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Break stagnation in Tamil Dalit literary sphere: Writers

Written by: Staff
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Virudhachalam, Tamil Nadu, July 9: Dalit literature, which emerged with a bang, infusing fresh blood into the Tamil creative sphere in the '90s, is now facing stagnation which needs to be addressed immediately, according to authors and critics in this domain.

This was discussed at a meeting of Dalit novelists, poets, authors and critics, held at this small town in Cuddalore district yesterday. Reasons for the present state of affairs and the socio-political context were taken up with a view to move ahead.

Despite having reached newer heights with innovations in the narrative as well as content, this genre had to stamp its imprint in many other spheres of the literary domain, like theatre and autobiography, observed Dr K A Gunasekaran, noted theatre artist and Professor at Pondicherry University.

Many speakers pointed out the need to develop a Dalit critical theory, similar to Feminist and Racial Critical Theories. While studies on particular issues were available, the absence of a critical theory providing the necessary tools of analysis from a Dalit perspective and worldview was admitted with great regret. This was a task, which required critics and authors to play a crucial role, and not the academia, it was pointed out.

Listing the issues facing Dalit literature, noted critic and DPI Legislator Ravikumar said language, style, content and vision still continued to be areas of concern. Calling upon budding writers to read and familiarise them with the classics of other languages, he said Dalit aesthetics was yet be brought out in its totality in Dalit writings. However, he admitted that Dalits were not an exception since reading was becoming obsolete in Tamil society in general.

On the liberative potential of Dalit literature, many speakers pointed out that market-driven writings being masqueraded as Dalit literature posed a real threat, besides being a prime cause for this present stagnation.

Retrieving colonial Dalit history and reconstructing the past from an authentic Dalit standpoint were discussed at the meeting.

They pointed out that Ayotheedas Pandithar, a pioneer who propounded a modern Tamil identity, Dalit stalwarts like M C Raja, Rettamalai Seenivasan and many other leaders would throw new light on colonial as well as post-colonial Dalit history of Tamil Nadu.

The meeting, organised by Imayam, author of famed novels 'Koveru Kazhudaigal', 'Arumugam' and 'Sedal', decided that this year being the platinum jubilee of the Poona Pact, should be observed with many programmes and publications. Around 100 creative writers participated in the programme. The next meet of the writers had been fixed for August 26 in Chennai.

UNI

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