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Mulk Raj Anand

  • As a global socialist and modernist, Mulk Raj Anand sought and shaped opportunities for intellectual exchanges between Asia and Europe.
  • Mulk
  • Raj
  • Anand
  • 12-12-1905
  • Peshāwar (PK)
  • 28-09-2004
  • Pune (IN)
  • WriterPhilosopherArt PatronCultural Critic
  • As a global socialist and modernist, Mulk Raj Anand sought and shaped opportunities for intellectual exchanges between Asia and Europe.

    Word Count: 20

  • Mulk Raj Anand by Howard Coster, half-plate film negative, 1930s (© National Portrait Gallery, London).
  • Driven by the idea of a global modernism in culture and society, the life of Indian intellectual Mulk Raj Anand was deeply shaped by reciprocal exchanges between Asia and Europe. One of the enduring achievements of the philosopher and writer is Marg, a magazine of the arts, which Anand founded with local and exiled creatives in Bombay in 1946.
    Anand had already met some of the contributors to Marg, for example the Ceylonese art historian Anil (Marcia) De Silva and the socialist writer George Orwell, in his London days. Educated in Amritsar and Lahore, Anand moved to the British capital in 1925 shortly after being arrested for anti-British agitation. He studied philosophy at University College London, completing a doctoral thesis on Bertrand Russell in 1929.
    London and its intellectual scene provided a fitting environment to deepen his political and humanitarian commitments. Living in precarious conditions, part-time jobs for Bloomsbury Group connections including Virginia Woolf and the literary magazine CRITERION, provided him with a small income. Nevertheless, his network extended far beyond the local literary scene: from cultural practitioners like Sigmund Freud to the Spanish civil rights movement. These acquaintances were characterised by shared attitudes towards aesthetic reforms and a commitment to global socialism.
    In the colonial metropole Anand increasingly distanced himself from oppressive power structures and societal norms. Early novels such as Untouchable (1935), Coolie (1936) and The Big Heart (1945) portrayed the lives of India’s lower social strata to denounce class and caste discrimination in Indian society. Anand also experienced everyday racism, which further reinforced his anti-fascist and anti-colonial stance. Emerging as a key voice of Anglo-Indian literature and co-founder of the Indian Progressive Writers’ Association, he was committed to an independent, secular and modern India.
    Transnational contexts also determined Anand’s life after his return to Bombay in 1945. Not untypical of the city's left-wing milieu, he lived in a shared a flat –  in his case with the sisters Anil und Minnette De Silva.  It was there at 25 Cuffe Parade, that the art and architecture magazine Marg was conceived. Assuming the mantle of Marg’s editorship from 1946 to 1981, Anand and the interdisciplinary founding team shaped the Indian discourse on art and architecture. The diversity of the thematic and regional focus of the magazine is reflected in the diverse founding members. These included local architects such as M. J. P. Mistri or the poet Bishnu Dey, but also German exiles such as the  chief architect of Mysore State Otto Koenigsberger, the art historian Hermann Goetz and the art critic Rudi von Leyden.
    With von Leyden Anand shared a multifaceted, mutually formative relationship. Both were instrumental in establishing the Progressive Artists' Group in Bombay. Anand may have identified with the young group of artists because of their desire for aesthetic reform and their urge for an artistic expression of the newfound freedom from colonial rule. Mulk Raj Anand's at-home-soirees or Souza’s farewell party at von Leyden’s home, which was also attended by exiles Walter and Käthe Langhammer and Emanuel Schlesinger, bear witness to Bombay's cosmopolitan, cultural elite. According to art historian and painter Rathan Parimoo, Leyden also formed an important reference figure for Anand's practice as an art critic, which was reflected in his equal analysis of form and style. How much Anand relied on Leyden's understanding of art was demonstrated not least by his appointment of Leyden as a jury member at India’s First Triennale of Contemporary World Art in 1968.
    As a confidant of the first prime minister of independent India Jawaharlal Nehru, Anand propagated secular state interventionism in the cultural sector. Anand − himself closely aligned to the Communist Party of India − saw the arts as powerful liberating tools and societal correctives. Architecture was for him the “mother art” (Marg, vol 1, no. 1, 1946, p. 6), seismographically anticipating the making of a modern India based on humanism.
    Although Anand can be criticised for his utopianism and orientation towards European modernity, he remained committed to his progressive social agenda. This manifested itself not only in his advocacy of international solidarity, but also in his attitude of equality towards women or people from lower castes. Although increasingly threatened, to this day, Anand's belief in socialist egalitarianism beyond nations’ borders continues to resonate in India's cultural history, and in the freshly printed pages of Marg magazine.

    Word Count: 709

  • Paperback cover of Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand Preface by E.M., 34pp., Forster, Bombay: Kutub-Popular, around 1953 (© Kutub-Popular).
    Mulk Raj Anand in his late years at Taraporevala Mansion. 25 Cuffe Parade. Photograph: Dolly Sahiar (reproduced with the permission of The Marg Foundation, Mumbai, India/ Taken from Garimella 2005, 9).
  • Bluemel, Kristin. “Introduction in the Space between Modernisms George Orwell and the Radical Eccentrics.” George Orwell and the Radical Eccentrics: Intermodernism in Literary London, by Kristin Bluemel, Palgrave Macmillan US, 2004, pp. 1–25.

    Dalvi, Mustansir. “Mulk and Modern Indian Architecture.” Mulk Raj Anand: Shaping the Indian Modern, edited by Annapurna Garimella, Marg Publications, 2005, pp. 56–65.

    Deboo, Khorshed. “Revisiting the Past, Reimagining a Future. How an Art Magazine Found a Place in Indiaʼs Nation-Building Narratives.” Himal Southasian, 16 February 2021, Accessed 20 March 2021.

    Hoskote, Ranjit. “The Last of Indian English Fictionʼs Grand Troika.” The Hindu. Online Edition of Indiaʼs National Newspaper, 28 September 2004, Accessed 20 March 2021.

    Kapur, Geeta. “Partisan Modernity.” Mulk Raj Anand: Shaping the Indian Modern, edited by Annapurna Garimella, Marg Publications, 2005, pp. 56–65.

    Lee, Rachel, and Kathleen James-Chakraborty. “Marg Magazine: A Tryst with Architectural Modernity.” ABE Journal, no. 1, May 2012., doi: 10.4000/abe.623. Accessed 20 March 2021.

    Loomba, Ania. Revolutionary Desires: Women, Communism, and Feminism in India. Routledge, 2019.

    Morse, Daniel Ryan. “An ‘Impatient Modernist’: Mulk Raj Anand at the BBC.” Modernist Cultures, vol. 10, no. 1, March 2015, pp. 83–98.

    Nasta, Susheila. “Between Bloomsbury and Gandhi? The Background to the Publication and Reception of Mulk Raj Anandʼs Untouchable.” Books Without Borders, Volume 2: Perspectives from South Asia, edited by Robert Fraser and Mary Hammond, Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2008, pp. 151–69. Springer Link, doi: 10.1057/9780230289130_11. Accessed 20 March 2021.

    Parimoo, Rathan. “Remembering Mulk Raj Anand.” Mulk Raj Anand: Shaping the Indian Modern, edited by Annapurna Garimella, Marg Publications, 2005, pp. 42–49.

    Saha, Amit Shankar. “Perspective: Exile Literature and the Diasporic Indian Writer.” Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities, vol. 1, no. 2, Autumn 2009, Accessed 20 March 2021.

    Sales-Pontes, Alzira Hilda. Dr. Mulk Raj Anand – A Critical Bibliography (Doctoral thesis, Loughborough University Of Technology, 1985), Accessed 20 March 2021.

    Satchidanandan, Koyamparambath. “Mulk Raj Anand: A Creator with Social Concern.” Frontline, vol. 21, no. 21, October 2004, pp. 9–22.

    Verma, K.D. “Mulk Raj Anand: A Reappraisal.” Idem. The Indian Imagination: Critical Essays on Indian Writing in English, Palgrave Macmillan US, 2000, pp. 83–103. Springer, doi: 10.1007/978-1-349-61823-1_5. Accessed 20 March 2021.

    Viswanathan, Rashmi. “Mulk Raj Anand.” 20 February 2019, Post. Notes on Art in a Global Context, Accessed 20 March 2021.

    Word Count: 359

  • Marg, Marg Publications,

    Word Count: 6

  • We would like to thank Marg (Anjana Premchand, Mrinalini Vasudevan) for their support of our research.

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  • Rachel Lee; Mareike Schwarz
  • 8 St George's Mews Regent's Park Road, Primrose Hill, London, NW1 8XE (residence); 25 Cuffe Parade, Bombay (now Captain Prakash Pethe Marg), Colaba, Mumbai (residence and office).

  • Bombay
  • Rachel Lee; Mareike Schwarz. "Mulk Raj Anand." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 15-09-2021.
  • Rudolf von Leyden
    GeologistAdvertisement SpecialistJournalistArt CriticArt CollectorCartoonist

    The advertisement expert, Rudolf von Leyden, became a major art critic and art historian in Bombay in the 1940s, advocating an urgent need for modernism in art in post-colonial India.

    Word Count: 30

    Emanuel Schlesinger
    Factory OwnerTechnical DirectorArt CollectorArt Critic

    The art collector Schlesinger provided primarily financial aid by creating working opportunities for young artists in post-independence Bombay, and initiated the corporate culture of buying art.

    Word Count: 26

    Homi Jehangir Bhabha

    Homi Jehangir Bhabha was a world class scientist, institution builder, an artist and art connoisseur. His vision for growth of science and art has had significant impact in post-colonial India.

    Word Count: 30

    Minnette De Silva

    Probably the first Sri Lankan woman architect and a founding member of Marg, Minnette De Silva mediated between tradition and modernity while defying the boundaries of gender, caste and disciplines.

    Word Count: 30

    Ernst N. Schaeffer
    JournalistPhotojournalistTour GuideEditorRadio ModeratorNewspaper Correspondent

    In exile Ernst Schaeffer diversified his journalistic practice and developed an understanding of Bombay through walking the city streets, taking on street-level-photography and photojournalism.

    Word Count: 24

    Marg. A Magazine of Architecture and Art

    Local and exiled creatives formed the Modern Architectural Research Group to publish a progressive journal of art and architecture in Bombay from 1946 onwards.

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    Iconic Photo of the Progressive Artists’ Group and Their Associates

    There are two versions of the PAG photo at the opening of M.F. Husain's first solo exhibition in 1950 (published in 1996 and 2003) and two narratives about the opening.

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    Open Studio Evenings by Käthe and Walter Langhammer

    The painter Walter Langhammer and his wife Käthe built an informal infrastructure to promote local avant-garde artists and regularly invited them to Open Studio Evenings at their studio.

    Word Count: 29