Kalachuvadu Trust

Arts Research and Documentation
1999-2000

Grant Period: Over one year and six months

 

Principal Investigator: Dr. A.R. Venkatachalapathy

Kalachuvadu Trust is an organisation devoted to the promotion of Tamil art and literature. 

The Kalachuvadu Trust undertook comprehensive documentation of the writings of noted Tamil short story writer and essayist, Pudumaippithan. While the appeal of Pudumaippithan’s writing never waned in the half century since his death, the project facilitated a more scholarly understanding of the writer. This was IFA’s first grant in the field of literature that enabled the authentication and availability of different versions of a writer who had several pseudonyms, and whose writing is scattered in various issues of now largely defunct literary journals.

Pudumaippithan is credited with introducing a strikingly modern note into the predominantly romantic and didactic Tamil literature of the early 20th century. He and his associates adopted a more direct and vigorous style, and wrote on themes that were rooted in the social climate of colonial Tamil Nadu. In style, Pudumaippithan could be realistic, but he also employed fantasy, myth, satire and parody to good effect. According to the Kalachuvadu Trust, “While modernist and progressive writers see him as the father of realist writing in Tamil, a new breed of avant-garde writers is drawing inspiration from his non-linear and fantasy writings.”

The impetus for this project was largely derived from the Trust’s success in compiling a 350-page volume of some of Pudumaippithan’s uncollected and unpublished work. The favourable response to this publication, as well as the extensive undocumented material that was discovered while putting it together, led the group to consider undertaking a more exhaustive research and documentation project.

The Trust microfilmed and digitised the entire corpus of Pudumaippithan’s writings. The documentation of his work resulted in publications of a complete, annotated and variorum of his work, apart from enabling critical appraisal of Pudumaippithan in the context of other Indian writers.

This project has generated a wider interest in Pudumaippithan’s work. Recently, a translation of a selection of his writings in English was published by Katha. And the State government has nationalised the rights to Pudumaippithan’s work, which means that the government will pay a one-time royalty to the family, after which no publisher reprinting his work would need permission from or pay royalty to the family.