Breaking the constraints of style and imagery central to classical Tamil literature, Mahakavi C. Subramania Bharati (1882â1921) heralded a new era for the language by making it simpler, thereby encouraging a wider readership. His prodigious contribution to the writings of his homeland – done while in exile during a tumultuous time in the nation's freedom movement – has since propelled his stature to that of a revered literary figure in the subcontinent.
In The Chariot of Wisdom, his only novella, a vexed journalist, plagued by material worries and the daily attrition of twentieth-century, British-occupied India, escapes into a daydream to realms mystical and unexplored. He navigates an imaginary chariot through The World of Tranquillity, The World of Pleasure, The World of Truth and The World of Dharma, and finds his values and ideals informing, competing and often contradicting one another. As his self-doubts deepen, he battles the notion that peace and happiness come at a price.
A critical examination of a colonized, afflicted civilization marred by corruption and greed, Bharati's pioneering work speaks to a morally wounded country through astute observations and lively humour. Translated with refined intellectual acuity by Gregory James, this modern classic – as timely today as it was a century ago – is a cleverly masked plea to the people of a distracted nation to rally together in pursuit of a just society.
Classification : Translation
Pub Date : MAY 25, 2023
Imprint : Hachette India
Page Extent : 280
Binding : PB
ISBN : 9789393701848
Price : INR 499
Subramania Bharati (1882–1921) was a Tamil journalist, translator, writer, poet, visionary social reformer and passionate independence activist. Popularly known as Mahakavi Bharati (great poet Bharati), he was a pioneer of modern Tamil poetry and is considered one of Tamil's greatest literary figures. His prolific output covered a wide range of topics, including nationalism, democracy, religion, the emancipation of women, child marriage, the caste system, nature and the environment, love and romance, philosophy and spiritualism and the Tamil language. During the colonial period, his pro-independence journalistic writings and patriotic songs led to him being marked by the authorities. In 1908, he moved to Puducherry, where he lived in exile until 1918. On his return to India, he was arrested and imprisoned. Bharati died in poverty in 1921 from injuries sustained from a temple elephant in Chennai. In recognition of his exceptional contribution to Indian culture, the Government of India conferred him the title of Indian 'National Poet', and Bharathiar University, a state university established in Coimbatore in 1982, was named after him.
Gregory James is a graduate of the Universities of Edinburgh, Reading, and Exeter. He followed a career in language education in England, Germany, India, Iran, and China (Hong Kong), where he now lives in retirement. His publications include ColporulÌ£: A History of Tamil Dictionaries (Chennai, 2000), and translations into English of works by Erode Tamilanban: Poems of Questions (Chennai, 2018), and Glow-worm Woods (Chennai, 2019), the former with Loraine Bock, also into Spanish, Poemas de Preguntas (Chennai, 2019). In 2020, Professor James was presented with the Veeramamunivar Award of the Government of Tamil Nadu.