Essays on Kamba Ramayanam

Charukesi

KAMBANIL SOL PUDHIDHU, PORUL PUDHIDHU:Compiled by Solomon Pappaiah; Sri Meenakshi Nilayam, Vasudhara Complex, 78, T.P.K. Road, Andalpuram, Madurai-625003.

ARGUABLY ONE of the finest collections of interpretative articles on ‘Kamba Ramayanam', this book has essays by 11 scholars. While Ki. Velayudhan speaks of the poet's literary power as a whiff of fresh air, Ku. Ramamurthy discusses Rama's leadership qualities, highlighting that lending an ear even to the lowly is a leader's distinguishing trait. While M.P. Srinivasan brings out the influence of Azhvars' hymns on Kamban, Manavalan elaborately deals with different versions of the Ahalya episode.

C.S. Visalakshi delineates the nuances of the characterisation of the Sugriva. Vasudeva Govindaraja Bhattachariar looks at the Upanishadic ideas found in Kamban's work and Arunagiri focusses on the dramatic elements. For his part, Solomon Pappaiah makes a critical analysis of Sita's ‘Agni Pravesam', placing it in perspective. Thirumalai speaks of the influence of Sangam literature, while S.S.M. Sundaram argues Kachiappar, author of ‘Kanda Puranam', drew inspiration from Kamban.

The kingmaker

H. Ramakrishnan

KAMARAJAR KAAVIYAAM:Kavignar Sendhur Nagarajan; Senthil Pathippagam, 2 (Old No 90) Perumal Mudali Street, Royapettah, Chennai-600014. Rs. 500.

KAMARAJ, POPULARLY known in Tamil Nadu as Perunthalaivar (Great Leader), was indeed a leader of stature. If his tenure as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu is held out as an example of good governance, his role as president of the Congress party testified to his statesmanship. And the crucial post-Nehru years saw him emerge as a ‘kingmaker'.

Sendhur Nagarajan has attempted a a modern epic poem in blank verse on Kamaraj. A voluminous work running to 1000-odd pages, it sounds fresh, appears original, and is extensive but hardly monotonous. The historical events of those times are recounted. Describing the impact of Jallianwala Bagh massacre on young Kamaraj, the author says, “The fan that stirred up the sacrificial fire itself turned into an inferno.” On Kamaraj's election as a member of the working committee of the Pradesh Congress, he says: “The durable, firm and robust teak of Virudhunagar became a strong pillar of the Congress edifice. “

The author has admirably portrayed the noble thoughts, eminent deeds and remarkable achievements of Kamaraj in this epic poem, and his accomplishment evokes one's admiration. No less appreciable are the sensitivity with which he has approached the subject and his painstaking research.

MALAYALAM

Critical study

K. Kunhikrishnan

SETHU — Ezhuthum Vâyanayum: Edited by P.M. Shukkoor; Current Books, Thrissur-680001. Rs. 150.

SETHU (A. SETHUMADHAVAN) IS an outstanding modern littérateur, with 20 novels and several short story collections to his credit, quite a few of them bagging prestigious awards. His writings have been studied in depth by individuals and this is a collection of critical evaluation of his works by a diverse group of writers. Some of the articles are adulatory but the majority take a close, hard look at his writings.

Sethu's earliest short story Daahikkunna Bhoomi (1967: Parched earth), is on Bihar drought, and it remains one of the best ever in Malayalam. His ascendance to the top has been steady. Traversing from Pandavapuram through Niyogam , Aaraamathe Pennkutty , Kaimudrakal to Adayalangal , the essays focus on his multidimensional fiction. The dominant elements of fantasy and myth, modernity and tradition are dealt with in detail. His later novels project the existential dilemma, crisis of identity, and generation gap faced by women who live in semi-urban settings.

Sethu comes across as a writer far more committed to the cause of women than the feminists in different societies. In some cases, he adopts modern management principles with psychological insights and fantasy. The sensitivity with which such issues as the state of ‘love' and human relations is approached is remarkable and evokes empathy for women's predicament.

K.P. Appan and Raghunathan Parali look at the short story Doothu from two different perspectives. Shukkoor's introductory essay is comprehensive and commendably analytical but, one felt, the volume could have been edited much better for cogency.