Malayalam language has plenty of novels, short stories, poems, etc. Kundalatha/ kuntalata is the first novel in Malayalam. It is published in 1887 and written by old novelist Appu Nedungandi. A novel is a long work of fiction writers in the form of a book. There are several known novels in Malayalam, which are the gold leaf in the fictional world.
During the 19th century, the whole of India was under reformation. The impacts of British rule and the after-effects were present in between the people. So, Literature was used as a powerful tool to change. The writers including O. Chandu Menon were trying for a social revolution through literature. Menon was educated and also an employee of the British government.
MEANING OF ‘NOVEL’
There are two explanations exists about the origin of the word ‘Novel’.
- The word ‘Novel’ derives from the Italian word ‘ Novella’ which means ‘new’, ‘news’, or ‘short story of something new’.
- ‘Novel’ derives from the Latin word ‘Novella’, which is the singular noun form of the plural word ‘Novellus’. It means ‘new’.
INDULEKHA OR KUNDALATHA
Many of the people have confused about which is the first novel in Malayalam? It is because of that, earlier people considered the novel Indhulekha as the first novel. O. Chandu Menon is the author of this book. Indhulekha is published in 1889. So, it is clear that Kundalata, published 2 years ago is the first novel in Malayalam.
Indhulekha is a pioneering novel of the late 19th century. Also, many historical write-ups points out Indhulekha as the first novel in Malayalam. It is because, Indhulekha overlook Kundalatha, which consider as inferior work. The novel addresses issues of Nair women in traditional Kerala society. Indhulekha is a Nair woman who is educationally qualified under the western education system. She is a protagonist in this novel. So she wants to marry an educated Nair man, Madhavan. But her father didn’t allow for that. He decides to betroth her to an old aged wealthy Nair man Suri Namboodiri, who is poor educational qualification.
Appu Nedungadi is the author of Kundalatha, the first novel published in Malayalam. He was the founder of literary publications Kerala Patrika, Kerala Sanchari, and also Vidhya Vinodhini. Appu Nedungadi also contributes much to the Malayalam literature field. His mother is Kunjukkutti Kovilamma in Thalakkodimadathil, Puthiyaparambil, Mankavu, Kozhikode, and father is Manavikraman Thamburan from Samoothiri Kovilakam. Appu Nedungadi was also a well-known advocate. He was born on 11th October 1860. His father died when he was 13 years old. Also, he lost his mother the very next year itself. Appu Nedungadi is also the founder of,
- Nedungadi Bank, which is the first bank in South India
- Dairy industry in Malabar area
- Achuthan girl’s high school.
He died in 3rd November 1933.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Kunthalatha is a complete Malayalam novel. And it has published in October 1887 from Vidhyavilasam Press, Kozhikode. The writer also comments in the introductory part that ‘this novel is meant to be an entertaining novel for normal people’.
His writing style includes slogans and Sanskrit words in between the lines. In other words, the story is about the princess Kunthalatha. She is the daughter of King Kalinga Empire. Above all, the particular novel mentions the places Kalinga, and Kunthalam. But it is not related to the old empires with similar names.