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A01141 Twentieth Century Epics

  • LESSON - 1

    A01141 Twentieth Century Epics

    This lesson offers an introduction to twentieth century Tamil epics. Among the various genres in literature the epic is the most ancient. It is essential to understand the evolution of the epic genre down the centuries before analyzing its growth and importance in the twentieth century. This lesson traces very briefly the history of Tamil epics with special emphasis on the different types of epics and their characteristic features. It then lists the most popular Tamil epics of the twentieth century and analyses their features.

    "Thandialangaram", a book of grammar which dates back to the 12th century A.D., lays down the rules governing epic poetry. No period in Tamil literary history can be called the age of epics. Epics have been written from time to time ever since the first epic "Silapathigaram" was written in the 2nd century B.C.

    Tamil epics are classified into 4 types: "Perungkappiyam" (Big Epic), "Sirukappiam" (Small Epic), "Valarchikappiyam" (Epic based on the oral tradition) and "Kalaikappiam" (Literary Epic). Perungkappiam strictly adheres to the rules of epic poetry expounded in the "Thandialangaram". Sirukappiam does not follow all the rules. The five great epics in Tamil namely, "Silapathigaram", "Manimekalai", "Valaiyapathy", "Kundalakesi" and "Seevakasinthamani" are examples of Perungkappiam while "Neelakesi", "Yasodara Kaaviyam", "Udhayanakumara Kaaviyam" are called Sirukappiam. Valarchikappiam is based on stories belonging to the oral tradition while Kalaikappiam is wholly the creation of the poet’s imagination. Twentieth century epics such as "Baratha Sakthi Maha Kaaviyam" and "Raavana Kaaviyam" are examples of Kalaikappiam.

    Epics in Tamil are not always about great kings. Some of them also tell the story of ordinary men and women, for example, "Silapathigaram", "Manimekalai" and "Neelakesi". "Silapathigaram", which is hailed as the first epic in Tamil, talks about all religions while in the later epics there is a marked tendency to focus on a particular religion. It is also interesting to note that "Silapathigaram", "Manimekalai" and "Neelakesi" have women protagonists.

    A number of epics have been written in the twentieth century. "Baratha Sakthi Maha Kaaviyam", "Iratchanya Yaathrigam", "Manitha Deivam Gandhi", "Poongodi" and "Ravana Kaaviyam" are the 5 important epics of the twentieth century. These epics differ from epics of the earlier centuries by virtue of their themes, protagonists and literary techniques. A translation of John Bunyan’s "Pilgrim’s Progress", "Iratchanya Yaathrigam" speaks of the spiritual progress of an ordinary mortal. "Baratha Sakthi Maha Kaaviyam" written by Suthanandha Barathi has a very ideal man as its protagonist. It differs from other Tamil epics in terms of meter, use of epic similes and the inclusion Kadavul Vaazhthu (invocation). "Poongodi" is similar to "Manimekalai" in many ways. However, unlike "Manimelalai", it gives a lot of importance to the glory of the Tamil language, Tamil music and the origin of Tamil literary works. "Manitha Deivam Gandhi", written by Arang Sreenivasan, celebrates the life of Mahatma Gandhi. "Ravana Kaaviyam" written by Pulavar Kuzhandhai is opposed to "Kambaramayanam". It also has several unique features that set it apart from the epics of earlier periods. Other twentieth century epics have political leaders as their protagonists and sing of their achievements.

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புதுப்பிக்கபட்ட நாள் : 10-09-2018 13:22:09(இந்திய நேரம்)