(Last Updated on : 03/03/2012)
A.K Rananujan was called "Indo-Anglian harbingers of literary modernism". Several disciplinary areas are enriched with A.K.Ramanujan's aesthetic and theoretical contributions. His free thinking context and his individuality which he attributes to Euro-American culture gives rise to the "universal testaments of law". A classical kind of context-sensitive theme is also found in his cultural essays especially in his writings about Indian folklore and classic poetry. He worked for non-Sanskritic Indian literature and his popular work in sociolinguistics and literature unfolds his creativity in the most striking way. English Poetry most popularly knows him for his advance guard approach.
Early Life of A.K Rananujan
Attipat Krishnaswami Ramanujan was born in 1929 in Mysore
in the Indian state
. He was born to a Tamil family. He came to the U.S in 1959 where he remained until his death in July 13, 1993. He received his BA in English Literature and MA in literature from University of Mysore
. Then he teaches at several universities in South India. After receiving a graduate diploma in Theoretical linguistics from Deccan University in Poona in 1958 he went to Indiana University where he got Ph.D. in linguistics in 1963. In 1962, he became professor at the University of Chicago. He played an instrumental role in shaping the South Asian Studies program. He has worked in the departments of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, Linguistics and with the Committee on Social Thought. In 1976 he was awarded with 'Padma Sri' and in 1983 he won the MacArthur Prize Fellowship.
Career of A.K Rananujan
In his cultural essay "Is There an Indian Way of Thinking?" he established the notion "context-sensitive" as opposed to "context-free". These are the terms from linguistics. To him "context-sensitive" is an appropriate term of other's view and reaction towards inconsistency, hypocrisy, tolerance and mimicry of Indian tendency. In the context he cites the example of Said's Orientalism. "Context-free thinking" while gives rise to universal testaments of law such as in the Judeo-Christian tradition, 'context-sensitive' thinking on the other hand gives rise to more complicated sets of standards such as the laws of 'Manu'. For which accurateness has to depend on various factors particularly in factors of identity like birth, karma, dharma, occupation etc. It is a kind of rationale. He explains cultural ideologies and behavioural manifestations in terms of an Indian psychology.
"The Interior Landscape: Love Poems from a Classical Tamil Anthropology in 1967 and "Folktales from India, Oral Tales from Twenty Indian Languages are his noted work in Indian folklore studies. His theme "context-sensitive", also appears in his work on Indian Folklore and poetry. He explained the "inter-textual" nature of Indian Literature in "Three Hundred Ramayanas
" in 1991 and in "Where Mirrors Are Windows: Toward an Anthropology of Reflections" in 1989. By the word "inter-textual" he meant that Indian stories refer to one another and to other versions too. To him the oral and written traditions mutually influence each other.
His work in sociolinguistics opposes those who criticize Sanscritic Indology and who places a monolithic standard for Indian Languages. He also tried to legitimate the vast variety of linguistic dialects from India. He found dialects that are free from the influence of Sanskrit and are more innovative on existing phonologic and morphologic features.
A.K.Ramanujan wrote poetry mainly in English. His poetries are less common in transcultural poetry. Thems like hybridity and transculturation are being highlighted in some of his poems. He discussed the first poem "Astronomer" in his cultural essay "Is There an Indian Way of Thinking?"
As a translator he worked in the South Indian Languages mainly Kannada
. His translation work involves "Interior Landscapes: Love Poems from a Classical Tamil Anthology" in 1967, "Speaking of Siva" in 1973, "Hymns for the Drowning" in 1981 and "A Flowering Tree and Other Oral Tales from India".
Ramanujan was a national figure as well as he was a trans-disciplinary scholar. He wore many feathers as a playwright, folklorist, philologist, translator and poet. His works reveals that cultural tradition of India is a conflict between the colonial English identity, post-colonial ethnic identities and historical identities of the country. He was a master of his work a mixture of the complex languages is a concentrated composition in its extreme form.
Books Written by A.K.Ramanujan
Translations and studies of literature
* The Interior Landscape: Love Poems from a Classical Tamil Anthology, 1967
* Speaking of Siva, 1973
* The Literatures of India. Edited with Edwin Gerow. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974
* Hymns for the Drowning, 1981
* Poems of Love and War. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985
* Folktales from India, Oral Tales from Twenty Indian Languages, 1991
* "Is There an Indian Way of Thinking?" in India Through Hindu Categories, edited by McKim Marriot, 1990
* When God Is a Customer: Telugu Courtesan Songs by Ksetrayya and Others (with Velcheru Narayana Rao and David Shulman), 1994
* A Flowering Tree and Other Oral Tales from India, 1997
Poetry, Fiction and Drama
* The Striders. London: Oxford University Press, 1966
* Hokkulalli Huvilla, No Lotus in the Navel. Dharwar, 1969
* Relations. London, New York: Oxford University Press, 1971
* Selected Poems. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1976
* Samskara. (translation of U R Ananthamurthy's novel) Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1976
* Mattu Itara Padyagalu and Other Poems. Dharwar, 1977
* Second Sight. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986