Malayalam literature history

Kerala's literature history - An overview

As the language malayalam, kerala's literature also derived its existence from early tamil and sanskrit works. Some of the most important tamil classical works during the samgam period were pathittupattu, purananooru and chilappathikaram which had a very profound influence on the formation of malayalam literature. It is widely accepted that pathittupattu and puranannoru has contributions by poets from Kerala. Folk songs, tamil tradition of paatu and sanskrit tradition of manipravalam were beleived to have formed the origin of malayalam literature. In the 12th century Ramacaritam, Bhasha Kautaliyam, Attaprakaram, Kramadipika and Vaishikatantram appeared declaring the beginning of formal literary works in malayalam. This was followed by lilathilakam, which defined early grammatical rules for malayalam language.

Mr. Aravindakshan writes:
The history of Malayalam literature may broadly be divided into three periods. The first is a period of receding Tamil dominance and advancing Sanskrit influence. Elitist poets of the age were interested in introducing Sanskrit literary forms like Champu and Sandesa Kavya and in Sanskrit oriented linguistic and stylistic innovations. On the one hand, a shrinking into erotic themes and, on the other, an enlargement of the resources of language and style, could be seen. Next period witnessed the birth of sage-poets for whom poetry was a highly serious endeavour with a lofty moral purpose. They consolidated formal achievements of the former age and turned to the Puranas for noble themes. Malayalam poetry reached its pinnacle of glory in this age, evidently influenced by bhakti renaissance, and joined mainstream of the national literature. The third period is marked by the impact of liberal-democratic spirit which came in the wake of the first encounter with the west and spread of modern education. It is also to be noted that new radical ideologies started exerting influence on writers. We see the origin and development of the art of prose, spread of journalism, birth of modern forms such as fiction, drama, lyric and literary criticism. In these decades of unprecedented curiosity and enthusiasm the vision widens and creativity seeks new pastures. Prose takes precedence over verse and becomes the vehicle for both imaginative creation and intellectual exploration. We also find systematic studies of growth and structure of the language as well as of modern literary genres.

Related Links
An essay on the literary tradition of Kerala
An essay from www.keralahistory.ac.in

History of malayalam literature
Information on malayalam literature and history

Information on malayalam literature
Dept. of public relations, govt. of kerala website