Man of letters

Masti Venkatesha Iyengar.

Masti Venkatesha Iyengar.  

A s a tribute to the Kannada writer Masti Venkatesha Iyengar, the Kolar-based Dr. Masti Venkatesha Iyengar Trust is all set to release a two volume Masti Samagra Sahitya Avalokana ( a critical outlook Masti's complete works) on Gandhi Jayanthi (October 2) in Bangalore.

The volumes have accommodated expert comments on Masti's works by over 150 established writers and literary critics belonging to the three major schools of Kannada literary tradition.

Masti, who wrote under the pseudonym Srinivasa, has authored over 123 works in Kannada, beginning from Rangana Maduve in 1910 to Maatugaara Ramanna (1985) in different literary forms such as novel, play, essay, short story and poetry. Known for his lucid language and profound perspective, he influenced not only his contemporaries but is seen as legendary even today.

The books which run up to 1600 pages, have been edited by writer, filmmaker, and publisher Mavinakere Ranganathan. He attempts to capture the essence and vitality of Masti's creativity and personality. The volumes preserve the spirit of the times — spanning from Navodaya to post Navya. “I have fulfilled my responsibility. But I hope this work takes forward the literary aspirations of great writers like Masti,” says Ranganathan. Interestingly, some observations recorded in the volume emphatically echo the purpose of re-evaluation.

Chakravarthy Rajagopalacharya's observation provides an interesting insight into the quality of Masti's works and the need to see him more as a writer belonging to the true Indian literary tradition than viewing his creative perspective with a parochial outlook.

The acclaimed poet and litterateur Sumateendra Nadig in his article, Jnanpitha Prashasthi mattu Chikaveera Rajendra, observes: “Some people argue that Masti is not a novelist, and that he is only a short story writer. But there is no evidence that those critics have read Masti's novels. If Masti is not a novelist, neither are Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.”

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