news Monday, August 25, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute | August 22, 2014 | 6.55 pm IST Kannada writer U R Ananthamurthy will be given his last rites with full state honours on Saturday evening. The Jnanapith Award-winning novelist, critic and conscience-keeper died in Bangalore on Friday, after a prolonged illness that took a turn for the worse on Thursday night. Ananthamurthy, who was 81, had been battling kidney disease for several years and his health deteriorated around 10 days ago, resulting in hospitalisation. Although he was being treated by doctors at Manipal Hospital in Bangalore, his condition worsened on Thursday night, and he breathed his last after attempts at resuscitating him failed following a cardiac arrest. The state government declared Saturday a holiday, and the state will observe mourning for three days. His body will be kept in Ravindra Kalakshetra for public viewing, and will be later shifted to Kalagrama, a government-owned cultural space, for last rites. Widely acknowledged to be a literary giant in Kannada, Ananthamurthy wrote novels, short-stories and socio-cultural essays in a literary career spanning several decades. His works also include translations of German poet Bertolt Brecht.  One of the pioneers of the Navya movement, Udupi Rajagopala Acharya Ananthamurthy contributed greatly to Kannada literature. A recurring theme in his works was the conflicts between tradition and modernity. He was also a critic of Brahminical society. His novels include Bharatipura, about a western-educated man who returns to his village in India, and the suffocation that his temple town engulfs him in. Written in 1965 as a Ph.D. scholar at the University of Birmingham, the story Samskara is considered to be his most refined work and is a critique of Brahmin society.  His works also include collections of essays on social, political and cultural theme titled “Sadya Mathu Sashwata”, and “Betthale Puje Yake Kudadu”. He was a writer who did not just limit himself to the literary world, but also took political positions which in recent times were the subject of much discussion and also several police cases. After the Bharatiya Janata Party announced Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate, he stated that it would be difficult for a person like him to live in India. He received many hate comments by Modi’s supports asking him to leave. Days after the election results were announced, some of Modi’s supporters in the Namo Brigade and the Shimoga unit of the BJP even booked tickets for Ananthamurthy. Before the elections, he and some other writers had urged people to vote for Congress candidates during the Lok Sabha polls to ensure that the BJP did not win.  Another controversy broke out a few months ago when writer M M Kalburgi said in a public programme that Ananthamurthy had urinated on an idol as a child, in a bid to challenge his traditional childhood upbringing. He currently had four cases against him for something he did in childhood and wrote about 18 years ago.  When contacted, Ananthamurthy told The News Minute that he would respond only to the court, but said that he was "saddened" by the developments. Read: Case against Ananthamurthy, Kalburgi for allegedly offending religious sentiments
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