The Guide

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The Guide
First US edition
AuthorR. K. Narayan
GenrePhilosophical novel
PublisherViking Press (US)
Methuen (UK)
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages220 pp
ISBN0-670-35668-9 (First American edition)

The Guide is a 1958 novel written in English by the Indian author R. K. Narayan. Like most of his works the novel is based on Malgudi, the fictional town in South India. The novel describes the transformation of the protagonist, Raju, from a tour guide to a spiritual guide and then one of the greatest holy men of India.

The novel brought its author the 1960 Sahitya Akademi Award for English, by the Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

Railway Raju (nicknamed) is a disarmingly corrupt tour guide who is famous among tourists. He falls in love with a beautiful dancer, Rosie, the wife of archaeologist Marco. Marco does not approve of Rosie's passion for dancing. Rosie, encouraged by Raju, decides to follow her dreams and start a dancing career. They start living together, but Raju's mother does not approve of their relationship, and leaves them. Raju becomes Rosie's stage manager and soon, with the help of Raju's marketing tactics, Rosie becomes a successful dancer. Raju, however, develops an inflated sense of self-importance and tries to control her life and he wants to build as much wealth as possible. Raju gets involved in a case of forgery and gets a two-year sentence. After completing the sentence, Raju passes through a village where he is mistaken for a sadhu (a spiritual guide). Since he does not want to return in disgrace to Malgudi, he decides to stay in an abandoned temple, close to the village. There is a famine in the village and Raju is expected to keep a fast in order to make it rain. Raju confesses the entire truth about his past to Velan, who had developed a complete faith in Raju like the rest of the villagers. With media publicizing his fast, a huge crowd gathers (much to Raju's resentment) to watch him fast. After fasting for several days, he goes to the riverside one morning as part of his daily ritual, where his legs sag down as he feels that the rain is falling in the hills. The ending of the novel leaves unanswered the question of whether he died, and whether the drought ended.


The film Guide was released in 1965, based on the novel. It starred Dev Anand as Raju, Waheeda Rehman as Rosie, Kishore Sahu (cameo), and Leela Chitnis in the lead roles. The film's score was composed by S.D.Burman. The movie depicts that in the conclusion the drought ends and Raju dies, unlike the book in which the questions remain unanswered.

The novel was also adapted into a play in 1968.[2] The play was profiled in the William Goldman book The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway.


External links[edit]