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`Theoretical criticism spoils literary pleasure'

By Our Staff Reporter

THRISSUR MAY 29. The noted social and literary critic, Sukumar Azhikode, has said that the excessive dependence on Western theoretical criticism was hampering the genuine and deep internal pleasure that literary works are expected to provide.

Inaugurating a function organised to present the Muttathu Varkey Literary Award to the novelist, Sethu, here on Wednesday, Prof. Azhikode said that though literary criticism had been given an important place in the Indian aesthetic concepts, its practitioners had always given priority to originality. ``That is why Indians held poets and creative writers in great esteem. The role of the critics was to merely lay a road to the world of aesthetic enjoyment that creative writers try to unravel.''

However, Prof. Azhikode lamented that colonialism had polluted our native aesthetic tastes. Literary criticism thus became a dangerous tool to institutionalise a new caste-like system for discriminating people in the literary field, he said.

He added that the effort to `decolonise', which was evident in other walks of life, was missing in literature.

Reiterating the supremacy of originality over critical works in the literary field, Prof. Azhikode said, "In literature, there is no final verdict over the greatness of a writer."

Emphasising the contribution of literature for the nourishment of the spirit, Prof. Azhikode said, ``Literature has this unique capacity to strip the human being of all his embellishments and to force him confront himself in his original form. That is why we experience a sense of equality with other human beings when we get close to the literary spirit. And it is this unique capacity that has enabled literature to remain as a powerful movement to rejuvenate the human spirit even when all other movements that were launched with the same objective got pathetically defeated."

Lauding the literary contributions of Muttathu Varkey, Prof. Azhikode said that one might have differences of opinion about Muttahtu Varkey's perspective. But the fact is that he wrote many stories and novels, which were read and appreciated by many. He played a great role in reaching literature to thousands of families, particularly women, in our State. Muttathu Varkey always wanted to write stories that were appealing to his readers. He was also able to discern the plight of the most downtrodden in society and express it powerfully through his works.

The noted writer, M.T. Vasudevan Nair, said one of most dangerous traps in the creative field is to accept the prefabricated notions on any development. The novelist, Mukundan, who presided over the function said literary works which express the authors' unique experiences and lived situations are now finding increasing acceptance in the literary field across the world, pushing back writings which express only the universal experiences and situations.

Mr. Nair presented the awards to Mr. Sethu and Veena G. Nair who had won in the literary competitions held at the college level. Sakharia Sakharia delivered the Muttathu Varkey remembrance talk.

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