Fictional Techniques in the Novels of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

Geeta Kapil


          The Indian Novel in English has through the years developed into a medium comprehensive enough to accommodate the multifaceted reality of the complex Indian life. The women novelists show a variety of their own under the influence of their nativity and the geographical stations from where they work. But the fact can not be denied that these    novelists living in India or abroad have their eyes on Western audience and therefore they have very often  adapt their stories to the Western taste and in the process often go beyond the mark. Ruth Jhabvala is no exeption. This article prepares the parameters for an in-depth textual analysis of Jhabvala’s novels but also helps in the objective evaluation of the use of social realism as an integral part of a narrative technique. Jhabvala is a mute observer of the various currents and cross currents, grades and shades of the multidimensional Indian reality. Living in her ‘Ivory Tower’, she reflects her own feelings towards India and her art matures along with her experience of India. Everything Indian fascinates her in the beginning but in due course she is bored with India’s poverty and corruption and the furious social scuffling in India of her times and describes the head-on collision between traditional and modern, the East and the West and the confusion that follows in the wake of these collisions. Jhabvala’s vision is comic but gradually her treatment of Indian society, hypocrisy and pretentiousness takes her into the realm of irony , that is, to some extent, bitter and full of cynicism. Her use of Indian vocabulary and imagery etc. are quite effective in the context of her narrative skill. The shift in the themes and techniques of her novels manifest the journey of Jhabvala’s life that she starts in India and ends in America.


Cultural, Interiors, Irony, Modernity, Traditional.

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Novels by Jhabvala, Ruth. Prawer.:

A Backward Place, New Delhi: Orient Paperbacks, (1965). Print.

.A New Dominion, London: John Murray, (1972 ). Print.

Esmond in India, London: John Murray, (1978). Print.

Get Ready for Battle, London: John Murray, (1962 ). Print.

Heat and Dust, London: John Murray, (1975 ).Print.

The Nature of Passion, London: George Allen and Unwin, (1965 ). Print.

The Householder, London: John Murray, ( 1960 ). Print.

To Whom She Will, London: George Allen and Unwin (1965 ). Print.

Short Story by Jhabvala- An Experience of India, London: John Murray, (1971 ). Print.

Ezekeil, Nissim. A Distorting Mirror, Review of Heat and Dust, The Times of India, Jan.4, (1976 ).p.10

Mukherji, Meenakshi. Twice Born Fiction: Themes and Techniques of the Indian The Novel in English, New Delhi: Heinemann (1971 ). Print.

Williams, H.M. “The Yogi and The Babbitt: Themes and Characters of the New India in the Novels of R.P. Jhabvala.” Twentieth Century Literature, (1968 ). Print.


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