The Sensualist (English, Paperback, Bond Ruskin)
The Sensualist is a novella by Ruskin Bond. It is a short tale which revolves around a man who has no control over his actions due to his heightened libido, which eventually moves him towards self destruction.
Summary Of The Book
The Sensualist revolves around the narrator and an ascetic. The story begins with the narrator’s climb up a mountain to find a place called Kapila. Along the way, he meets a starved recluse who lives in a cave. The recluse then narrates his story, a story full of sexual vices that has led him to a path of self destruction.
The recluse describes his sexual relationship with Mulia, a widow, the first person with whom he had an intimate relationship. Mulia introduces the recluse to a world of sexual activities where nothing is considered taboo. The recluse goes on to have an intimate relationship with his cousin, Samyukta. Shankini, a lesbian prostitute, is also a part of the recluse’s intimate circle. The important point to note here is that the recluse is the man in control throughout all these intimate relationships. This control is lost when he meets Roop Singh, a young runaway, during an unscheduled stop from a trip to Delhi. He ends up meeting Singh’s mother in his quest to help the boy.
She is insatiable in her ways and devours the recluse as he had devoured the other women he was intimate with. With his sexual powers now diminished, the recluse does not find women attractive anymore. Thus, begins a new chapter in the protagonist's search for his inner self.
The interactions between the narrator and the recluse are both fascinating and engrossing. The Sensualist transcends from the past to the present and vice versa with ease. It was considered far ahead of its times and was heavily panned for obscenity. Ruskin Bond tries to dig deep into the dark side of the human psyche and comes up with a taut storyline.
The Sensualist was first printed in 1999 and although it did not win any awards, it created a lot of controversy for the way sexual relationships are depicted in the story.
About Ruskin Bond
Ruskin Bond is an Indian author and winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award for his short stories collection. Ruskin’s autobiographical work Rain In The Mountains, is said to be about the years he spent living in Mussoorie. Some of Ruskin Bond’s other works are All Roads Lead To Ganga, Potpourri, The Kashmiri Storyteller, Funny Side Up, The Night Train At Deoli, A Flight Of Pigeons, A Season Of Ghosts, and Susanna’s Seven Husbands.
Born in Kasauli in 1934, he was awarded the Padma Shri in 1999 and also the Sahitya Akademi Award. He studied at Shimla’s Bishop Cotton School. Ruskin’s novel The Flight of Pigeons was adapted into a film, Junoon, while BBC adapted The Room On The Roof into a mini series. He was presented with the John Llewellyn Rhys prize in 1957. Ruskin Bond now lives in Landour near Mussoorie.
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