Tamil literary journals seven decades ago | Sunday Observer

Tamil literary journals seven decades ago

7 February, 2021

Maragatham had important articles on Deshiya Ilakiyam and Eelathu Ilakiyam. It was edited by Subhair, who was known by familiar name Ilankeeran. It also includes creative writings.

It had introduced Western writers, such as Albert Camus, Franz Kafka and Giovanni Verge et al.

Mallikai was a longstanding influential journal, now defunct. It was edited by Dominic Jeeva.

The editor of the journal got together regional writers write to the journal. Most progressive writers wrote to the journal. He published special regional editions. Kekirawa Sahana, Negombo L. Murugapoopathy, Dickwela Kamal and others came to the limelight. Muslim writers came to be recognised.

M Basheer was one. More research and academic writing found their place when professors K Kailasapathi, K Sivathambi, M A Nuhman and M. Ponnambalam wrote. He published several translations of Sinhala writers. He introduced Alagu Subramaniam’s English works. There was an interesting debate on literature in the journal. Kumaran was a Mao slanted journal edited by writer S Ganshalingan.

Progressive writers

Thaayaham, started in 1974, ceased for some time and republished from 1984. It primarily encouraged Hill Country progressive writers. The journal often conducts seminars on literature and publishes books. Barathi Pan Muhap Paarvai was one of such books.

Besides the Marxist oriented journals, two other non-partisan journals were Siritharan (1956) and Poorani (1972).

Poorani was primarily edited by M Thalayasingam, a prominent writer. His philosophical writings appeared in this- particularly on Prapanja Yatharthavatham K Saddanathan, N K Mahalingam, Jeevakarunyan M Neminathan, M Thangavel and others wrote for this journal.

Sirithiran, started as a humorous magazine, became a commentator on social, political arts and literature.

It was edited by a cartoonist Sivagnanasuntharam.

Malar came from Maddakkalappu. It brought out several writers to the forefront from the Eastern Province.

At this time, dailies, such as the Virakesari and the Thinakaran changed their stance and began to give importance to Sri Lankan writers.

Prof K Kailasapathy was the editor of the Thinakaran during 1956-1961 before he went to the University of Peradeniya to join the tutorial staff. During his editorship, old and new writers were encouraged to write.

There was a harvest of fine fiction in Tamil. He invited literary critics to contribute. In Lankan Tamil politics, the decade from 1975 to 1885 was a crucial period with nationalism evolving. Sudar (1975), Alai (1976, and Puthusu (1980) were literary journals but couldn’t including the trends around.

Suthanthiran was a weekly published as a mouthpiece of Ilankal Tamil Arasuk Kadchi. Sudar was also published by them.

They promoted writing that kindled Tamil nationalism. But it had literary contributions too. Sudar means flame.

Aesthetic elements

There was Alai (Wave) which was devoted to the Arts. It included matters not only in literature but also on painting, Sinhala cinema and other arts.

It was an aesthetic journal. Writers, such as Uma Varatharajan and Ranjakumar Somapala were discovered.

It criticised the weaknesses in the progressive writers’ lack of sensibility towards aesthetic elements. It gave importance to column writing. Following somewhat on the lines of Alai was Puthis brought out by youngsters. People, such as Cheran, Avvai, Urvasi and others came to light. From the Hill Country came Theerthakarai, which was an important literary journal and fine short stories were published in it The Black July of 1983 resulted in the emigration of most important Sri Lankan Tamils. Feminism took shape. The sharpening of political and social consciousness among Hill County Tamils and Muslims were felt strongly.

From the 1990s, the day-to-day lives of Tamils and Muslims in the North and East became miserable owing to terrorism.

Internal displacement, living in refugee camps, the Tigers ruthless battle - all these led to the horrible suffocation of one section of Lankan citizenry.