What can be a better way to commemorate the 100th death anniversary of C. Subramania Bharati than to recall some of his works? The Coming Age by C. Subramania Bharati, edited by his great-granddaughter Mira T. Sundara Rajan and published by Penguin Random House India, gives a definitive account of Bharati’s important English writings.
C. Subramania Bharati (1882–1921) has an unrivalled reputation in twentieth-century Tamil literature and has come to be known as Mahakavi in Tamil, meaning ‘Supreme Poet’. His work as a poet and prose-writer ignited a renaissance in modern Tamil writing. Many were unaware of his writings that were published regularly in English. “This book gives a chance to read Bharati in another language in which he was fluent, English. Readers get a chance to read Bharati whether or not they know Tamil, and to see him from a fascinating new perspective. It's a chance to learn, not only about him, but about what the writers went through during British rule and how the British treated Indians on their own soil,” says Mira who is a writer, a classical pianist, and a scholar and professor. She holds a doctorate in law from Oxford University. A Canadian citizen by birth, she is fluent in English and French and has read both literature extensively. She is the daughter of Bharati scholar S. Vijaya Bharati, and a great-granddaughter of Mahakavi Bharati.
“I grew up hearing my mother singing Bharati's songs to me from the time I was born and before! She sang Bharati's songs as she learned them from her mother and grandmother, who learned them directly from Bharati himself,” recalls the author who says they are uniquely beautiful melodies composed by a musical and poetic genius. “Now that my mother has passed away, when I listen to recordings of her singing, I am instantly transported back to my childhood which was blessed with the beauty of this divine music," shares Mira. The book The Coming Age brings together Bharati’s important English writings in an authoritative and reliable edition presented by his great-granddaughter. The pieces in this volume reveal a well-informed and cosmopolitan writer, engaging with the world around him, passionately sharing his opinions. Exploring Indian history and culture, offering a shattering contemporary view of the colonial experience, commenting on political events, advocating for women’s rights and caste equality, and sharing his deep knowledge of the Tamil language and literary tradition, these pieces present Bharati in a new light for a new generation.
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