Seshendra is not an individual but a movement. Excerpts from his letters entitled ‘In Defence of People & Poetry ‘carry his incisive views on the contemporary Indian scene of thought. The reader will find in these pages the multidimensional vision of the poet who has made a colossal impact on the intellectual scene of India.
He holds the view that ‘people & poetry ‘are defenceless in this country; both are exploited by all and sundry entirely for personal gains.
Thus arises the primary duty of the honest and the intellectual to rescue them and build once again their defences, resurrect living thought, and re-establish the genuine intellectual process of reason and enquiry. Only such of the excerpts from his letters are included in this volume which is relevant from this point of view. Names of those to whom these letters were addressed and passages of personal and private nature have been carefully removed. The material in this volume is of purely literary interest and concerns the topics of the present epoch.
This volume of letters reflect his thoughts on vital questions concerning the ‘people ‘and ‘poetry ‘he says ‘to rehabilitate poetry in this country , we have to first rehabilitate philosophy , the living contact with thought … man shattered to smithereens , must be reassembled by original hope to live again ‘-
References about Telugu poetry found in some of the letters are not a recent development in his thinking. As early as in April 1958 he addressed a letter to The Hindu with reference to J.B.S. Haldane on Telugu dated 27-04- 1958.
“With all these advantages it is surprising to see that not much of original literature is produced in Telugu so far since the beginning of its career in the 11th century….. Then if we turn to English, Urdu, Sanskrit and other languages we find many original productions… In the present period original works can be counted on fingers. The bulk of it represents only gross plagiarism. It is not able to cater in any useful manner either to the taste of the common man or the intellectual. Both sections are naturally turning to other languages for deriving the benefits of reading. I feel the Telugu writers should devote more time to thought than for writing.’
In an article called ‘Post Independence Literature “which appeared in Andhra Prabha, Telugu Daily, 1962 (Included in his collection of essays Oohalo, 1968) he comments bitterly on the lack of original thinking in Telugu Literature.
Contemplating on the vast map of India and its literature one realises broadly the truth that thought has not yet come out of the great confusion arising out of conflict of cultures, conflict of philosophies and a concussion of the old and the new. No vision has yet dawned on the horizon of the Indian mind. Seshendra’s ‘In Defence of People and Poetry -‘presents crystallised thought on different issues of the 20th century felt and experienced on the Indian soil.
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