GUWAHATI, Dec 13 - The growth and development of modern Assamese literature dating back to the latter half of the 19th century with the American missionaries taking the lead to rescue the Assamese language from the clutches of the Bengali language was discussed at a function held at the Guwahati Press Club today.
The function was organised by Basona Sahitya Gosthi, a literary and cultural organisation, to mark the release of a poetry book titled Runu Devi Sarmar Nirbachita Kabita.
Releasing the book, senior journalist DN Chakravartty recollected the contributions of the American missionary writers like Eliza Whitney Brown and Harriet Cutter who played a splendid role in establishing the fact that the Assamese language was not a patois of the Bengali language but a rich language having its own distinct identity and having a treasure of literature dating back to the ninth century long before the Bengali language grew up as a developed language.
Chakravartty dwelt at length on the pioneer female writers from Assam, including Tarini Devi, daughter of Holiram Dhekial Phukan, Bishnupriya Devi, wife of Gunabhiram Barua, Padmawati Devi Phukanani, daughter of Anandaram Dhekial Phukan and Swarnalata Devi, daughter of Gunabhiram Barua, in the latter half of the 19th century.
Referring to the contributions of female writers in the growth and development of present-day Assamese literature, Chakravartty said while Mamoni Raisom Goswami and Dr Nirmalprabha Bardoloi were recognised as the stalwarts of modern writings by women in Assam, the contributions of Nalinibala Devi, Bhubaneswari Devi Baruani, Dharmeswari Devi Baruani and Jamuneswari Khataniar could not be overemphasised.
Referring to the romantic writings by Assamese women writers, Chakravartty mentioned the illustrious contributions of women romantic poets like Saradabala Das, Renu Mahanta, Tarulata Dutta and Dibyaprabha Bharali who were followed by illustrious writers like Dinabandhabi Suchibrata Roychoudhury, Alimunnisa Piyar and Sakina Khatun.
He added that in the domain of Assamese poetry, female writers had stolen a march over their male counterparts during the last 50 years.
Referring to the contributions of Runu Devi Sarma as a poet, Chakravartty said Sarma who started her writing career as a teenager had already published four books of poetry before composing the fifth volume released today.
�Her books of poem like Arunu Kiman Rati, Meghar Aaror Jon, Jonakot Jilika Bon and Meghar Gajonit Sotal Nitite, which were followed by the latest publication were important additions to Assamese poetry, and readers and critics will receive the book in its proper merit,� he said.
Journalist Diganta Kumar Nath, writer Ratneswar Basumatari, poet Devaprasad Talukdar, writer Dhiren Saikia and Devi Prasad Adhikary, secretary of Basona Sahitya Gosthi, also addressed the meeting.