Khushwant Singh a Critcal Study of His Novels

Khushwant Singh a Critcal Study of His Novels

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Book Specification

Item Code: UAM959
Author: S.K Dubey
Publisher: B.R. Publishing Corporation
Language: English
Edition: 2012
ISBN: 9789350500491
Pages: 149
Other Details 9.00 X 6.00 inch
Weight 200 gm

Book Description

About The Book

The present momograph on Khushwant Singh is an exhaustive critical survey of his three novels to date - Train to Pakistan (1956), I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale (1959), and Delhi (1990). Its main thrust is theme and narrative technique. It also takes into account the social reality and symbolism in them as well as certain prevalent socio-political ills afflicting our society today. It highlights Khushwant Singh's expert handling of the partition theme, his humanistic vision of life, his extensive knowledge of Indian history (especially as it is related to the Punjab and its adjoining areas), and his pen-portrayal of the Quit India Movement in 1942, his keen interest in Sikhism and its ideals, etc. It attempts to bring out Singh's social and political background, his personal likes and dislikes, and his distinctive place in Indian English fiction.

About the Author

Born on July 1, 1940, Siva Kumar Dubey postgraduate in English from the University of Allahabad and completed his D.Phil. thesis there in 1997 on the topic, "Major Themes and Narrative Technique in the Novels of Khushwant Singh: A Critical Study". By Profession, Dr.Dubey is a journalist who writes freely on socio political and literary issues. He has been the Academic Counsellor to the Department of Journalism, IGNOU, ADC branch, Allahabad, and a Guest Lecturer at the Department of Journalism, University of Allahabad, and A.P.S University, Rewa (M.P). He was President of the UP. Journalists' Association and Senior Vice President of the National Union of Journalists. Dr. Dubey combines in himself the twin worlds of fact and fancy, of practical wisdom and imaginative resourcefulness.


With the publication of his novel, Delhi, in 1989 Khushwant Singh established himself as a major Indian English novelist. His earlier novels, Train to Pakistan, and I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale, were also accorded a warm welcome by the reading public in India and abroad. Though the novelist has got recognition in his own right and a few critical books have been written on him, he has not been able to get the critical attention he deserves. He has been considered to be a novelist dealing with contemporary themes like partition, India's struggle for Independence before August 15, 1947 and nightmares and seductive charm of past and present Delhi and specialising in lust and irreverence and typical uses of Indian English. However, Khushwant Singh's interest in the Sikh vision of life, his interest in the composite culture of India, his exhibitionism and endeavours for evolving a typical Indian English novel has usually been lost sight of.
In the present study I have emphasised that in spite of his irreverence and ribaldry Khushwant Singh is not a 'novelist without vision' as Chirantan Kulshrestha has asserted in his article "Khushwant Singh's Fiction", published in Indian Writing Today, II-IV, January-March 1970, pp. 19-26.
Singh has deep interest in the basic tenets of Sikhism and has studied Sikh history quite closely and at length. It is clear from the fact that the protagonist in each of the three novels is an irreverent Sikh who at the crucial times acts according to the basic Sikh faith.
The second major theme in the novels of Singh is contemporary India and its social and political ills. The novelist lashes out at corruption, inefficiency, social ills, habits and public attitudes through his biting satire. He exposes our taboos about love and sex and praises the Punjabi zest for life. The novelist is fully acquainted with the Punjabi way of life and misses no opportunity to project it in his works.
The third major theme in Singh's novels is his love for the composite culture of India. The novelist loves India in spite of her ugly spots and various social and political ills. He advocates social harmony in all his novels. His latest novel, Delhi, is a strong plea for recognition of India's composite culture.


Khushwant Singh, who has earned notoriety through his straightforward utterances and writings, happens to be a novelist of the Fifties. Recently he stirred the hornet's nest by berating the genius of Rabindranath Tagore, whose contribution to literature, politics, India's freedom fight, social reform, religion, morality and culture has been immense and irrefutable. Singh is a writer of convictions, and he does not allow anyone to go scotfree. His incisive wit and humour remain his forte, and irony and satire are his impenetrable shield. Nothing is sacrosanct for him, not even himself, not even the Punjabis and their way of life. Possibly his journalistic aptitude determines his literary exercise. This again puts him in a disadvantageous position as a novelist, since journalism renders one more matter-of-fact than imaginatively fertile
As a writer, Khushwant Singh began his career with short stories. His first collection of short stories is The Mark of Vishnu & Other Stories (1950) Personally, I rate him higher as a short than as a novelist, though they are the two related branches of story writer Literature. Somehow or the other, I feel that Singh as a novelist comes nowhere beside the 'Big Three' or even beside such novelists as Kamala Markandaya, Anita Desai, Shashi Deshpande, Bhabani Bhattacharya, Manohar Molgonkar, and Arun Joshi. What makes the difference is the imaginative fervour and creative fecundity. I also feel that Singh, with his three novels (if Delhi can really be called a novel), has run out of creative steam. Then, there is a successive decline in the quality of his fictional works, and I consider his first novel, Train to Pakistan, to be the best of the three. Singh may, otherwise, be a fearless journalist, a candid historian, a staunch crusader of Sikhism, a bold personality (who can throw away the Government awards and honour), but as a novelist he has hardly shown signs of improvement. In one thing, however, readers cannot question his authenticity and that is his down-to-earth realism, his sense of disillusionment and bewilderment at what he saw around himself. In fact, his use of Hindustani expressions, including abusive words and phrases now and then, and his exhibition of sexual bouts and physical pleasures are intended to reinforce this idea.
In the present monograph, S.K. Dubey has treated Khushwant Singh and his novels in a comprehensive way. His treatment betrays his affinity and fraternity with the novelist. All through, the treatment remains sympathetic and generous. But Delhi is somewhat differently dealt with, and Dr. Dubey lists certain points of disagreement with Singh. I am sure, this monograph will bring out a composite picture of Khushwant Singh as a novelist.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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