K. M. George
|Dr. K. M. George|
Dr. K. M. George at his home in Thiruvananthapuram
20 April 1914|
|Died||19 November 2002
|Other names||Karimpumannil Mathai George|
|Occupation||Editor, writer, Literary critic, academic, Scholar.|
|Known for||Malayalam literature, Chief Editor of Malayalam Encyclopaedia|
|Notable work||A Survey of Malayalam Literature,
Western Influence on Malayalam Language & Literature,
Comparative Indian Literature,
Masterpieces of Indian Literature
Karimpumannil Mathai George, popularly known as Dr. K. M. George, is an eminent Malayalam writer and educator. An erudite scholar and literary critic with astute organisational capabilities, he is best known as a pioneer of Comparative Indian Studies and Literatures. For his monumental works – Comparative Indian Literature, Modern Indian Literature and Masterpieces of Indian Literature, that promoted national integration through literature in India, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2001, one of the highest national awards of India.
Early life and education
Born on 20 April 1914, K.M.George was the fourth among the five children born to Mathai and Mariamma at Edayaranmula, a small village in the Pathanamthitta district of the state of Kerala. His house was on the banks of the river Pamba, where boat races are held every year. When he was barely 10 years of age, his father died leaving the responsibility of bringing up the children to his mother. She had a huge influence on him. After schooling he was taken to Madras by his elder brother and admitted to the Madras Christian College for the Intermediate Course. Unfortunately due to the demise of his brother (who was employed in the Accountant General's Office in Madras) he could not undergo his graduation there. He later joined the Union Christian College, Aluva, and passed his B.A. Hons. in Mathematics securing 2nd rank. But for his post-graduation at the University College, Trivandrum his elective was Malayalam Literature. Even before he completed his course he managed to get a tutor's post in the Madras Christian College. While teaching there, he continued with his education and research. He was the first person to get a PhD in Malayalam from the Madras University. His thesis was on Ramacaritam and the Study of Early Malayalam.
Dr.George taught at the Madras Christian College for 15 years from 1940. He left the college in 1955 to join the newly founded Sahitya Akademi in New Delhi as Assistant Secretary. In 1960 he was sent as Secretary- in- charge, of the newly opened branch in Madras. In 1969 he retired from the Sahitya Akademi and joined the Malayalam Encyclopaedia in Trivandrum, Kerala, as its Chief Editor. On completion of his contract with the Malayalam Encyclopaedia, he took on the compilation and editing of the monumental volumes – Modern Indian Literature, Comparative Indian Literature and Masterpieces of Indian Literature. He has also worked as Visiting Professor at the Chicago University, USA, The East West Centre, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, and The Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, India. He was also the chairman of the Jnanpith advisory committee for Malayalam for several years.
Awards and recognition
These are some of the awards/recognition he received.
Dr.George was married to Aleyamma George in June 1944. They have a son, K.G.Mathew, an engineer working in California, USA, and a daughter, Valsa Mary Mathew, who was a manager with Syndicate Bank. He died on 19 November 2002 at the age of 88 and was buried in Trivandrum with State honours.
“Dr.K.M.George Award Trust" was formed in 1985 on his completion of 70 years of age (Sapthathi). The main aim was to promote research in Malayalam language and literature and give them due recognition. He also formed another trust named "Dr.K.M.George Education Trust". This was mainly to finance students, of economically backward families, to pursue their education. The PhD thesis 'Nayakasankalpam Malayala Novelil' by Dr. George Onakkoor won the first K.M. George Sapthathi Award for the best thesis produced in Indian Universities in Language, Literature and Culture during the period from 1980 to 1985.
Dr. K.M.George had donated 2500 books, out of his extensive library which included a number of priceless books, to the 'reference section' of the Kerala University Library during his lifetime. Later, another 2500 books were donated by his family to 'Dr.K.M.George Memorial Study and Research Centre' located in the Vailopilly Samskriti Bhavan in Trivandrum.
Manuscripts, important letters and articles written by Dr. George were acquired and added to the archives of The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi in October 2005.
His writings encompass various aspects in literature. He was a learned writer of articles in the media, father of the encyclopaedia in Kerala, editor of Indian literature, researcher of place names of Southern India, travel writer( having travelled the world over), dramatist, biographer, literary critic and auto biographer. Equally well versed in English and in Malayalam, he had a good knowledge of many Indian languages. He has published more than 50 works, translated some works to Malayalam and edited more than 10 great anthologies.
Dr. K.M. George's works
Books edited by Dr. K.M.George