The inaugural T.G. Narayanan endowment lecture was delivered by Gauri Viswanathan

Madras Christian College’s department of English paid a fitting tribute to the conclusion of the 175th year celebrations of the college, by holding the first T.G. Narayanan endowment lecture.

The department invited Gauri Viswanathan, professor of English and comparative literature, Columbia University to deliver it.

Recalling her association with T.G. Narayanan, a former war correspondent with The Hindu, she said he would very often read out poems of John Keats and Samuel Coleridge. “It was he who introduced me to Indian cinema and I watched the Apu trilogy of Satyajit Ray as a 10-year-old,” Ms. Viswanathan said.

She spoke extensively on English studies in the era of globalisation and assessed the impact of post-colonialism in literature. During her interactive session with participants, to a specific question of how young people were pursuing English more for the sake of getting jobs than for the love of the language, Ms. Viswanathan while acknowledging it, said it would be interesting to see how the next phase of this continuing trend progressed.

Mr. Narayayan, born in 1911 in Kumbakonam, had his early schooling at the Hindu High School in Chennai, before completing his intermediate studies at MCC, when it was located in George Town then. He did an English Literature (Honours) degree from Presidency College and started his career as a school teacher of the language in Alwaye (Aluva now) in Kerala, according to his son Ranga Narayanan.

After a stint with All India Radio, Mr. Narayanan joined The Hindu and served as its war correspondent, covering conflicts in the sub-continent as well as in Southeast Asia.

He extensively covered the Bengal famine and also wrote a book Famine over Bengal with a foreword written by Vijayalakshmi Pandit, Ranga Narayanan informed the gathering.

He left The Hindu in 1948 and later worked with the United Nations and also served as the personal representative to its secretary general Dag Hammarskjold on nuclear disarmament. Mr. Ranga Narayanan said the starting of the endowment was a proud moment for his family, and that it was a great honour that a scholar of repute, Ms. Viswanathan delivered the first address.

R.W. Alexander Jesudassan, college principal and Stephen Jebanesan, head of the department of English, also participated in the programme.