Malayalam literature is a rich regional literature of India, developed into several literary stages. Malayalam language belongs to the Dravidian family of language. A good number of fiction and non-fiction is published each year. Over the centuries Malayalam literature developed into a unique tradition and root and said that it is free from bias of provincialism and parochial prejudices.
There are some non-Dravidian elements such as Sanskrit, Arabic, French, Portuguese and English in the Malayalam language. Kerala has been toured by the seafarers since ancient times and cosmopolitanism is a main feature and theme in Malyalam Literature.
Indigenous ballads and folk songs of Malayalam belong to an early time and recorded history of Malayalam literature dates to the 13th century. It is to be mentioned that Sanskrit and Tamil languages have great influence both in literature and language. Thunchath Ramanujan Ezhuthassan is said to be the father of Malayalam literature. Works of Ezhuthachan is a fine expression of Bhakti tradition in Malayalam. His Ramayana is widely read in Hindu homes in Kerala. The Portuguese introduced the first printing press in Kerala and in the second half of the 18th century Samkshepa Vedartham the first printing book was published by Clement Patiri. Herman Gundert, the German missionary as well Malayalam scholar par excellence, is always in the minds of Kerala people for his Malayalam-English dictionary, published in 1872.
The blooming period of Malayalam poetry is in 19th century in the courts of Swati Thirunal. Grammar works of Panini is also produced in this period. Some scholars said that A. R. Raja Raja Varma and his widely known poem, Malayala Vilasam marks the modern era of Malayalam poetry. But the golden age of Malayalam poetry centers on the famous trinity of Kumaran Asan, Ulloor S. Parameshwar Iyer and Vallathol Narayana Menon.
The contemporary theme and structure of Malayalam poetry is diverse and prolific, though some critics say, the vibrancy and free passion of the 70's isn’t found here. Some of the contemporary poets are O. N. V. Kurup, Ayyappa Panikkar, Kadamanitta Ramakrishnan, Madhavikutty, Sugatha Kumari, Kavalam Narayana Panikkar and Sachidananthan.
Prose Kundalata was the first Malayalam novel written by T. M. Appu Nedungadi published in 1887. The historic novel written by C. V. Raman Pillai, Chengalathu Kunhirama Menon and Sardar K. M. Panikkar keeps Kerala’s growth as a state. Thakazhi Sivasankaran Pillai, P. Keshavdev, Vaikom Mohammed Basheer, S. K. Pottekkat and P. C. KuttiKrishnan are the leaders of modernism in Malyalam literature. Some the present generation writers are O. V. Vijayan, M. T. Vasudevan Nair, M. Mukundan, C. V. Shriraman and Zachariah, to name a few.
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