Melville’s Ahab in Moby Dick and R K Narayan’s Vasu in The Man-eater of Malgudi: A Quest to Enter a “New World”

  • Vipin K Sharma English Language Institute, Jazan University, Saudi Arabia


Utilizing critical literature on Melville and RK Narayan and then reading Moby-Dick (1851) and The Man Eater of Malgudi closely (1961), this article concerns American and Indian works of literature and argues that both writers were among the leading imaginative writers to create niches in terms of philosophy. Both used imagination, symbolism, and spiritual and universal impulses to make the characters and books worth reading. However, both novels portray a quest to enter a “New World” through protagonists Ahab and Vasu, who bring multiple concerns and commit catastrophic blunders. The article sails through a comparative study of the protagonists analyzing the critical factors, such as adventurous and mysterious wanderers, the universe being both godless and purposeless, virtues versus sins, influence and fusion of divergent subjects, their anti-life and anti-nature attitude, intelligence and wisdom and archetype ambitions that lead them to self-destruction. This paper intends to explore the dynamics of the relationship between American and Indian Literature through protagonists Ahab and Vasu’s acquisitive, coseismic, nomadic, and fanatic nature in their quest to enter a “New World” to address aspects that the present time calls for; hence, making both novels great in the twenty-first century.


Chase, R. (1949). Herman Melville: A Critical Study. Macmillan.
Cole, T. (2012). Open City. Random House.
Constantinesco, T. (2021). "I must Calculate Over Again": Measures of Pain in Melville. Textual Practice, 35(11), 1733-1749.
Hamad, A. (1999). The Quest Pattern and Motif in American Sea-Novel. Journal of Al Baath University, 2, 5-42.
Iyengar, S. (1975). Indian Writing in English. Asia Publication House.
Lovasz, A. (2022). Object-Oriented Literary Studies and Melville’s Cosmos: Writing as Dissemination in Moby-Dick. Textual Practice, 36(1), 58-75.
Matthiessen, F.O. (1941). American Renaissance. Oxford University Press.
Naik, M. K. (1976). Theme and Form in R.K. Narayan’s the Man-eater of Malgudi. The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 7(3), 66-72.
Narayan, R.K. (1994). The Man-Eater of Malgudi. Indian Thought Publishers.
Parke, J. (1955). Seven Moby-Dicks. The New England Quarterly, 28(2), 319-338.
Parker, H. (2002). Herman Melville: A Biography. Vol. 2, 1851-1891. The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801868920
Parker, H., & Hayford, H. (Eds.). (2002). Moby-Dick. In Herman Melville. Norton.
Priyanka. (2014). Conflict Between Good and Evil in R.K. Narayan’s the Man-Eater of Malgudi. International Journal of Research, 1(5), 942-950.
Radhika. (2016). R.K. Narayan’s the Man Eater of Malgudi: a Victory of Good Over Evil. Research Journal of English Language and Literature, 4(2), 893-896.
Sarkar S. (2019, October 21). The Man-Eater of Malgudi as a Picaresque Novel. E-Literature.
Saxena, O. P. (1985). The Man-Eater of Malgudi: A Study of Narayan's Vision of Evil. In Saxena (Eds.). Glimpses of Indo-English Fiction (pp. 283-294). Jainsons Publications.
Schenck, A. (2022). White Whales, Bedbugs, and the Quest for Truth: Demystifying the Role of Julius in Teju Cole’s Open City through Comparison with Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Cogent Arts & Humanities, 9(1).
Sharma, V.K. (2006). The Comic Vision of R.K. Narayan in The Maneater of Malgudi and The Guide. [Master's Thesis, Alagappa University].
Sharma, V.K. (2017). The Impact of Oriental Thought on Emerson and Thoreau. Lambert Academic Publishing.
Shinde, P. P. (2020). Portrayal of R.K. Narayan’s "The Man-Eater of Malgudi" as an Allegorical Novel: An Overview. Shanlax International Journal of English, 9(1), 13-15.
Syal, J. (2017). Characterization in R.K. Narayan’s the Man-Eater of Malgudi. International Journal of Current Research, 9(12), 55154-55157.
Tennyson, Alfred. (1850). In Memoriam A.H.H.
Walcut, C.C. (1981). Moby-Dick. In Herman Melville. Bantam Books.
Walsh, W. (1970). A Manifold Voice. Chato and Windus.
Williams, H.M. (1977). Indo-Anglian Literature 1800-1970: A Survey. South Asia Books.
Yadav, M. S., & Yadav, M. K. (2019). A Determined Observation and the Investigation of Moby Dick as a Symbol of Evil. International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation, 2(2), 62–70.
How to Cite
SHARMA, Vipin K. Melville’s Ahab in Moby Dick and R K Narayan’s Vasu in The Man-eater of Malgudi: A Quest to Enter a “New World”. Jurnal Ilmiah Peuradeun, [S.l.], v. 11, n. 2, p. 747-762, may 2023. ISSN 2443-2067. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 23 may 2024. doi: