I am delighted to present this Feature on Contemporary Kannada Literature to the readers of Muse India for two significant reasons: (1) Kannada formally acquired the classical language status in July 2011; (2) again in 2011, through the noted writer, Chandrashekar Kambar, Kannada literature secured the eighth Jnanpith Award, the most prestigious literary award in India. Both these recent developments affirm once again the vibrant literary and cultural ambience that has sustained Karnataka and its culture all these years.
In this feature, for sure you will find some of the best voices of Kannada literature: in Poetry, you will be happy to read the greatest poets of Kannada literature such as Bendre, Adiga, Lankesh, Ananthamurthy, A K Ramanujan, Chandrashekar Kambar, S Manjunath, Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy, K S Narasimhaswamy and others. These are major poets who have played a prominent role in silhouetting the contours of contemporary Kannada poetry. Thus, undoubtedly, the writers who have been represented in this Feature are the major voices of Kannada literature; however, what is noteworthy is the fact the writers who have represented these major writers are equally major voices of Kannada Literature. So, in a sense the represented writers and the writers who are representing the other writers together constitute what is called the contemporary Kannada literature that is read and appreciated today. Hence, it is a delightful experience to go through the special issue of Muse India as it features writings by some of the finest Kannada writers and translators such as K V Tirumalesh, Rahamat Tarikere, C N Ramachandran, Vanamala Vishwanath, Rowena Hill, Suchetana Swaroop, Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy, Basavaraj Naikar and O L Nagabhushana Swamy among others. For the first time, so many major Kannada writers have come together to offer to the readers of Muse India an authentic taste and flavour of Kannada literature.
I am extremely grateful to Professor Sheldon Pollock for his article, “Crisis in the Classics”; he was the first to respond to my request and bless me with an article that in a way sets the tone for the status and plight of literature in general and classical literature in particular. I am very much grateful to all my contributors for taking out some time and writing exclusively for the readers of Muse India.
It is indeed a rare honour to be known and recognised as a great poet; however, what is greater is just to be a great poet and be totally content with it. In Kannada, I am extremely fortunate and blessed to intimately know of at least one such poet. It is to that poet, let’s call him for convenience Ramu – we can call him by any other name though – that I lovingly dedicate this Muse India Feature on Kannada Literature.
Finally, I will be very happy if Muse India readers find reading this Feature on contemporary Kannada Literature a deep and delightful experience.