Saturday, August 14, 2010

When speech showered like snow...

Ki. Ram. Nagaraj brought alive through his dynamic speech the dormant written word. This unusual scholar, a blend of several schools of thought, was a puranic in the true spirit

Most writers in the early phase of modern Kannada literature were not pre-occupied with either literary criticism or evaluating their contemporaries. They were of course critical of the past, but were not critical of their contemporaries. There was some amount of evaluation — that is they chose works that caught their attention and historically assessed them. It was a period of fertile imagination and major writers such as Masti, Kuvempu, Bendre, Sriranga and many others wrote very differently from each other. Despite their diverse styles and worldviews, they all acted together to create a tradition that one could call the Modern Phase of Kannada Literature.

After Independence, there was disillusionment towards the élan that the great writers of the first phase had in their creative endeavour. Gopalakrishna Adiga, who pioneered the later phase, deemed it important to discriminate and resist sentimentality which flourished among the lesser writers of the first phase. This was also a period when important critics emerged – Keertinath Kurthukoti, an important voice in this period, was a great commentator of the past as well as the present, and made distinctions of major and minor writers. Shankar Mokashi Punekar, Kurthukoti's contemporary, was intellectually modern, but emotionally resisted the desire to differentiate between major and minor writers. Ki. Ram. Nagaraj, who passed away last week, figured in the next phase of critics; he had internalised perspectives of both Kurthukoti and Punekar. He could enthusiastically talk about a contemporary writer as well as classical writers such as Pampa and Kumaravyasa. He never used criticism to merely historically account for the importance of any writer, but took delight in celebrating the use of Kannada language. He was vastly read in modern European literary critical theory, but never talked about it for its own sake. Anything he read illumined for him some Kannada writer or the other. And thus his response went on increasing in its intensity and complexity. In other words, the creative text was primary for him and critical theory, which did offer him assistance, was secondary.

Full report here Hindu

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