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One may define literature as the collective writings of an era, a people or a language that has an intrinsic aesthetic quality that can stand the test of time and is made available for future generations.

The language of Kerala is called Malayalam and its phonetic origins are pre-historic, but the first recorded written work is dated back to the 13th century. The language and its grammar are highly developed and so its literature is rich in almost all of the systematic hierarchies and genres. Age after age the new experiences and ideas of the newer generations have layered themselves over the older writings and have created a perceptible timeline in the Malayalam literature. Its words have a certain poetic ring to them and the ancient legends live on in the Malayalam manuscripts as well as orally in the performing arts like Koodiattam Kathakali and Ottenthullal. The regional folk songs and stories have found their way in to the written literature along with different translations from other languages.

Thunchath Ezhuthachchan is widely hailed as The Father of Malayalam Literature with his Malayalam classics like the Bhagavatham, Ramayanam, Adhyathmaramayanamand and so on, which are read even today. His unique poetic style came to be known as the 'Kilippattu'. The three literary giants of the Malayalam language - Ezhuthachan, Kunjan Nambiyar and Cherussery, who are poetic geniuses, have been collectively termed as the ‘Mahakavitrayam’ or the ‘Great Poetic Trio’ of the old. Their works and methods remain unbeaten even today and are considered to be the cornerstones for the linguistic development of Malayalam.

The prominent kings and rulers of the erstwhile princely state of Kerala were great connoisseurs of the arts and cultures that lead to the proper nurturing of poets and writers from the medieval to the modern periods. Of the new period the lullabies of Irayimman Thampi like ‘Omana thinkal kidavo‘ is  considered to be a masterpiece. Critics have claimed that the poets - Vallathol Narayana Menon, S. Parameswara Iyer and N.Kumaranaasan as the Mahakavitrayam (Great Poetic Trio) of the modern Malayalam Literature because of their rejuvenating and impeccable additions. G Shankarakkurup was awarded the first Gyanpith Award, which is the highest honor given by the Government of India for literary achievements and other Malayalam authors like S. K. Pottekkad, M.T. Vasudevan Nair and Thakazhi later followed his suite.

The arrival of the European colonists on the Kerala shores brought with it western languages and influences. This period witnessed vigorous stylistic and from changes to the existing Malayalam literature. In the middle of the 19th century the first printing press (Herman Gundert and Benjamin Bailey) in India was started Kottayam, Kerala by the Christian missionaries.

With the most forward society producing a plethora of poets, novelists, writers and authors the Malayalam is spearheading the modern literary development in India. The modern poets that carry on the tradition in excellence include names like Vayalar Rama Varma, Changumpuzha Krishnapilla, N.V Krishan Warrier, Vyiloppilly Sridhara Menon, and O.N.V. Kurup. The modern experts of the verbose would include Vaikom Muhammad Bashir, Thakazhi Sivashankara Pillai, Kesavadev, Ponkunnam Varkey, S.K. Pottakkad and O.V Vijayan, not forgetting the playwrights T.N Gopinathan Nair and E.V. Krishna Pillai. In the end the modern critics like Kuttikrisha Marar, S. Guptan Nair and Joseph Mundassery have all shouldered the wheel of Malayalam Literature.

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