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The English Teacher

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  2,240 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Krishna, an English teacher in the town of Malgudi, nagged by the feeling he's doing the wrong work, is nonetheless delighted by his domestic life, where his wife and young daughter wait for him outside the house every afternoon. Devastated by the death of his wife, Krishna comes to realise what he really wants to do, and makes a decision that will change his life forever.
Paperback, 279 pages
Published August 2nd 2001 by Vintage Classics (first published October 1st 1980)
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Paul Bryant

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
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
Ian Laird
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 fulfilling job teaching children, away from the strictures of the formal syllabus.

An intensely mo
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
Jul 30, 2007 Sandhya rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
Petra X
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

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
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 16, 2010 Anushree Rastogi rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.
Suhasini Srihari
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.
Mehwish Mughal
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!

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.
Phil Barker
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.
Rishi Prakash
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
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
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
Aathira Jim
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
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
I had to read this book for literature and I had to say that my entire class of 20 disliked this book unanimously. It wasn't that the writing style was bad, it was actually quite simple to read, nothing difficult to understand. But... the plot was seriously boring... especially to a bunch of teenaged girls. Krishna's life was really unappealing, before or after his transformation. Cajoling the boys to mug their Shakespeare texts, brow beating them to do their homework. I get enough of this from ...more
Kavya Srinivasan
While I adore Narayan's clean prose, and ridiculously effortless style, this book came as a disappointment, and I think that this was because of the ending. I felt... almost cheated of a denouement on the last page.
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
Nandasiri Wanninayaka
I read R. K. Narayan’s “The English Teacher” for my AL English. From the first page onwards it was a journey through humor, sorrow and inner peace.

The English Teacher (1945) is the third and final part in the series, preceded by Swami and Friends (1935) and The Bachelor of Arts (1937).

The story is woven around a newly married college teacher, Krishna and his wife Susila and infant daughter, Leela. The grace, innocence, smartness and frugality of Susila are explained beautifully in the novel. One
Ike Khan
I had not previously read this book nor was I familiar with the work of R K Narayan until I was asked to narrate it as an audio-book for Listening Books. Krishna, an English teacher in the town of Malgudi, nagged by the feeling he's doing the wrong work, is nonetheless delighted by his domestic life, where his wife and young daughter wait for him outside the house every afternoon. Devastated by the death of his wife, Krishna comes to realise what he really wants to do, and makes a decision that ...more
Deepika Ramesh
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
Sheetal Dash
This one's my favourite Narayan - along with the Maneater of Malgudi, this occupies a very special place in my book-shelf. The English Teacher - a.k.a. Grateful to Life and Death - is a sad story, sadder than most of Narayan's Malgudi novels. But the tragedy is softened by the wry humour that runs through the novel.
'The feeling,' Narayan writes on the first page, 'again and again came upon me that as I was nearing thirty I should cease to live like a cow (perhaps, a cow, with justice, might feel
Vasanth Gurushankar
I did not know the book had tragedy awaiting. I was flipping the pages, enjoying the flow when things started to take a turn.

I have never ever felt such an emotion when reading a novel. A chill descended on me that had nothing to do with the climate in my area. I have immensely enjoyed the stories of R K Narayan but this will I will remember for a very long time.

This is the story of English teacher- his aspirations to write- his family and some strange characters. The story can be easily related
Hilary Hicklin
Narayan has the exceptional gift of describing everyday events yet making them to interesting and pleasurable you wish you were there with him. India and its people are brought vividly to life.
Turns into something i cannot buy (talking to spirits and all). Difficult to finish at the end.
This might be #1 on my list of Stories That Aren't Going Where You Think They Are.
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R. K. Narayan is among the best known and most widely read Indian novelists writing 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 there
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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.” 13 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.” 10 likes
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