Poet, translator, folklorist and writer, A.K. Ramanujan’s intellectual versatility is uncommon. Equally rare is the fact that most of his writings can satiate scholarly as well as general curiosity. AKR’s translations of folk tales, classical Tamil poems, medieval Kannada and Tamil Bhakti poetry and modern Kannada fiction, his own poetry and his essays on a range of literary themes offer a rich feast for any serious student of Indian culture. For speakers of Indian languages with dilemmas about writing in English, AKR’s views on writing and translation can offer much constructive advice.
A young Spanish tourist’s encounter with AKR’s poems in Benaras, a few months after the latter’s death in 1993, led to a long-drawn research. Based on doctoral work pursued at the universities of Kerala and Valladoid (Spain), Guillermo Rodriguez’s When Mirrors are Windows (WMW) strives to offer a synthetic account of AKR’s poetics, while being aware that such an effort will be challenged by “the language within a language” found in the poet’s “mosaic of ideas and reflections”.