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Writer with many facets

SYED MUTHAHAR SAQAF

Vallikannan, who passed away in Chennai recently, was a critic, biographer, translator and writer.



Vallikannan.

Vallikannan, who passed away at Chennai recently, was a writer with rare talent, committed to a life of seclusion and hard work. Like a lone ranger, he entered into the new world of creative writing during the 1930s and continued to persevere for a name among the writers of the day.

A well-known critic, biographer, translator, the late Vallikannan wrote short stories, novels, poems, plays and screenplays for a record seven decades.

Hailing from the tiny hamlet of Rajavallipuram in Tirunelveli district, Vallikannan was initiated into the world of Gandhian writings when he associated himself with a journal by name, Kirama Oozhiyan to the disappointment of his family members who wanted him to settle down to a life of secure earnings. But like a modern Ulysses, there was a thirst within him that made him seek a name in the world of letters.

Stirred by creative energies and encouraged by youthful bravado, he left Rajavallipuram to the distant city of Chennai which he thought had in store for him a literary fortune.

Thereafter, he became a free man wedded to his studies and writings. When he turned towards writings, the works of stalwarts such as Kalki, Pudumaipithan, C.S.Chellappa and Mouni influenced him. He wrote for his living, and interacted with the writers of the days, but was never overawed by any of the ideologies. In fact, he chose to absorb the best in everything.

Committed to values

Vallikannan was a simple Gandhian, committed to the values of social good like a communist, and in articulation of his feelings and ideas, chose to experiment like a modernist. He tried his hands in every genre — fiction, short stories, new poetry, prose poem, and of course, non-fiction.

This comprehensive involvement needed good scholarship in the field. Hence he read intensively the writings of all modern writers including Russian and French. His translation of several pieces of world literature is a valuable contribution to Tamil literature.

Vallikannan accepted the distinctive and individual voice of writers, and hence was receptive to most of the divergent schools of his times. He was quite friendly with T.G.Sivasankaran (Thi.Ka.Si), Ki. Rajanarayanan, and T.M.C. Regunathan (Tho.Mu.Si) — the big names of Tirunelveli School — but he could keep intact his style and substance.

Perhaps this is the reason for his ready acceptance of many new talents who got encouraged by his forewords to their books.

Vallikannan's book on New Poetry in Tamil fetched him the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1978, and he was also recipient of many awards of the State and literary fora in Tamil Nadu.

The convener of the Sahitya Akademi Tamil Section and its Executive Board Member, R. Balachandran Bala said, "He was steadfast in encouraging young talent. He nurtured modern writers by guiding and motivating them. In these days when human values are at a discount, this veteran writer shines as an abiding role model for the youth of the country".

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