While reading online R. K. Narayan's 1943 collection of short stories Malgudi Days, I've noticed the character of "the Talkative Man" appear several times so far in apparently unrelated stories.

  • In "The Tiger's Claw", there is a frame story in which he tells "us" (some unidentified plural first-person characters) his story about his past encounter with a tiger.
  • In "The Snake-Song", again there is a frame story with an unidentified "us" whom he tells his story about training to play music.
  • In "Engine Trouble", there is not even a frame story, just a parenthical "said the Talkative Man" at the beginning. Perhaps this may be seen as a continuation of the immediately preceding "The Snake-Song"?

The Wikipedia page mentions that he is "a recurring character in several short stories", but even the first time he appears in this collection, he is just mentioned as if readers are expected to already know who that is. Is this because he'd already be familiar to Narayan's readers of Malgudi stories? His first novels were also set in Malgudi, and written a decade earlier than the Malgudi Days stories. Or is he just a device to enable first-person narration in these largely third-person stories?

In which of Narayan's works was the Talkative Man first introduced? And is any more known about this character than just his various stories which may or may not be true?

  • @BhargavRao That Wikipedia page is less than helpful :O
    – user5387
    Apr 25, 2020 at 7:13
  • 1
    And definitely needs some editing for grammar and objectivity! @BhargavRao thanks, that (presumably) answers my question about whether more is known about him, but it's certainly not the first place he was introduced, since it comes decades after Malgudi Days.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Apr 25, 2020 at 7:25
  • 1
    Probably the Common Man's elder brother.
    – muru
    Apr 25, 2020 at 10:53


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