A Guide to Performance: Role-Playing, Theatricality, and Celebrity in R. K. Narayan’s The Guide and My Dateless Diary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Raju’s performance as (and supposed transformation into) a holy man is only one of numerous other performances depicted in R. K. Narayan’s The Guide (1958). These range from self-reflexive role-playing to direct engagements with theatrical and cinematic practices. Tracing the thematic significance of The Guide’s various performances, this article then turns to consider how Narayan develops the theme in a later and mostly neglected text, My Dateless Diary: An American Journey (1960), an autobiographical narrative depicting Narayan’s sojourn in the US in 1956–1957, during which he wrote The Guide. Reading My Dateless Diary alongside The Guide exposes an array of subtle links between the two texts. The article demonstrates that Narayan’s travels in the US allow him to refine his playful awareness of the performance of the self, both as a component of the plot (in the novel) and as a characteristic of the authorial persona (in the travel account) who is gradually transformed into a reluctant guru, just like the fictional Raju.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalJournal of Commonwealth Literature
DOIs
StatePublished - 21 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • Indian novel in English
  • R. K. Narayan
  • performance
  • theatre
  • travel writing

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