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A. Muthusivan

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இந்தப் பக்கத்தை தமிழில் வாசிக்க: ஆ. முத்துசிவன்

A. Muthusivan (November 15, 1910 - August 13, 1954) was a Tamil scholar, professor, poet, critic, translator, and orator. His important contributions were the introduction of Western literary theory of criticism, the study of poetry on the basis of literary taste, and the execution of critical studies as a movement. He was a Tamil teacher who was proficient in English and a modern thinker in his time.

Early Life, Education

Muthusivan was born on November 15, 1910, in Vikramasingapuram, Tirunelveli district, to Arumugam and Isakkiyamma. He finished his schooling in his hometown and studied Intermediate at Tirunelveli Hindu College, where he gained the acquaintance of Pudhumaipithan. He received his B.A. Honors (Tamil) from Annamalai University in 1935.

Personal Life

Muthusivan’s wife Krishnamma was from Nagercoil. The couple had four boys and four girls. He was the headmaster at Saraswati Vidyalaya school in Puducherry. He later became a lecturer at the Tirunelveli Hindu College. Persuaded by Alagappa Chettiar to join his college in Karaikudi, Muthusivan then took up the post as the head of its Tamil Department from 1940-54. He was lauded for his proficiency in the English language.

  • Srinivasa Raghavan
  • Pandithamani Kathiresan Chettiyar
  • Venkatasamy Nattar
  • Somasundara Bharathiyar

Literary life

Muthusivan produced 13 books between the years 1942 and 1954. His books of criticism include Asokavanam, Asalum Nagalum, Kavithaiyum Vazhkaiyum, Minnal Keetru Kavithai, and Amarakavi Bharathi. Madham Venduma? and Nataraja Thathuvam are philosophical texts. Nandikkalambakam and Kalingathuparani are critical commentaries with explanatory notes. The songs he recited at Kamban Kazhagam and All India Radio were not published. He translated Bharathiyar’s songs Kakkai Kuruvi, Pagaivanukku Arulvai, Achamillai, and Thedichoru Nidham Thindru to English.

In his memoirs, Professor N. Subbu Reddiyar writes about Muthusivan. "When I worked in Karaikudi, Professor Muthusivan was popular among literary enthusiasts and common people alike. He was from Nagercoil. After completing his intermediate education, he did not study further and worked as a teacher at Chittal Achi High School, Kandanur. Later he joined Annamalai University and received his B.A. (Honors) degree. With the blessings of S. Ganesan, he became a college professor…Professor Muthusivan was a good orator and sang well too. He was well acquainted with Rasikamani T.K.C, Kavimani Desika Vinayagam Pillai, T.M.C. Baskara Thondaiman, and Justice S. Maharasan. Justice S. Maharasan proposed to send him to the United States but the plan did not materialize. It wasn’t blessed by God’s grace." (Professor. N. Subbu Reddiyar Ninaivukkumizhigal. Internet Library)


Professor A. Muthusivan’s Asalum Nagalum can be considered the first book of Tamil literary criticism. His other books of criticism are Kavithai and Asokavanam. Muthusivan first used the word vimarsanam, which is synonymous with the English word criticism, in his 1944 book Asokavanam. He introduced the theories of literary criticism by Aristotle, A.C. Bradley, and M.H. Abrams, and studied the Tamil narrative epics (Kappiyam) under this light.


He lectured at universities in cities like Bombay, Poona, and Calcutta where he earned glory for his speeches in English. Eezha Kesari, a Sri Lankan magazine, published (1950) an editorial on his speech in Sri Lanka. The Colombo newspaper Suthanthiran published his entire speech. In his speech, he talked about the future of the Tamil language and the state of educational institutions.


Muthusivan was against the idea of literal translation. In an article, he mentioned that a translator must act with freedom. He translated some of the poems of Keats, Shelley Byrne, and Wordsworth into Tamil in Asiriyappa Virutham. They were not published.

Muthusivan was on the committee that compiled the glossary of Scientific terms in Tamil when Rajaji was the Chief Minister. Muthusivan was of the view that scientific terms could be used as they were, and that it was unnecessary to invent equivalent Tamil terms.

Literary view

  • Tamil as a language cannot function alone. Tamils must study other languages in order to accept the merging of languages.
  • Language does not merely include literature, but the whole culture. Hence other art forms like music, dance, painting, and sculpture should all be taken into account.
  • The field of comparative literature in Tamil is the need of the hour. The literary exchange will enrich Tamil.
  • It is true that there is no corruption in educational institutions (during 1950-54) but the fact that there is an internal motive in the preparation of the curriculum is in a sense corruption.

Such comments of Muthusivan caused a stir during his time.


Muthusivan had his own viewpoint about poetry. It agreed with T.K.C’s view but slightly differed in terms of criticism. His commentary on poetry is given predominantly in both Asokavanam and Kavithai.

  • Poetry removes the curtain of reality and helps reveal the beauty. One must appreciate the way the poem is written. To support his argument, he quotes books like Kambaramayanam and Nandhikalambagam. Muthusivan borrows the concepts of poetry from A.C. Bradley.
  • Muthusivan was fond of singing poems with music. His familiarity with Carnatic music encouraged him to sing Kamban’s verses with Raga and Tala.
  • Although his observations about poetry are based on the English critical tradition, he interprets them as expressing his own ideas.
  • He jokingly stated that there is a dearth of comic sense among Tamil poets. He wrote a long article on this.


Muthusivan was a Congress supporter from the beginning. When he came into contact with Sengalvarayan, his involvement with the party became intense. He sometimes went to class with a congressional hat on his head. Muthusivan openly criticized the literary taste of the Dravidar Kazhagam and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party speakers. He slammed Kambarasam heavily.


A. Muthusivan died of a heart attack on August 13, 1954 in Karaikudi at the age of forty-four.

Literary Significance

In his book on the history of Tamil literature, R. Srinivasan says that Muthusivan’s Asalum Nagalum can be considered a pioneer book in Modern Tamil literary criticism. A. Muthusivan is considered to be the pioneer who created the foundations of modern Tamil literary criticism and invented literary terminology.


  • Nandhikalambagam
  • Kalingathuparani
  • Asokavanam
  • Asalum Nagalum
  • Kavithaiyum Vazhkaiyum
  • Minnal Keetru Kavithai
  • Amarakavi Bharathi
  • Madham Venduma?
  • Nataraja Thathuvam


✅Finalised Page