The Serpent and the Rope

Raja, Author, Raja Rao, Author Overlook Press $22.5 (408p) ISBN 978-0-87951-220-0
This new edition of a book first published in 1960 and out of print for two decades, is likely to prove an insurmountable challenge to the general reader. Teeming wtih arcane legends, philosophical dialogues, songs and poetry, studded with a host of characters and a quantity of exotic locales, the novel seems a paradigm of India itselfas vast, diffuse and enigmatic as Western perception would have it. Its various parts are loosely bound together by a thin narrative thread describing the marriage of Rama, a young Brahmin doing graduate work in France, to Madeleine, an ethereal French college teacher, some six years his senior. In her eagerness to attain Eastern wisdom, Madeleine first casts her husband in the role of guru. Later, as her ""saintliness'' (or madness) progresses, she transcends the need for human companionship, leaving Rama free to pursue his own search for self-awarenessa quest that consistently leaves the reader uninvolved. This ``sad and uneven chronicle of a life'' is rendered without the kind of dramatic focus necessary to bridge the gulf between the protagonist's sensibility and ours. (March 19)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1986
Release date: 02/01/1986
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