The Painter of Signs
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The Painter of Signs

By (author) R. K. Narayan

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In this wry, funny, bittersweet story, love gets in the way of progress when Raman, a sign painter, meets the thrillingly independent Daisy, who wishes to bring birth control to the city of Malgudi.

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  • Paperback | 144 pages
  • 128 x 192 x 12mm | 158.76g
  • 01 May 1993
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • London
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0140185496
  • 9780140185492
  • 267,753

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Author Information

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. In 1958 Narayan's work The Guide won him the National Prize of the Indian Literary Academy, his country's highest literary honor. In addition to his novels, Narayan has authored five collections of short stories, including A Horse and Two Goats, Malguidi Days, and Under the Banyan Tree, two travel books, two volumes of essays, a volume of memoirs, and the re-told legends Gods, Demons and Others, The Ramayana, and the Mahabharata. In 1980 he was awarded the A.C. Benson Medal by the Royal Society of Literature and in 1982 he was made an Honorary Member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Narayan died in 2001.

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Review text

Another Malgudi town tale by the accomplished Indian novelist - here the amusingly ironic account of a man obsessed by the need to possess a woman who is determined not to represent what he thinks is the "tragedy of womanhood. . . utility articles whether in bed or not." Raman, the painter of signs, secure in his "scientific" rationalism and bachelor detachment, is inexplicably in love with Daisy, a cool, elegantly Indian field worker for Family Planning. As Raman, in his professional capacity, follows the tireless Daisy through her educational seminars and harangues at bemused villagers, his confused infatuation grows. Daisy, non-smiling and curt when not evangelizing on the subject of birth control, is all mission. Raman shifts, bends, retreats, and gives this impossible, fascinating woman her head, but never seems able to rein her in. Yes, he does sleep with her and even marries her, but at the close, Daisy, admitting she is "not cut out for marriage. . . I want to forget my moments of weakness," kisses his hand in brief appreciation and leaves forever. "To hell with it," says Raman - a man cuckolded by Higher Callings - and the inflated male ego takes its lumps. A deceptively fragile item, a nosegay romance complete with wasp. (Kirkus Reviews)

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