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Stages of Tamil literature



ID: <10670/1.t3d52d>


The vocabulary has of course undergone variations but ancient works are still accessible to present day learned Tamilians. The first written works are lost for ever. What has been transmitted to us consists of an elaborate grammar, eight anthologies and ten long poems belonging to the first centuries before the Christian era. They have got a great documentary value by the picture of life at that time they give and by the details on the external relations of the Tamil land with Mediterranean countries. Their literary interest is no less important, because they reveal an already consummate art. The characteristic of that literature is its thematic division into agam works relating to love and puram works relating to all the rest. This literature developed itself according to its own spirit and gained in amplitude and diversity. For about five centuries the main preoccupation was ethics followed by mystical yearning in the course of the next five centuries. From the 10th century Tamil literature gets enriched by several external influences, first the influence of Sanscrit, then that of Islam followed by that of Christianism. In the course of the 18th century English literature penetrates massively et gives birth to works of European model. Throughout this evolution the essentials of the tradition remained intact; From the 20th century, written Tamil literature caters for the common man. The agam is replaced by the puram as the main theme. This literature of two millennia bears the stamp of its universal aspirations, its specific literary genres, its expression to all faiths of the world and its openness to all kinds of thought.

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