K.Chellappan, former head, Department of English, Bharathidasan University, known reverentially as KC in literary circles, has always believed in the interdependence between life and language, and word and world.
The learned audience in the Barbier Hall of St. Joseph’s College could have an instant grasp of this philosophy on Tuesday when KC emphasised that literature through which mankind sees the inner beauty of life has the potential to change life. “Literature is beautiful and life is holy,” KC said, speaking on ‘Life of Literature’ after the release of the book titled ‘One Humanity One Literature’ in felicitation of his platinum jubilee. “Literature is not word, but life. Literature is my wife, and students my children,” said the bachelor who is ecstatic about dedicating his life to the study of English and Tamil literatures, bringing him the reputation of being a renowned expert in comparative literature.
Quite fittingly, the college derived pride on the occasion in bestowing on KC the title of ‘Oppiyal Arignar’ (Comparatist Scholar). On behalf of the English and Tamil departments, the college Rector Rev. Fr. S. John Britto conferred the title on KC, which the recipient treasured as ‘Fellowship from the Oxford of Tamil Nadu’.
In reciprocation, Mr. Chellappan, an expert in Canadian literature, even handed over to the principal from his personal funds Rs. 25,000 for conducting events on comparative literature.
“It is rare to find a person of the calibre of KC whose expertise in English and Tamil literatures is on an even keel, R. Nallakannu, senior leader of CPI and Chairman of New Century Book House, Chennai, said, after releasing the book edited by P.K. Ponnuswamy, former Vice Chancellor of University of Madras and Madurai Kamaraj University.
Learned members of CPI movement hold KC in high esteem for his humility and intellect, and the dedication with which he dealt Tamil and English literatures, enriching both, Mr. Nallakannu said.
The consummate ease with which KC could speak in both languages was as much extolled by the Vice Chancellor of Tamil University, Thanjavur, M. Thirumalai, who received the first copy of the book, and Prema Nandakumar, writer and scholar critic. Though beset with physical difficulties, KC controls body with mind, renewing knowledge perennially with a dedication to the teaching profession, Mr. Thirumalai said, recounting from his experiences as a student listening to KC’s talk on ‘Silappathikaram’. Referring to KC as a bridge builder between English and Tamil, Mr. Prema Nandakumar said there was never a dull moment in the book reflecting a tribute to the long-standing friendship between KC and Mr. Ponnuswamy.
Rev. Fr. John Britto termed KC a multi-cultural person accepting pluralism with a broad outlook. The broad outlook motivated a love for literature, he said.
KC’s former student S. Annamalai, Deputy Editor and Chief of Bureau, The Hindu, Madurai, recounted the former’s influence in the literary and professional lives of many.
Brought out by Pon Naavarasu Trust, Udumalpet, and NCBH, Chennai, the book contains articles penned by KC’s literary associates and former students who now occupy important positions.