Malgudi Days - Reading Comprehension

Introduction

MALGUDI DAYS ( R K Narayan )
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- Introduction by Jhumpa Lahiri -

Malgudi Days, originally published in 1982, combines selections from two of Narayan’s collections: An Astrologer’s Day and Other Stories (1947) and Lawley Road and Other Stories (1956), as well as later, previously uncollected stories that originally appeared in such publications as The New Yorker, Playboy , and Antaeus. The result is work spanning approximately forty years by an author whose hundredth birthday coincides with the publication of this edition. Less than a decade passed between the publication of An Astrologer’s Day and Lawley Road, and in that time India, which gained its independence from Great Britain the same year the former collection was published, was reborn as a nation. Narayan has been faulted by some critics for turning a blind eye to India’s violent and protracted struggle for sovereignty, for continuing to write about an insulated town that is largely disconnected from the insurgence of the time. It is true that there is a timeless quality to Malgudi, that in many ways it remains sheltered from the greater forces of the world. While Malgudi may appear to be a seemingly fixed place, the stories repeatedly illustrate that nothing is fixed, that no one is protected, that life is always changing, occasionally for the better but typically for the worse. It is also true that in these stories Narayan is not concerned overtly with changes in India’s history through the course of the twentieth century. Still, Malgudi Days reveals how broader changes, both social and political, alter the everyday lives of people.

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Raised speaking Tamil at home, Narayan wrote from the beginning in English, a language that, as Ved Mehta points out in a profile he wrote of Narayan in The New Yorker, is “foreign to most of his countrymen and also to most of his characters.” Narayan’s father was a headmaster, and as a result Narayan had access to a library full of English books. His early literary diet included Scott, Dickens, Hardy, Doyle, and Wodehouse. In My Days he recalls, “I . . . started writing, mostly under the influence of events occurring around me and in the style of any writer who was uppermost in my mind at the time.” Why Narayan chose to write in English and not Tamil is something I leave scholars of his work to ponder. As a reader I am simply grateful for the way Narayan, long before so many writers of Indian origin or background writing in English, beautifully knit together the subject matter of one place with the language and narrative tradition of another, achieving what Mehta aptly calls an “astonishing marriage of opposite points of the compass.” It is a helpful way to explain why these stories, about a small, single, old-fangled place, remain strikingly fresh today, and why they contain, a century after their creator’s birth, the workings of the whole world.

Disclaimer: This part has been reproduced only for educational demonstration purpose. 

Task

1. Summarise the passage into a gist introducing RKNarayan and Malgudi Days (1/3rd word)

2. Give a one line summary for each paragraphs.

3. R K Narayan's language that he spoke when with his family was _______, but he excelled writing in ________, a language mostly foreign to India. (Fill in the blanks)

4. What are the 2 major books that have influenced Malgudi Days, as in have collection of stories included in the book ? 

5. Suggest a heading for the passage. 

 

Process

 With regards to the approach you should adopt for reading comprehensions, keep the following points in mind:

1. Do not over-emphasize small details

Details are important, but not very. Just get a hang of the main points. Comprehend the overall flow and structure to analyze and answer the questions.

2. Do not go for rote learning

Do not memorise every word. Understand the flow and structure for main points in the passage. For specific point questions, you can-read the passage again.

3. Look at the questions first

Go through the questions first and then the passage. Focus on the things you need to look in the passage and on the questions, a quick overview of the questions is sufficient.

4. Vocabulary is important but not compulsory

Strong vocabulary is good, but do not put yourself under stress in this area. While reading the passage, make sure that you understand the gist of the passage.

5. Every answer is in the passage

The right answer is always given within the passage. No need of any options that distract you from the passage.

Evaluation

Gist should be 1/3rd in numbers of words but should have full theme covered. Write the gist for overall passage in own words. 

Heading should convey the theme in a couple of words, creativity is important. 

One line summary should focus on conclusion and theme of passage. 

Specific questions will determine in depth reading.

Conclusion

While ensuring that you strike a fine balance for this area, it is important that you keep a number of things in your mind and ensure you do not fall into the common pitfalls.
 
The above form some of the basic points that should be kept in mind while approaching reading comprehensions. These would improve your focus, increase your grasp of the subject matter and deliver greater understanding. If you achieve these, your task is more or less done.

Credits
     
Question  Marks Remarks
1 5 Word count important
2 2 2 Themes to be clear
3 1 exact answer
4 1 grammar
5 1 creativity