Title of the book “Payanmuraith Thirnaivu Nutpangal
Literary criticism: some practical insights,applications.
Author: Prof.Antony Cruz,
Professor and Head of the Department,Tamil studies,
This is a brief and yet a highly accomplished exercise in literary criticism covering some unsual fields in literature in the Tamil langauge.
Just in 150 pages,with 15 chapters,the essays collected here deal with topics and fields that are not covered by many other academics.The first chapter itself is a highly sensitive issue of sexualism and the feminist stands on such forbidden issues like gay sexual deviations.
The rise of feminism and the women rights awareness and the current women studies as an academic discipline in the latest literary and cultural theories like post-modernism etc are new to the average Tamil reader or the average Tamil scholar.As such,it is something of a daring approach to tackle the great theme of love and sex as viewed from the ancient Tamil classics.And as everyone knows,it is Thirukkural that alone is unique among the world language classics that devotes a whole one third of its entire text for the issue of love and sexual relations as man and women see it,the subject was dealt with some many centuries ago.In 10 pages there are about 17 references and from diverse sources.That shows the close reading the author has devoted to this highly sensitive and yet an important theme.The text is written in such transparent prose that any new reader from outside would find the reading a highly concentrated task..The second chapter is on the grammatical composition based on the Wren and Martin Grammar by a learned scholar of repute,the late Paavaanar,a Tamil professor of last generation.
Some of the best and most readable pages are the three chapters that deal with the letters writing as an art and piece of literary crativity.Here is a full coverage of some of the best letter writers who were also great men,poets,scholars,patriots and practising poltiiciains.The notable are the ones by the poet C.Subramanya Bharati,V.O.Chidambaram Pillai and the one by the Tamil scholar Paavaanar and the present Dravidian Chief Minister and literary personality.There are again a large reference here,some 40 sources.A very learned piece of composition,these three chapters.
Chapter six is about the difficult task of translation and the issues involved.This is again a very negelcted field and there is a great need and urgency to establish special departments in universities and in P.G.courses that would enable a vigorous translation tradition in the Tamil literary field.More languages and loiteratures,comparative literatures would certainly contribute to make the Tamil literature more accessible to the non-Tamil readers.
Chapters seven,eight and nine deal with again a unique Tamil feature,that of the Tamil mystic poets,the famed Siddhars,a sect that,like Sufism,strived for fusion of many faiths and they were at once,mystics,poets as well as guides to a more disciplined monastic life system.This theme is also a new field that needs further studies.
Another path-breaking attempt is bring the new information technology and its offshoot,Internet in the application for teaching and spreading Tamil language learning through Internet learning.The very Internet medium is driven by English language and as such to attempt to write about this new technology in Tamil itself is a difficult task.Yet,with an open mind and with some dtermination and mental discipline the author has succeeded remarkably in this difficult terrain.This brief essay can straightaway be included in all school textbooks for the school leaving certificate examination.This is a timely essay and the author deserves all support and encouragement.
There is one brief literary criticism on V.Isvarmurti’s new collection of Tamil poems,”My world,my worldisness and my truths”,a collection that tries to cover a vast universe of experiences and introspections.The author has tried to touch upon the more difficult parts of the collection,namely,science and universe,science and philosophy and such metaphysical and scientific worlds.Again,a new approach to a difficult field of poetry making in Tamil.
The book,though small in size is rich in content and would serve as a useful text for any P.G.courses in hgiher studies in liteary criticism.Certainly a worthwhile piece of publication by the New Century Book House,Chennai.