The Painter of Signs (1976) is R. K. Narayan's last major novel. The fiction that he produced in his seventies and eighties is variable in quality, but generally demonstrates a falling-off in his talents. Nevertheless, it develops interesting variations on several of the defining themes of his novels, particularly the passage into the fourth stage of the varnasramadharma, the discursive constitution of space, oral mythologies and Hindu reverence for animal life and the natural world. The last of these concerns is central to both the theme and the point of view of the novel that he has referred to as his favourite, A Tiger for Malgudi (1983). In one sense, A Tiger for Malgudi returns to issues explored in The Man-Eater of Malgudi (1961). It is useful to consider some of the tropological associations with which tigers have been invested in India. At least one strand of the narrative of Narayan's next novel, Talkative Man (1986), suggests a parallel with A Tiger for Malgudi. Another late Narayan novel is The World of Nagaraj (1990).
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