Book Reviews

Ramanujachary: Modern Short Stories in Telugu

Modern Short Stories in Telugu, Dr. N C Ramanujachary, Prapti Books, Chennai, 600030,
Price Rs 150/- Paperback

This is novel, very new. The reader expects reading stories, that too in Telugu. Bur Dr. NC Ramanujachary springs a surprise on the reader, himself providing a blurb which is there above. The book is readable and illuminating. The book has twelve chapters – call them parts or chapters, as you please. All of them are useful in many ways.


A short story, a literary genre, is decidedly much more to all this. It has a structured art-form, well calculated presentation of words successfully bringing up an image; its eventuality is far superior to a marvellous photograph well framed. Dr Ramanujacharya has conceived the subject and impeccably built up the program. He looked at the entire gamut of short stories in the wide world. It is a lens within a narrow frame yet revealing a view of the society in which the reader lives. He mentioned well known writers and critics in India and the US also. Ms. Susan Hill, Poorna Chattopadhyay, Sir Victor Pritchett and’ H.E. Bates and Heinemann are cases in point.

“Everything must be sharply in focus, unambiguous though never unsubtle, crystal clear. Small wonder that although entries are usually many for all short story competitions which abound, a high percentage are dross; greater wonder that there are always the few outstanding stories; brilliant, assured, electrifying, from confident new voices, always surprise, talent is everywhere evident…. It would be conclusive how making a successful or eventful short story is nothing short of a tight rope dance or an effective deal with a double edge weapon. It must have readability and a good Short-story is best read at a stretch or in one go.” (p.3)

The author has taken pains to reveal that the canvas he has before him is very wide.

“A grain of sand, within it the potential, all-inclusiveness, of the cosmos. So also, a well written short story is miniature of human life and predicament. We have words and images, visual-moving towards the moment of fulfilment. That makes reading a piece thoroughly compelling and equally rewarding performance both to the reader and the writer.” (p.4)

He goes on explaining the width of the subject:

“Now, the question ‘why read or write’ gets transformed into a new paradigm such as why do humans live at all. This being the basic urge of any living organism, there need be no hesitation to answer.” (p.5)

He begins explaining the genre of modern short story carefully:

“The age of this genre in the world is reckoned as 200 years. In the Indian Languages, it is crossing its first centennial celebration. There are, of course, claims that it is of an age of a century and more, taking that the first ever piece in Bengali appeared in 1877 (Madhumati by Poornachandra Chattopadhyay). (p.7)

“Story is, by and large, the content of any literary work. Nowadays, even a newspaper item is termed ‘story’. Short-story is decidedly a prose work imbedding in it an incident, a touch of emotion, characters within and without-all going to make an interesting reading.“ (p.8)

He talks about the content and its wholeness…The ‘modernity’ of the ‘short-story’ makes the genre totally contemporary and sometimes even ‘futuristic’. (p.9)

As an art form it is a matter of feeling and experience. Modern short story has several facets. The author talks what the adepts spoke about the form:

The Modern Short Story has certain new aims exceeding the mere ‘entertainment supply-line’. On each reading a new and novel revelation of life opens before the reader. There will be no ‘sermonizing’, yet different viewpoints will be presented but not thrust. The author writes about the reading experience of this relatively modern art form.

“A short-story in its art from is nearly a lyric. The writers endeavour to make the piece highly enjoyable and readable, instils in the readers a courage to think of the presented modes iin contemporary living. The life is expressed, is portrayed well; also gently touched becomes the life, that is to be.” (p.10)

It is not about readability alone:

“Making a short-story readable is always different from shaping it as a good piece of writing. “Even in the crudest story of violent action, the reader demands a certain modicum of characterisation, a certain concern with psychological basis, a certain interest in moral content and general purposeful meaning…” (p.13) He goes into another aspect also, what he calls the real spinning matrix:

“The traces of a story in a Short-story will not make the genre age-old. Rightness of the Subject, weaving of the Plot, development towards a crisis or endpoint brings into existence the modernity. The spinning of the Matrix and the Mode of Expression are undoubtedly the results of Western influence. (p.15)

He comes to short story in Telugu, the central point of his work and we must think deeply about these aspects:

“The Telugu Short-story is a modality which emerged taking the western literary pattern as a model. This does not mean that the Telugu, or rather the Indian languages as a group, do not have their own earlier models.” (p.13)

“Common ground covered by the short-story writer is reconstruction of the society in the wake of problems deeply connected with ; Romantic sentiments (love stories): Education-Employment potential (career development): Marriages, happy and unhappy; Disturbed families, Raising of Children; Domestic harmony (Family stories, Economic inequalities ; Class/Caste distinctions (Social backdrop); Man and his profession; General matters of living ; Professional work systems ; Man-woman relationship (Individualistic, religio-social pattern).(p.24)


“Role of writers and their possible incidence upon the citizens and the systems of state are yet to be elaborated. This must gain acceptance. A socio-economic-politico vision and model must be drawn and presented to the citizen for his general acceptance. (p.28)

The writer’s conviction is that in the short in Telugu has its own place in societal history.

He starts with kathaanika and goes on from Kalipatnam Ramarao -1970 to B.S Ramulu.

Short story asks for an ear and heart of Understanding, the past and future of the human society. Material that is read generation after generation is available with us. A real Short-story never ages, it brings up the new realities into grasp.

1970 and in the decades to follow, writers like Sarva Sri Ravi Sastri, Kalipatan Ramarao, Kolakaluri Issac and Kesavareddy and a team following their trends had a rise in placing before the reading public the atrocities and anomalies that needed social justice. The social change that ensured the new industrial policy was put forth by writers like Turmmeti Raghottamreddy, Adepu Laxmipathy, Kaluva Mallaiah, B.S. Ramulu and others. The new equations drawn in human relationship, dismantling poorer and the poorest, had grounds in humanism existentialism and subtle distinction of realism.

“The Modern Short-story is to depict the sociological history of mankind in any given time and society. Life has many aspects and literature is the tool for its expression. It is the way of writing that counts most there is none as the right and the wrong. The literary piece is a dialogue between the writer and the reader the canvas being the society with its multifarious activities. Characters present themselves with their cheers and sorrows and desire the reader’s cursory look at them. (p.51)

He goes to uncollected short stories.

“Short-story is an internationally acclaimed literary form and is a recent one, it a span of one hundred and fifty years is considered short in the long history of human development. It is primarily written for a magazine and its currency therefore is very short.” (p.55)

“Gurajada Apparao was the first modern short story writer in Telugu, besides being a trend-setter for other literary genres. As in the pattern of O’Henry in America, can we not have annual awards/anthologies in his name. Palagummi Padmaraju wrote short stories in Telugu and brought laurels to this genre by securing a second prize in an international competition”. (p.61).

He goes next to penning a short story.

“Penning a Short-story must be, without an effort, and spontaneous. Yet to make it so, an effort is needed to start with. It comes with practice, as the adage puts it ; it is only the practice that makes one perfect. There can be simple rules to the art and craft of story writing and to deal with some of them is the purpose now.(p.63)

He goes to dramatization in short-story in Telugu:

“Gurajada Apparao, the pioneer for the Modern Short-story, takes the first place in the series.

His Samskarta Hridayam is story depicting the needs of social reform of the humanity at large and that of the reformer himself.” (73)

He goes on China Deekshitulu, Chinta Deekshitulu,, Vati Rao, Malladi Ramakrishna Sastri, Kodayatiganti Kutumba Rao ,Mullapudi Venkata Ramana, P.V. NARASIMHARAO, Bhaskarabhotla Krishna Rao, Gorusu Jagadeeswara Reddy, Koduri Sriramamurty Palagummi Padmaraju and himself - Srivirinchi (Dr.N.C.Ramanujachary) ,and Butchi Babu (Sivaraju Venkata Subbarao)

He takes up the question of author – publisher and asks if it is vanity or necessity and lists out the answers:

  1. “An author writes because of an “inner urge”
    The writing has necessarily to be conveyed or communicated to the targeted audience.
    A publisher is needed to bring out the work and present it to the public – the targeted audience, publisher here includes the editor, printer and binder.
    The well prepared and presented work, it now gets called a Book, is to be distributed among the public, the readers and the library. This is a distribution system that has its own network.” (p.70-71)
    After listing out the perspectives for research in Telugu short story in detail, he comes to pointers for future and further development

“Considering from any angle, Short Story remains to be a powerful instrument among all Modalities of Literature. A casual attitude towards this is neither helpful nor useful. A constantly serious and sincere look at this is appealingly essential. A property built Literary Criticism on this genre is a continuing need. Short Story is both wider and deeper for Research Scholar. This is true not only with reference to Telugu Language but essentially in respect of all Indian Languages, because ultimately each by itself is an India Short Story. The matter of Indianness in the different Language Stories constitutes a further base for still advanced and superior studies. (p/117)

The book is eminently worth buying too


More by :  Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B.

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