Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 10 : 1 January 2010
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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Culture of the Tamil Society as Portrayed in Ponniyin Selvan

Prinkle Queensta. M., M.A., M.Phil. Candidate

Ponniyin Selvan, a Novel Exalted as an Epic

Embodied in the customs and practices of a society, culture demarcates the traditional values of a society from its neighbouring territory. Certain rituals in a society may be suis generis to a particular society. These customs and rituals are best exemplified in the Literature or any work of art of that region. Ponniyin Selvan, a novel exalted as an epic, reveals the culture of the Tamil society during the reign of Emperor Sundara Chozhar in the ninth century A.D.

History, Historical Novels and Reality

Historical novels are an important part of modern literature. When these are based only on raw facts of history and focus only on reporting such facts, they do not reach the level of sensibility that we demand and expect from good storytelling.

Sequence of major events reported may be strictly historical, but there are adequate and infinite ways to add on to such events by way of characters, plots and purpose. To bring alive the historical context in the mind of the reader is a very important demand that a historical fiction writer should achieve. There is hardly any permission to be anachronistic as such errors may not find favor with the readers. Mainly, readers come to expect some information that they already have about the past reflected in such novels. Characterization, ultimate purpose, particularly ultimate sacrifice, and inspiring and heart-moving love episodes, and so many other factors come to influence the success of historical fiction.

Indian historical fiction, in particular, has a very nostalgic twist as the writers and readers want to experience the glory of the past, to overcome and forget about the sad plight of our present day conditions!

Historical fiction in India, unfortunately, soon becomes equivalent to history under such circumstances. We tend to forget and ignore the past failures, and the failings of our characters. We are left with a Golden Age, and we do not wish to accept that this may be simply a creation and interpretation of a skillful writer.

Saying this, however, does not diminish the excellent knowledge of history Kalki, the creator of Ponniyin Selvan, demonstrates in the novel. Kalki's novel has become a classic, speaking and educating several generations since it began to be serialized several decades ago. Now the work is also available in translation in English.

Problems of Translating a Historical Fiction

In essence, translation of a novel is intended for those who are unable to read and enjoy it in the original language, or for those who think that they may enjoy the work in translation, because of their acquaintance with the language into which the work is translated. In both the cases, whether native Indian, Diaspora Indian, or simply a non-Indian reader, to cater to their needs and for greater enjoyment, novel's intricacy needs to be translated. However, it is not simply the culture-based emotional expressions, but also culture-based material civilization needs a sort of explanation easy to read, easy to comprehend, while retaining the idiomatic flavor. Almost an impossible task to achieve, indeed!

I read Ponniyin Selvan in its English translation. With some background in Tamil language and material history, and with some desire to know more about the history of Tamil people, I did enjoy the translation and could partake of the literary sensibility that Kalki wanted to convey to his readers.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Linguistic Purism and Language Planning in a Multilingual Context | The Problems of Teaching/Learning Tenses | Language and Literature: An Exposition - Papers Presented in Karunya University International Seminar | Similes in Meghduta - The Absolute Craftsmanship in Language | Culture of the Tamil Society as Portrayed in Ponniyin Selvan | Deconstructing Human Society: An Appreciation of Amitav Ghosh's Sea Of Poppies | Enabling Students to Interpret Literary Texts Independently by Enhancing their Vocabulary | Coping with the Problems of Mixed Ability Students | Displaced Diasporic Identities - A Case Study of Mordecai Richler's The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz | English Language Teaching in Developing Countries Error Analysis and Remedial Teaching Methods - An Overview | Diaspora Literature - A Hybrid or a Hybridized Product? | Anita Desai's Journey To Ithaca - A Manifestation of Vedantic Knowledge | A Study on the Physiological, Psychological and Spiritual Perspectives of Different Selves in a Self with Special Reference to Yann Martel's SELF | Conveniences and Complexities of Computer-Aided Language Learning | The Danger Lurking Within: The African American Woman in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye | Practices and Paradigms of Using Multimedia and Language Laboratory for Teaching Communication Skills to Technical Students | English: A Blessing in Disguise - A Study of Chinua Achebe's Technique of Hybridization | Language Teaching - The Present Day Challenges | Is Literature a Viable Medium for ESL Acquisition? | The Lord of The Rings : Galadriel, The Light Of Middle-Earth | Teaching Reading - A Challenge in Itself | The Silent Way | Translator as Reader: Phenomenology and Text Reception - An Investigation of Indulekha | The Dysfunctional Women in Mary Gordon'sThe Other Side | Utopia and Dystopia, Conflict Between Two Extremes - An Appraisal of Anita Desai's Cry, The Peacock | Reading 'god' Backwards | The Comic Vision in the Stories and Sketches of R.K.Narayan | My Responses to The English Teacher | 'Fall from Grace into Grief': Putting into Perspective the Outrages of Terrorism in Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown | Style and Language in M. G. Vassanji's The Assassin's Song | Affirmation of Life in Lloyd C. Douglas' Magnificent Obsession | Effectiveness of Group Investigation Model and Simulation Model in Teaching English | A Mathematical Treatment of Feministic Literature for the Prediction of Social Trends | Multiple Intelligences and Second Language Learning | Amitav Ghosh's The Circle Of Reason - A Study of Diaspora | The Role of Multimedia in Teaching Writing in English | A PRINT VERSION OF ALL THE PAPERS OF JANUARY 2010 ISSUE IN BOOK FORMAT | HOME PAGE of January 2010 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Prinkle Queensta. M. M.A., M.Phil. Candidate
Department of English
Nirmala College for Women
Coimbatore 641 018
Tamilnadu, India

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