C S LAKSHMI
Tradition and Modernity of Tamil Women Writers
THIS ARTICLE does not attempt an exhaustive analysis of the work of all women writers in Tamil or of all facets of their expression. Only certain main trends are being dealt with. In order to understand what is written today it is essential to go back a little and examine the status and roles of Tamil women and the social moulding they have undergone. A few works generally representative of the mood of the period arc examined here, to identify the forces that have shaped the personality of the Tamil woman. I begin with a brief review of works like the Thirukkural and books of Vedanayagam Pillai and Thiru Vi Kalyanasundaram to bring out the general attitude adopted towards women in the early and recent times.
Tamil culture is given to categorization. Early Tamil literature divides life into agam (the interior) and puram (the exterior). Agam deals with domestic life while puram is concerned with external activities like war. Love life and marriage in turn go through two stages of kalavolukkam (clandestine love) and karpolukkam (secure married life). The personal feeling of love itself got classified into two kinds, kaikilai and perundhinah one-sided love and love that has evoked response. Although the general social life of Tamils may not have been packed into such rigid compartments, these categories in literature are indicative of the self-imposed