Ananthamurthy, U. R. (1932–2014) By H., Nikhila
Udupi Rajagopalacharya Ananthamurthy is a major figure of the modernist literary movement in Kannada, a professor of English, a literary critic, and a leading public intellectual in Karnataka.
His interactions with socialists Ram Manohar Lohia, Jayaprakash Narayan, and Shantaveri Gopalagowda during his student days, and his close association in Mysore with Gopalakrishna Adiga and a group of writers who identified themselves with the Navya literary movement in Kannada became formative influences in his literary career. Ananthamurthy wrote his first published novel, Samskara (1965), in England where he had gone to pursue his PhD on a Commonwealth Fellowship. In Samskara, a death in a Brahmin agrahara gives rise to incisive scrutiny of the caste order and a journey of ruthless introspection for the protagonist, Praneshacharya. The novel, and the film version that followed in 1970, became controversial and were criticized for their peceived attack on the Brahminical order. Over the years, however, Samskara has achieved iconic status and has been widely discussed in academia, both in India and abroad. The novel has been translated into many Indian languages, as well as English, Russian, French, German, Hungarian, and Swedish.