Introduction: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and her Fiction

  • Laurie Sucher


Sly and compassionate, sad and funny, the fiction of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala has, by 1988, enchanted British readers for more than three decades; her North American audience, while somewhat newer, is no less enthusiastic. ‘An immense literary achievement,’1 ‘subtle, concise, and magnificent’2 her work has been called, and she herself ‘a genius if the word means anything’, while India is ‘a marvellous whetstone for her sharp humanity and retractable claws’.3


Heterosexual Woman Romantic Love Indian Life Western Woman Female Protagonist 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 1.
    Dorothy Rabinowitz, review of Travelers, World 2, no. 12 (1973) p. 66;Google Scholar
  2. reprinted in Contemporary Literary Criticism: Excerpts from the Criticism of the Works of Today’s Novelists, ed, Carolyn Riley (Detroit: Gale Research, 1975) vol. 4, p. 256.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, ‘We’re Off to See the Guru’, MS, December 1973, p. 28; eprinted in Contemporary Literary Criticism, p. 257.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    as cited by R. J. Crane, ‘Ruth Prawer Jhabvala: a Checklist of Primary and Secondary Sources’, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 20, no. 1 (1985) p. 203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bernard Weinraub, ‘The Artistry of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’, New York Times Magazine, 11 September 1983, p. 112.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    From a letter to Yasmine Gooneratne, quoted in Yasmine Gooneratne, Silence, Exile and Cunning: The Fiction of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1983) p. 2.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Siegbart Soloman Prawer (1925- ) is the author of a number of literary critical studies suggesting interesting commonalities with his sister’s work: for example, Caligari’s Children: The Film as Tale of Terror (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980; New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), or Heine’s Jewish Comedy: A Study of His Portraits of Jews and Judaism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983; New York: Oxford University Press, 1983).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    From Ramlal Agarwal, ‘An Interview with Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’, Quest, 91 (1974) p. 36.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, ‘Moonlight, Jasmine and Rickets’, New York Times, 23 April 1973, p. 35:Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    John Updike, ‘Raman and Daisy and Olivia and the Nawab’, review of Heat and Dust in the New Yorker, 5 July 1978, p. 83.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    Ramlal Agarwal, in Times of India (Bombay), 25 March 1973.Google Scholar
  12. 17.
    Hayden Moore Williams, The Fiction of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (Calcutta Writer’s Workshop, 1973) p. 65.Google Scholar
  13. 18.
    Vasant Shahane, ‘Jhabvala’s Heat and Dust: a Cross-Cultural Encounter’, in Aspects of Indian Writing in English, ed. M. K. Naik (Madras: Macmillan, 1979) p. 230.Google Scholar
  14. 20.
    See, for example, Margo Jefferson, ‘The Bostonians Misses the Boat’, MS, October 1984, p. 33.Google Scholar
  15. See Richard Grenier, ‘The Bostonians Inside Out’, Commentary, October 1984, p. 60.Google Scholar
  16. 22.
    Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, ‘Myself in India’, An Experience of India (New York: W. W. Norton, 1971) p. 19.Google Scholar
  17. 23.
    Charlotte Brontë, Shirley (1849),Google Scholar
  18. as quoted in Ellen Moers, Literary Women: The Great Women Writers (New York: Anchor Books, 1977) p. 192.Google Scholar
  19. 26.
    Richard Nyrop et al., Area Handbook for India (Washington, D.C., 1975) p. 205.Google Scholar
  20. 28.
    Hayden Moore Williams, ‘The Yogi and the Babbitt: Themes and Characters of the New India in the Novels of R. Prawer Jhabvala’, Twentieth-Century Literature, 15, no. 2 (1969) pp. 81–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 29.
    Compare Carol P. Christ, Diving Deep and Surfacing: Women Writers on Spiritual Quest (Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press, 1980).Google Scholar

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© Laurie Sucher 1989

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  • Laurie Sucher

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