Prof M N Vijayan, who greatly influenced the contemporary Kerala culture as a radical thinker, literary critic, teacher and cultural commentator, died after collapsing at a press meet at the Press Club here today.

He was 77 and is survived by wife and two children.

Vijayan was rushed to the Amala Hospital here, where he was pronounced dead by doctors.

Vijayan broke a new ground in Malayalam literary criticism in 1950s by submusing yardsticks of Marxian social realism and Freudian psycho-analysis in the study of literary works.

He became a powerful presence in Malayalam literature at a young age by writing appreciations of the works of veteran poet Vyloppilli Sreedhara Menon.

By mid-1960s, Vijayan broke out of the label of a literary critic in the academic sense by directing his intellectual pursuit to a wider social, political and cultural sphere.

An astute scholar, he was largely instrumental in introducing and elucidating radical and humanist literary and philosophic works and modern approches to Malayalam readers.

In his later years, especially after retirement from teaching profession, Vijayan spent much of his creative energy as a frontline campaigner of leftist cultural positions.

For several years, he headed the pro-CPI (M) cultural outfit Purogamna Kala Sahitya Sanghom before he fell out with the party leadership as part of his unrelenting struggle against neo-liberalist compromises.

Outlook // 03 October 2007