Friday, 1 July 2022

Martin Wickramasinghe

Martin Wickramasinghe
Martin Wickramasinghe (1890-1976) was a Sri Lankan novelist, short-story writer, critic, essayist and editor. He is considered a pioneer writer of modern Sinhala literature.

Life events
Martin Wickramasinghe home
Wickramasinghe was born on 29 May 1890 in Koggala to a family of the village headman class in the Southern Province (Abhayasundere & Wijayarathna, 2022). His formal education at his village school lasted less than 5 years and at the age of fourteen, he was forced to leave Koggala for Colombo and Batticaloa in search of employment (Abhayasundere & Wijayarathna, 2022). His professional life as a writer started in 1920 at the Lake House group of newspapers where he became an editor of the daily Dinamina and the Sunday Silumina (Gunawardena, 2003).

Wickramasinghe's life as a novelist began with Leela in 1914 (Gunawardena, 2003). His trilogy of Gamperaliya (1944), Yuganthaya (1948) and Kali Yugaya (1957) depicted the impact of modernising influence on a southern coastal village (Gunawardena, 2003). The novel Viragaya which was regarded by many as the finest work of fiction in Sinhala was published in 1956 (Gunawardena, 2003). His work Gamperaliya was turned into a movie in 1963 by Lester James Pieris and it won several international awards including the Indian Golden Peacock award for the best film in 1964. 

Wickramasinghe Samadhi
Wickramasinghe was not only a master of Sinhala and English but Sanskrit and Pali languages as well (Abhayasundere & Wijayarathna, 2022). He has written 96 books and a large number of articles and papers on the culture and civilization of the Sinhala people over a period of more than 50 years (Abhayasundere & Wijayarathna, 2022). A number of his works have been translated and published in English, Hindi, Tamil, Russian, Chinese, Romanian, Dutch, German, French and Japanese languages (Abhayasundere & Wijayarathna, 2022; Senanayake, 2016).

Wickramasinghe passed away on 23 July 1976 at the age of 86.

Wickramasinghe has published 14 novels and 104 short stories in 8 collections in Sinhala (Gunawardena, 2003). His publication list also includes 40 books of non-fiction prose writing in Sinhala as well as in English covering a range of themes in Buddhism, art, literary criticism, philosophy, cultural anthropology and history (Gunawardena, 2003).

    1) Leela (1914)
    3) Irangani (1923)
    5) Miringu Diya (Mirage, 1925)
    7) Rohini (1929)
    9) Madol Doova (Mangrove island, 1947)
    11) Viragaya (Devoid of Passion, 1956)
    13) Karuwala Gedara (House of Shadows, 1963)
    2) Soma (1920)
    4) Seetha (1923)
    6) Unmada Citra (1929)
    8) Gamperaliya (The Uprooted/Changing Village, 1944)
    10) Yuganthaya (End of the Era, 1949)
    12) Kaliyugaya (Age of Destruction, 1957)
    14) Bhavatharanaya (Siddhartha's Quest, 1973)

Of the Novels, the Madol Doova was translated into Russian (1954), Bulgarian (1961), Chinese (1961), Romanian (1962), English (1968), Dutch (1979), Tamil (1993 and Japanese (2002) languages and made into a film in 1976 (Gunawardena, 2003). The novel Viragaya was also translated into English (The Way of the Lotus, 1985), Tamil (1992) and French (1995) and made into a film in 1987 (Gunawardena, 2003). Wickramasinghe's trilogy Gamperaliya, Kaliyugaya and Yuganthaya were published in the Russian language in 1975 while Gamperaliya was published in Tamil in 1964 (Gunawardena, 2003). The Gamperaliya, Kaliyugaya and Yuganthaya were made into films in 1963, 1981 and 1983 respectively (Gunawardena, 2003).

Short story collections
    1) Geheniyak (A woman, 1924)
    3) Pawkarayata Gal Geseema (Stonning the Sinner, 1936)
    5) Handa Sakki Kima (The Moon is Witness, 1945)
    7) Mage Kathawa (My Story, 1947)
    2) Magul Gedara (The Wedding, 1927)
    4) Apuru Muhuna (The Strange Face, 1944)
    6) Mara Yuddhaya (Mara's War, 1945)
    8) Vahallu (Bondage, 1951)

Several short story collections of Wickramasinghe have been published in the Russian (1958, 1970) and Chinese (1961) languages (Gunawardena, 2003).

    1) Chitra (1940)
    3) Vijitha (1952)
    2) Mayuri (1944)

Literary Criticism
    1) Shastriya Lekhana (Educational Essays,1919)
    3) Sahitya Shiksha 1 (Essays on Literature, 1936)
    5) Vichara Lipi (Literary Criticism, 1941)
    7) Sinhala Sahityaye Negima (Landmarks of Sinhala Literature, 1945)
    9) Kavya Vicharaya (Sinhala Poetry: A Critical Review, 1954)
    11) Bana Katha Sahitya (Buddhist Folk Literature, 1955)
    13) Rasavadaya Ha Bauddha Kavya (Aesthetics and Buddhist Poetry, 1961)
    15) Navakathanga Ha Viragaya (Literary Aspect of Viragaya, 1965)
    17) Sinhala Navakathava Ha Japan Kama Katha Sevanella (The Sinhala Novel in the Shadow of the Japanese Erotic Novel, 1969)
    19) Sampradaya Ha Vicharaya (Traditional and Criticism, 1971)
    2) Sinhala Sahitya Katha (Sinhala Literary Essays, 1932)
    4) Sahitya Shiksha 2 (1938)
    6) Guttila Gitaya I (Critical Review, 1943)
    8) Sahitya Kalava (Art of Literature, 1950)
    10) Atta Yutta (Essays in Literature, 1955)
    12) Nava Padya Sinhalaya (Modern Sinhala Poetry, 1957)
    14) Sinhala Vichara Maga (Sinhala Literary Criticism, 1964)
    16) Jataka Katha Vimasuma (Literary Aspects of Jataka Stories, 1968)
    18) Sinhala Natakaya Ha Sanda Kinduruwa (Sanda Kinduru and the Sinhala Drama, 1970)
    20) Vyavahara Bhashava Ha Parinama Dharmaya (Contemporary Sinhala and Its Evolution, 1997)

The book Sinhala Sahityaye Negima (Landmarks of Sinhala Literature) was published in English in 1948 (Gunawardena, 2003).
Evolution and Anthropology
    1) Satva Santatiya (Biological Evolution, 1934)
    3) Manava Vidyava Ha Bauddha Vignana Vadaya (Anthropology and Buddhist Idealism, 1974)
    2) Bhavakarma Vikashaya (An Unorthodox Interpretation of Buddhist Philosophy, 1967)

    1) Sinhala Lakuna (The Sinhalese Identity, 1947)
    3) Denuma Ha Dekuma (Knowledge and Reality, 1958)
    5) Bauddha Darshanaya Ha Margaya (Buddhist Philosophy and the Way, 1968)
    2) Budu Samaya Ha Samaja Darshanaya (Buddhism and Social Philosophy, 1948)
    4) Sinhala Sakaskada (Sociological Writings, 1962)
    6) Nivan Muhunuwara Ha Bamunu Dittiya (Face of Nirvana and Brahmin Dogma, 1972)

    1) Ape Gama (Our Village, 1940)
    2) Upanda Sita (From My Chilhood, 1961)

The Ape Gama was translated into English in 1958 by the name "Lay Bare the Roots" (Gunawardena, 2003).
    1) Chechov Ha Lankava (Chechov and Sri Lanka, 1970)
    3) Ape Viyath Parapura Ha Basha Samaja Parinamaya (The Role of Our Leaders in the Evolution of Our Language and Society, 2000)
    2) Ape Urumaya Ha Bhikshun Vahanse (The Contribution of Buddhist Monks to Our Cultural Heritage, 1998)

    1) Purana Sinhala Sthringe Enduma (Women's Attire in Ancient Lanka, 1935)
    2) Kalunika Sevima (Search for Our Past, 1950)

    1) Soviet Deshaye Negima (The Rise of the Soviet Union, 1962)

Books in English
    1) Aspects of Sinhalese Culture (1952)
    3) The Mysticism of H D Lawrence (1957)
    5) Revolution and Evolution (1971)
    7) Sinhala Language and Culture (1975)
    2) The Buddhist Jataka Stories and the Russian Novel (1952)
    4) Buddhism and Culture (1964)
    6) Buddhism and Art (1973)

Besides the movies, Wickramasinghe's three novels and a few short stories have been made into television series (Gunawardena, 2003).
    #) Leli (Daughter in law, 1989)
    #) Mamage Duwa (1992)
    #) Upasakamma (The Pious Woman, 1994)
    #) Mava (Mother, 1994)
    #) Karuwala Gedara (2008)
    #) Gamperaliya (1989)
    #) Madol Doova (1994)
    #) Mudiyanse Mama (Honourable Uncle, 1994)
    #) Sisiliyata Padamak (A Lesson for Ceciliya, 1994)
Wickramasinghe was bestowed several honours and awards for his contribution to modern Sinhala literature.

Martin Wickramasinghe
# Membership of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in person (1954)
# Best newspaper article (The fall of the Brahmin Class, 1956)
# Don Pedric Award for the best novel of the year (Viragaya, 1957)
# Honorary PhD by the Vidyodaya University (1960)
# Doctorate in Letters (DLitt) by the University of Ceylon (1963)
# UNESCO Award for his book "The Rise of the Soviet Land" (1964)
# DLitt by the Vidyalankara University (1964)
# DLitt by the University of Ceylon (1970)
# The first Presidential Award for Literature (1974)
Martin Wickramasinghe Trust
The Martin Wickramasinghe Trust was established in 1976 after the death of Wickramasinghe with the objectives of preservation of manuscripts, first editions of all books, tape recordings and photographs related to his life and work. Wickramasinghe's library which consisted of over 5,000 volumes in several languages was gifted to the government by the Trust and it is now available for reference in the Martin Wickramasinghe Hall of Literature at the National Library in Colombo (Gunawardena, 2003). Presently, Wickramasinghe's birthplace in Koggala is maintained as a Museum of Folk Culture by the Trust.

Martin Wickramasinghe
1) Abhayasundere, P.N. and Wijayarathna, W.K.M., 2022. Anthropological gleanings of the work of Martin Wickramasinghe. Vidyodaya Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences VJHSS (2021), Vol. 06 (02). pp.55-64
2) Gunawardena, C.A., 2003. Encyclopedia of Sri Lanka. Sterling Publishers Pvt Ltd. ISBN: 81-207-2536-0. pp.308-312.
3) Senanayake, C.J., 2016. Work and utopia in the fiction of Martin Wickramasinghe and James Goonewardene (Doctoral dissertation, Monash University). p.9.

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