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KP Appan: End of an era in Malayalam literature.

Byline: PJJ Antony

An era in Malayalam literature has come to an end with the death of KP Appan. As a writer, he was unique in many respects. He refused to make public speeches, kept away from academies, shunned all sorts of awards, refused to appear on television and never traveled beyond his home district. But he remained at the center stage of Malayalam literature until his death from cancer a few days ago.

Hardcore Marxists would prefer to describe him as anti-Communist, as he considered individual rather than society to be the focal point of writing. However KP Appan remained apolitical and kept his distance from all political parties. Appan's concerns revolved around human dignity. He believed that man builds his inner self painfully while passing through experiences and making critical selections and decisions. He retained this belief throughout his life and it became the undercurrent of all his writing. Appan started his writing while Malayalam literature was slowly transiting from neo-classic socialist realism to modernism. New writings of OV Vijayan, M. Mukundan, Kakkanadan, etc, which focus on the alienation of the individual and related anguish was unsettling to conventional critics like Joseph Mundassery, Kuttikrishna Marar, etc. Their ageing literary sensibilities failed to take note of and evaluate the writings of younger generation leading to some sort of stagnation in literary criticism. KP Appan's entry into the Malayalam literary world at this juncture was like fresh air to a closed room.

Appan pointed out that the new generation writers are impatient with existing reality as they considered writing to be an attempt to create new realities.

Appan justified the liberal use of myths and metaphors by the new writers. Dreams, hallucinations, lunatic aberrations, nihilistic thoughts etc found its way into writing. Appan's literary genius set free the rebel in every writer who dared to question every tradition and conventions hitherto considered sacred and hence inviolable. His first book "kshobhikkunnavarude suvisesham" (Gospel of the Angry) opened a new vista in Malayalam literary criticism. Soon he became the messiah of new writing in Malayalam. Liberal values and existentialist philosophy as expounded by Immanuel Kant, Soren Kirkegord, Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, etc found its expression in Malayalam through the genius of KP Appan.

KP Appan's impact on Malayalam literature is manifold. Primarily it liberated writers from inhibitions and made them daring to explore and experiment. Appan's celebrated work "kalapavum viswasavum" (Rebellion and Faith) explained the rebellious nature of modern writers and introduced a new esthetics in literary criticism.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Dec 27, 2008
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