Collection of essays


K. P. Aravanan; Tamilkottam, 2, Munirathinam Street, Ayyavu Colony, Aminjikarai, Chennai-600029. Rs. 400.

IF THE objective of a preface is to give the contents of a book in a nutshell and in a way that compels the reader to go for it, then the prefaces by Ka. Pa. Aravanan presented in this collection more than serve the purpose. Written over a 40-year span — from late 1960s when he started his career as a lecturer in the St. Xavier's at Palayamkottai — these pieces cover a wide range of subjects.

An educationist and a scholar, Aravanan writes with passion. His anthropological and social studies of Tamils, their religion, attitude and culture evoke keen interest. Where he seeks to remind the Tamils of their glorious culture and tradition and exhort them to abide by the Tamil ethos and values, one could perceive an underpinning of anguish.

Among Aravanan's notable works is a study on the similarities between between the African and Tamil cultures, an effort facilitated by his stint at the Dakar University (Senegal). He is known to have made revolutionary changes in the Tamil curriculum in the educational institutions he has served.

From some of the prefaces, one could get a glimpse of Aravanan's life and illustrious career. His talent was spotted by one of the best minds in the field of Tamil studies, V.I. Subramaniam. Few would have got the opportunity to work in some of the best institutions in the State and elsewhere as Aravanan. TELUGU

A monograph

ABHINAVA POTHANA VANAMAMALAI VARADACHARYULU: Ande Venkata Rajam; Sahitya Akademi, Rabindra Bhavan, 35, Ferozeshah Road, New Delhi-110001. Rs. 40.

BORN IN a pundit family, Varadacharyulu (1914-84) had to undergo a lot of trials and tribulations but they did not in any way hamper his creativity. In the event, he emerged as one of the greatest writers in Telugu and came to be venerated as “Abhinava Pothana.” .

He did not get past the middle school level in formal education, but acquired scholarship in Sanskrit and Telugu literature and became an exponent of logic, philosophy and grammar. What proved a turning point is his initiation into the Vageeswari Devi mantra by Gopalacharyulu.

Unaffected by abject poverty and physical ailments that required frequent hospitalisation, he seemed to be living in communion with the divine, a rapport that enabled him to produce works of great literary merit, with Pothana Charitra at the pinnacle. Other works include: Mani Maala, Jaya Dhwajamu, Vipra labdha and Sthvaraja Panchasathi.

This book explains his life in great detail, and Ande Venkata Rajam has done a signal service to literature by coming out with this monograph.


The legendary comedian

CHAPLINTE CHIRI: Venu K. Desam; Green Books, M.G. Road, Thrissur-680001. Rs. 75.

CHARLES SPENCER Chaplin (1889-1977), popularly known and adored as ‘Charlie Chaplin', literally needs no introduction to any one the world over, leave alone film and humour aficionados. Born to Charles Chaplin Senior, a talented actor, and Hannah Chaplin, an accomplished opera actress and singer under the stage name ‘Lilly Harley', Charlie had a traumatic childhood.

An alcoholic father who died prematurely and a mother who became a mental wreck and committed, in the words of Richard Attenborough, to the “pauper lunatic asylum at Cane Hill, leaving the two boys to fend for themselves” — this was the predicament Charlie had to face. Charlie was shattered when he came to know that Sydney was only his half-brother, born out of his mother's earlier relationship.

With this miserable and bitter experience in his early years providing the backdrop, the innate histrionic talents and the artistic skills he inherited from his parents combined to make Charlie Chaplin what he was — the legendary comedian of the 20{+t}{+h} century in a class of his own, one who could produce humour out of grief.

Written specifically for children, the book provides a brief biographical sketch of Chaplin. The quality of editing leaves much to be desired. The trauma he underwent at the fag end of his life — for instance, the fact that he was confined to a wheelchair — and the support his wife, Oona, gave him during those days find no mention.

More In: Books