Quotes from ‘The Guide’ by R. K. Narayan

Read the review for the book

These are a few excerpts from the book with a little commentary from moi (okay, more than a little).

It is written on the brow of some that they shall not be left alone. I am one such, I think.

It is written on the brow of some that they shall not be left alone. I am one such, I think.

Raju using the classic ‘blame it on fate’ excuse to pardon himself (he takes too much interest in the affairs of other people).

I never said, “I don’t know.” Not in my nature, I suppose. If I had the inclination to say “I don’t know what you are talking about,” my life would have taken a different turn. Instead, I said, “Oh, yes, a fascinating place. Haven’t you seen it? You must find the time to visit it, otherwise your whole trip here would be a waste.” I am sorry I said it, an utter piece of falsehood. It was not because I wanted to utter a falsehood, but only because I wanted to be pleasant.

How many times! How many times have we done this! And yet, here R. K. Narayan has laid it bare for us to notice it for the first time.

Dead and decaying things seemed to unloosen his tongue and fire his imagination, rather than things that lived and moved and swung their limbs.

Raju describing Marco’s passions through a thinly veiled disgust towards the man, fueled by his own illegitimate passion for Marco’s wife.

He protested to Velan one day, “I’m a poor man and you are poor men; why do you give me all this? You must stop it.” But it was not possible to stop the practice; they loved to bring him gifts. He came to be called Swami by his congregation, and where he lived was called the Temple. It was passing into common parlance. “The Swami said this or that,” or “I am on my way to the Temple.” People loved this place so much that they lime-washed its walls and drew red bands on them.

Sometimes people want to believe in divinity and there’s nothing one can do about it.

Raju recollected that for his bath nowadays he had to go down three more steps to reach the water. He went down and stood looking along the river course. He looked away to his left, where the river seemed to wind back to the mountain ranges of the Mempi, to its source, where he had often conducted tourists. Such a small basin, hardly a hundred square feet with its little shrine—what had happened there to make this river shrink so much here?

Narayan uses here the metaphor of the small origin affecting the huge river to point out how small changes in our lives affect the larger picture.

“It must have been bitten by a poisonous insect.” This was a comforting explanation, and he turned back without letting his eye dwell on the barren branches of trees, and the ground covered with bleached mud without a sign of green.
This piece of interpretation by the Swamiji pleased the public. It brought them untold comfort. The air of tension suddenly relaxed.

White lies.

He got down from his pedestal; that was the first step to take. That seat had acquired a glamour, and as long as he occupied it people would not listen to him as to an ordinary mortal. He now saw the enormity of his own creation. He had created a giant with his puny self, a throne of authority with that slab of stone.

Narayan explaining the concept of symbolic power through such a simple example.

One comment

  1. vadivelu · · Reply

    He is a genius. I wondered every time that how he was able to write the novel in such a fluency. Every time it will appear to be my own wandering into the novel; Every where my own experience and the narration with minute details in depth to enhance the pleasure of reading. I now see how he was able to predict the big rivers shrinking to small ponds.


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