Letters full of literature
By N Vinoth Kumar | ENS | Published: 18th February 2013 08:30 AM |
With writer Krithika’s fourth death anniversary observed by a small literary circle on February 13 at the Roja Muthiah Research Library, a new book released on the same day on the correspondence between Krithika and Chitti provides readers with a chunk of information on art, literature and culture of their times (1960s and 70s) and reminds them of Krithika’s contributions to Tamil literature. The letters of the duo have been selected and compiled by the renowned historian and author K R A Narasiah and brought out as a book titled Lettered Dialogues.
Narasiah, who has immense sailing experience, is an author of popular books such as Kadalvazhi Vanigam, Kadalodi, Madarasa Pattinam and Aalavai among others. It was in 1992, he got interested in history when the Government of India appointed him to write maritime history of ports, the result of which was Kadalvazhi Vanigam that fetched the State government’s award.
In 2000, when he was writing a personal history titled Saadhaarna Manidhan on his uncle Sundararajan, popularly known as Chitti, he got introduced to the letters that were passed between Krithika and Chitti. “I asked their permission to put those correspondence in the public domain and they accepted with an advice for careful selection of letters. I think I have kept the promise,” says Narasiah.
Krithika, whose real name is Mathuram Boothalingam, was a prominent literary figure and the author of books such as Pugai Naduvil and Vasaveswaram among others. She also wrote books in English under her real name and one of them, Movement in Stone, depicts sculpture in South India.
On the other end, Chitti was a popular writer, who co-authored the book Nadandhaai Vaazhi Kaveri along with T Janakiraman. When he had a chance to read Pugai Naduvil, the debut novel of Krithika, he found the novel unique and wrote a review in a magazine. Following that, they had a chance to meet in Chennai and eventually the process of writing letters started between them.
“They started writing letters from 1955 and the number of letters shared by them was about 407 until 2000. The 240 letters of Krithika were preserved by her daughter Mina Swaminathan and I had a chance to browse through all the letters and carefully select some till 1988 and I avoided letters of any personal remarks. It took me 18 months to read, select, compile and to comment on those letters,” Narasiah adds.
He further said, “The novel Pugai Naduvil depicts the bureaucracy and political situations of her time. Most of her book titles have an impact of poet Subramanya Bharathi such as Pugai Naduvil, Puthiya Konangi and Netrilirundhom among others. She was ahead of times and it can be known through her writings on psychology such as ‘anima animus’ and on feminism.” It is to be noted that she authored more than 50 books, of which most of them are yet to see the re-edition.
When asked about people’s interest in reading such letter literature in today’s fast-paced world, Narasiah said, “There is awareness among youth for good writing and so we hope these literatures too would be read by them.”