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A Slice of Lived History

Udaya Kumar

Edited by K. Saradamoni
K. Saradamoni, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India, 2012, pp. 480, Rs. 450.00


What is the relationship between the public histories of societies and movements, and the personal stories of individuals who participated in them, shaped their direction, and witnessed their transformation? Is there an aspect of history which we can access only through tracking the trajectories of an individual’s thinking and action? These questions are particularly pertinent in the case of political movements that possess a strong ethical orientation. They insistently appear before us as we read this fascinating collection of N. Gopinathan Nair’s writings and reminiscences of his life and work by friends and family members, edited and published by his life partner and eminent social scientist K. Saradamoni. Gopinathan Nair is best known in Kerala as the founder editor of Janayugom, the official organ in Travancore of the undivided Communist Party. Gopinathan Nair left Janayugom and moved to Delhi in the early sixties, and withdrew from active political work around the time of the split in the Party. As a journalist and thinker, he continued to be a Communist, critical of the split in the movement and keeping alive dreams of future unity.   Elegant in appearance and rich in content, The Scribe Remembered is a book of homage and remembrance. It brings together Gopinathan Nair’s editorials written for Janayugom in the 1950s, his essays from later decades, obituaries and reminiscences from his former colleagues in the newspaper and in the movement, and the affectionate recollections of those close to him in his personal life. Through a range of writings in English and Malayalam, and photographs from diverse sources, the volume successfully conveys the texture of a life lived in a network of relationships, intimate and social.   The book is also an indirect commemoration of the founding of Janayugom. Gopinathan Nair, after his graduation from American College, Madurai, worked briefly with the Indian Express in Madras and the Eastern Express in Calcutta, before returning to Kerala and joining the Malayalam newspaper Prabhatam. Later, encouraged by the Communist Party leader M. N. Govindan Nair, Gopinathan Nair left Prabhatam to start Yuvakeralam which was soon banned on account of its radical political views and its opposition to C. P. Ramaswamy Iyer, the Diwan of Travancore. The ban prompted Gopinathan Nair and his colleagues to start yet another newspaper with help from the Communist Party, and that is how Janayugom was born as a political weekly in 1949. Its publication was interrupted ...

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