The memoirs and lectures of A.N. Sattanathan, presented here in a fully annotated edition, with a critical introduction, constitute a key literary-historical document of the caste struggle. Sattanathan’s autobiographical fragment is a unique record of non-brahmin low-caste life in rural South India, where the presence of poverty and caste prejudice is the more powerful for being understated.
As the experience—sparsely and beautifully rendered—of the low-caste but not stereotypically ‘untouchable’ villager, it is, quite simply, revelatory, and will make an impact as such on the English-educated reader, to whom that experience has been so far unavailable.
In a complementary narrative, Sattanathan’s lectures—on ‘The Rise and Spread of the Non-Brahmin Movement’ as ‘the most outstanding event in South Indian History in the twentieth century’—offer a lucid summary of the cultural and historical conditions that find more personal and immediate expression in the memoirs.