Sundara Kaandam originally published in Tamil, portrays the ordeals faced by the Indian woman with an uncommon sensitivity. The protagonist Sita is forced into marrying a playboy millionaire Sukumaran. She holds out with determination and he deals with his married life with distant dignity a la epic Ravenna. Giridhar, an idealistic social activist, flits across the canvas with a Rama like visage. Sundara Kaandam is a riveting narrative marked by empathy and perceptiveness.
Born in 1934, Jaykanthan has to his credit about forty novel two hundred short stories and fifteen collections of essays besides some translations. Some of his important works include Oru Nadigai Nadigai Natakam Parkiral, Andhra Akkavaithedi & Veettukkulle Pennai (Novels), Chakkaram Nirpadillai, etc. An important figure in Tamil literature his novel Nerangalil Sila Manithargal won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1972.
K S Subramanian (1937) has translated a number of works from Tamil to English: 11 novels, 7 novellas, a collection of short stories, 3 collections of essays and 3 volumes of Tamil New poetry. Five volumes of his articles and papers have been published in Tamil. He was a former member of the Tamil Advisory Board of Sahitya Akademi.
As we all know all languages in todays would advance and develop because of various internal and external pressures and because of the ensuing tensions. These tensions are truly reflected in the creative writing that happens within each speech community. It is our experience that there is so much to learn one another in this field, provided we have an agency or two that are ready to take the trouble to build bridges between linguistic group. The Sahitya Akademi, which is India’s National Academy of Letters and the Central Institute (CIIL)-the apex body dealing with all Indian languages and linguistics set up by the Government of India are two two such institutions that devote a lot of energy in ensuring that translation receives the right linking our languages among themselves, and also with the world outside. It is with aim that ‘katha Bharati’ was taken up by the CIIL as a major project in collaboration with Sahitya Akademi so that the best of our writings reach from all major languages in India to international arena-first into English, and then into other important languages. The main trust of the project to make available one hundred master-pieces, which we would like to call the contemporary classics (mostly fiction) originally written in different Indian languages to the international reading community. Katha bharti will have both print and electronic versions, and have the subtitle of “The Library of Indian Literary Classics.”
Under the Katha Bharti series, as one of the first offerings, we would like to present the English translation of Sundara kaandam, one of the best novels in Tamil written by Jayakanthan (born 1934) who has been contributing to creative writing in Tamil during the second half of the 20th century. His output an amazing rang and depth, has been prolific: 14 novels; over 30 novelas; over 130 short stories; essays; many thought-provoking prefaces: and two autobiographical works. He has won many honors and awards including Jnanpith Award, Sahitya Akademi Award and Rajarajan Award. He is a Fellow of the Sahitya Akademi.
The evocation social allegory that emerges from this work gives a glimpse of the Indian society peopled by women aspersion to be Sites without their Ramas. Ramas spinning in their own orbits and the ubiquitous Ravines holding sway. The central character Sita is a woman of great determination pushed into marrying a playboy millionaire Sukumaran by her middle class father eager to seal good alliance for his loving daughter and also reap incidental divineds. Sukuumaran has the dignity of the epic Ravana who would not touch Sita without her consent. The consent never comes and the marriage begins and ends as a charade, a prostrated social make-belief. The Rama analogue Giridar is a doctor with total involvement in social work. Sita is lost in admiration of Girder but nothing more. The lyrical beauty of this novel is that there are no archetypical symbols.
This work has been effectively translated into English by Dr. S. Subramanian (born 1937) who served the Government of India (IRAS) from 1960 to 1975, and the Asian development Bank from 1975 to 1988. retiring as Director. He has translation a number of works from Tamil to English; 11 novels; 7 novellas; 3 volumes of New Poetry; and a collection each of short stories and essays. Four collections of his articles in Tamil on literary social and development themes have been published. He is a trustee of Mozhi trust, a resource centre have language and culture. We are happy to introduce this work to the international audience.
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