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U.R. Ananthamurthy: The Man Who Raised the Prestige of his Time (1932 - 2014)

Purushotham Bilimale

Last week I was in Bengaluru, chatting with Dr. C.N. Ramachandran, a leading Kannada critic, about Ananthamurthy. He suddenly told me that whatever was said and written on Ananthamurthy, after his demise, were only partially true! I was surprised by his comments and taken aback a little, but CNR continued: ‘Somebody has written that he was a great writer, which is actually partially true, some think that he was a progressive thinker, which is also partially true, many believed that he was a public intellect—which is undoubtedly partially true,’ etc etc.  Is this 'partially true' that made URA so popular? There is no doubt that he was accepted by one and all during his lifetime. When he expired on 22 August 2014, the society in its totality mourned his demise. People across class, caste and religion—Swamijis of both Shivite and Vaishnavite sects in Karnataka, progressive dalit organizations, Left parties, Right parties, all arranged condolence meetings to mourn his passing away. All newspapers, whatever their ideology, published several articles on him. TV channels arranged special discussions on his writings and contribution to life and literature. The photos published in Facebook were amazing. I could see URA’s photos with writers, publishers, columnists, students, teachers, politicians ... and so on. This was an unending story. His writings, speeches, letters, interviews, and even his death made a remarkable impact on society. At least this is not partially true, Dr. Ramachandranji. He was a multi­faceted man, born on 21 December 1932, at Melige, a remote village in Tirthahalli Taluk, in Shimoga District of Karnataka State, Dr. Udupi Rajagopala Acharya Anantha Murthy had his early Sanskrit education in a traditional Pathashala. He completed his B.A. honours from Maharaja's College Mysore and Postgraduation in English from the University of Mysore in 1956. Later in 1966 he earned his Ph.D (English and Comparative Literature) from the University of Birmingham, U.K.  He began his career as a Lecturer in English in 1956 and continued till 1963. Later he joined as a Reader at the Regional College of Education, Mysore, and taught there till 1970. From 1970 to 80 he was a Reader in English at Mysore University. He was Visiting Professor at a number of foreign and Indian universities like the University of Iowa (1975), Tufts University (1978), Shivaji University, Kolhapur (1982), University of  Tubingen, Germany (1992), Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi (1993), University of Cornell (2000), University of Pennsylvania (2000), and University of Hyderabad (2001). He served as a Professor of ...

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