(Last Updated on : 29-01-2013)
Biography in Tamil literature
has gained momentous importance and popularity as a literary genre in the past 2 centuries. The biographical work of Vinotaraca Manjari, which was composed in the 19th century, provides a fascinating account about the renowned poets in Tamil literature
. But the work contains more fictionalized accounts than genuine facts. Some Tamil authors wrote excellent biographies without any fictitious material. The author constructed Va. Ra. wrote an excellent biography of the Tamil poet Paratiyar. U.V. Caminata Iyer
wrote an interesting biography about his Tamil mentor Mmatcicuntaram Pillai
. This work is now regarded as a part of Tamil literature because of its skilful handling of the theme and subject matter. Further more, Caminata Iyer's work provides a wealth of information about other Tamil authors and scholars, who were the contemporaries of Mmatcicuntaram Pillai.
Besides this monumental work, the renowned Tamil author Caminata Iyer also composed many other short biographies of celebrated personalities in different aspects of life. Caminata Carma was another Tamil scholar who wrote various remarkable biographies in Tamil language. Tamil scholars also composed biographies about international writers as well like Bernard Shaw, Lenin, Leo Tolstoy etc. K. Cantiracekaran and Marai Tirunavukkaracu wrote sharp and exciting biographies about their respective fathers.
Some Tamil authors like Patmanapan wrote intricate biographies in Tamil about the well known poet Paratiyar. Through the insightful and penetrating biographies entitled Kappalottiya Tamilan and Virapantiyak Kattapomman, M.P. Civananam portrayed the greatness and magnificence Citamparam Pillai and Kattapomman. Putumaippittan Varalaru, written by author Rakunatan (Raghunathan) provides an elaborate account of the father of Tamil short stories, Putumaippittan. Other works of biography in Tamil literature, such as Tamilttontar Viramamunivar were composed in a commendable manner. The hagiography about the Shaiva saints was written by Venkatacalam. Pammal Campanta Mudaliar
provided an excellent account about the Tamil scholars, authors and poets, who were mostly his contemporaries, in the biographical work of Yan Kanta Pulavarkal.
The autobiographies titled En Carittiram written by U.V. Caminata Iyer and Valkkaik Kurippukkal, by T. V. Kaliyanacuntarar
(T. V. Kalyanasundarar), are considered as masterworks in the art of writing autobiographies in Tamil literature. Although the autobiography of Caminata Iyer was incomplete with 122 chapters, still it is regarded as an outstanding work. T.V. Kaliyanacuntarar's autobiography Valkkaik Kurippukkal is created in the form of an encyclopaedia that provides information about other scholars who are in different fields, great savants and even about a few ordinary workers and political leaders as well. The Tamil poet Namakkal Ramalinkam Pillai had also composed his autobiography.
The composition of an autobiography is, in actuality, a very interesting and creative art. Even though there are only a handful of autobiographies in Tamil literature, but these few works are exceptional and brilliant examples for new writers to adopt and follow.