Prof. Dr. Shantinath Desai

Shantinath Desai (1929 - 1998) was one of India's most prominent modern writers and was a part of the important Navya movement, the influential innovative movement in Kannada literature after India attained independence. Before 1947, modern Indian literature was largely characterized by the patriotism of the independence struggle or by an escapism into romantic dreamworlds. After a relatively short phase of Marxist-inspired socially critical literature (pragativada) that began in the 1940s, Navya came into being: its main characteristics are its emphasis on the human individual and the inspiration by European models - especially existentialist philosophy and psychoanalysis.

Although Desai's mastery of English was excellent (and he translated the novel Bhava by his friend U.R. Anantha Murthy into English), he wrote all his own works in his South Indian mother tongue Kannada. His most important works, besides Vikshepa ("Perturbation", soon to appear in English translation in Manya Verlag), are his first novel, Mukti ("Liberation"), Bija ("The Seed"), and his posthumous novel Om Namo ("Obeisance To..."), which recently appeared in a filmed version by Girish Karnad on Indian television. Desai's oeuvre also includes short stories and essays.

Shantinath Desai was professor of English in the University of Kolhapur (Maharashtra), and later he became the first president of the newly founded Kuvempu University in Shimoga (Karnataka).

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