Journal of Indian Philosophy

, 39:589 | Cite as

U. Vē. Cāminātaiyar and the Construction of Tamil Literary “Tradition”

Article

Abstract

U. Vē. Cāminātaiyar (1885–1942) is arguably one of the most influential figures of the so-called “Tamil Renaissance” of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; his work has profoundly shaped the study of Tamil literature, both in India and the Euro-American academy, for more than a century. Among his many literary works is a long and incomplete autobiographical treatise known as Eṉ Carittiram, literally “My Life Story,” initially published in 122 installments between 1940 and 1942. What little scholarly attention this fascinating autobiographical narrative has received thus far has largely read the text as an artless, transparent documenting of South Indian literary culture in the late nineteenth century. Yet the text reveals substantial rhetorical art on close reading. Greater attention to Cāminātaiyar’s specific context and probable concerns when composing (and publicly publishing) Eṉ Carittiram suggests alternative ways of reading Tamil literary history and those texts that he first made widely available.

Keywords

Cāminātaiyar Tamil literature Autobiography Brahmins 

References

  1. Arnold D., Blackburn S. (2004) Introduction: Life histories in India. In: Arnold D., Blackburn S. (eds) Telling lives in India: Biography, autobiography, and life history. Indiana University, Bloomington, pp 1–28Google Scholar
  2. Cāminātaiyar, U. Vē. (1958). Eṉ carittiram (Ki. Vā. Jakaṉṉātaṉ Abr.). Ceṉṉai: Tiyākarāja Vilācam.Google Scholar
  3. Cāminātaiyar, U. Vē. (1976). A poet’s poet: Life of Maha Vidwan Meenakshisundaram Pillai, based on the biography in Tamil by Mahamahopdhyaya Dr. U. V. Swaminathaiyer (S. K. Guruswamy, Trans.). Madras: Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. U. V. Swaminatha Iyer Library.Google Scholar
  4. Cāminātaiyar, U. Vē. (1982). Eṉ carittiram. Ceṉṉai: Makāmahōpāttiyāya U. Vē. Cāminātaiyar Nūl Nilaiyam.Google Scholar
  5. Cāminātaiyar, U. Vē. (1986). Śrī Mīṉāṭcicuntaram Piḷḷaiyavarkạliṉ carittiram (2 Vols.). Tañcāvūr: Tamiḻ Palkalai Kaḻakam.Google Scholar
  6. Cāminātaiyar, U. Vē. (1990). The story of my life (Eṉ carittiram) (2 Vols.) (K. V. Zvelebil, Trans.). Madras: Institute of Asian Studies.Google Scholar
  7. Cāttaṉār. Maṇimēkalai. (1981). U. Vē. Cāminātaiyar (Ed.). Ceṉṉai: Ṭākṭar U. Vē. Cāminātaiyar Nūl Nilaiyam.Google Scholar
  8. Cutler N. (2003) Three moments in the genealogy of Tamil literary culture. In: Pollock S. (Ed.) Literary cultures in history: Reconstructions from South Asia. University of California, Berkeley, pp 271–322Google Scholar
  9. Ebeling S. (2010) Colonizing the realm of words: The transformation of Tamil literature in nineteenth-century south India. State University of New York, AlbanyGoogle Scholar
  10. Gandhi M.K. (1957) An autobiography: My experiments with truth. Beacon Press, BostonGoogle Scholar
  11. Gros, F., Kannan, M. (eds) (2009) Passages: Relationships between Tamil and Sanskrit. French Institute of Indology/University of California, Pondicherry/BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  12. Hart G.L. (1975) The poems of ancient Tamil: Their milieu and their Sanskrit counterparts. University of California, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  13. Irschick E.F. (1969) Politics and social conflict in south India: The Non-Brahmin movement and Tamil separatism. University of California, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  14. Irschick, E. F. (1986). Tamil revivalism in the 1930s. Madras: Cre-A.Google Scholar
  15. Irschick E.F. (1994) Dialogue and history: Constructing South India, 1795–1895. Oxford University, DelhiGoogle Scholar
  16. Kampaṉ. (1988). The forest book of the Rāmāyaṇa of Kampaṉ (G. L. Hart & H. Heifetz, Trans.). Berkeley: University of California.Google Scholar
  17. Kaplan A. (1992) The rhetoric of circumstance in autobiography. Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric 10(1): 71–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Nambi Arooran K. (1980) Tamil renaissance and Dravidian nationalism. Koodal, MaduraiGoogle Scholar
  19. Ramaswamy S. (1997) Passions of the tongue: Language devotion in Tamil India, 1891–1970. University of California, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  20. Ramaswamy S. (1998) Language of the people in the world of the gods: Ideologies of Tamil before the nation. Journal of Asian studies 57(1): 66–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sivathamby K. (1986) Literary history in Tamil: A historiographical analysis. Tamil University, ThanjavurGoogle Scholar
  22. Zvelebil K.V. (1973) The smile of Murugan on Tamil literature of South India. E. J. Brill, LeidenGoogle Scholar
  23. Zvelebil K.V. (1995) A lexicon of Tamil literature. Brill, New YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard Divinity SchoolCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations