja's College in Mysore. His first novel, Swami and Friends and its successor, The Bachelor of Arts, are both set in the enchanting fictional territory of Malgudi and are only two out of the twelve novels he based the
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“I returned from the village. The house seemed unbearably dull. But I bore it. "There is no escape from loneliness and separation...." I told myself often. "Wife, child, brothers, parents, friends.... We come together only to go apart again. It is one continuous movement. They move away from us as we move away from them. The law of life can't be avoided. The law comes into operation the moment we detach ourselves from our mother's womb. All struggle and misery in life is due to our attempt to arrest this law or get away from it or in allowing ourselves to be hurt by it. The fact must be recognized. A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life. All else is false. My mother got away from her parents, my sisters from our house, I and my brother away from each other, my wife was torn away from me, my daughter is going away with my mother, my father has gone away from his father, my earliest friends - where are they? They scatter apart like the droplets of a waterspray. The law of life. No sense in battling against it...." Thus I reconciled myself to this separation with less struggle than before.” 16 likes
“This education has reduced us to a nation of morons; we were strangers to our own culture and camp followers of another culture, feeding on leavings and garbage . . . What about our own roots? . . . I am up against the system, the whole method and approach of a system of education which makes us morons, cultural morons, but efficient clerks for all your business and administration offices.” 14 likes
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