O. Chandu Menon

O. Chandu Menon

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Category: Literature

O. Chandu Menon Profile

  • Name:
  • O. Chandu Menon
  • Born / Home Town:
  • Kochi

O. Chandu Menon Biography

Oyyarathu Chandumenon, popularly known as O. Chandu Menon is credited as the first novelist of Malayalam. He is the writer of Indulekha – story telling the marriage systems that existed in Nair communities in ancient age. Though Kundalatha, written by Appu Nedungadi was published two years before Indulekha in 1887, Indulekha is regarded as the first Malayalam fictional work which met with all the requisite characteristics of a novel according to widely-accepted Malayalam literary convention. Indulekha was published in the year 1889.  Apart from Indulekha, he started writing Sarada, his second novel though he couldn’t complete it.


Oyyarathu Chandumenon was born on 9 January 1847. He got his English education at the school level. He began his career as a clerk in government post. During that time also, he improved himself in English learning and got appreciation from British officials. William Logan, author of the Malabar Manual appointed him as a clerk at Sub-Collector's office.  He was quite talented and got a series of promotions. Finally he became a Municiff and in 1892 became the sub-judge of Kozhikode. Then he started working on his second novel – Sarada, whose first part got published in 1892. Due to his unfortunate death he couldn’t complete Sarada. Later many writers attempted to complete the book by writing in their style. Yet it’s still regarded that no author has been able to complete ‘Sarada’ with perfectness. It shows the real talent of the first novelist of Malayalam literature.


In old Nambudiri families, only elder brother was allowed to marry a Brahmin girl while the rest make ‘Sambandams’ with Nair ladies. They did it so, so that traditional property won’t go outside the family. Children born from Nair ladies can’t claim father’s property. Through the novel Indulekha, Chandu Menon criticized the feudal system existed in the Hindu society that time and a clash of cultures between traditional past and well educated youth. Madhavan and Indulekha, the central characters of the novel are the symbols of new wave India while Suri Nambuthiripad represented the product of decayed feudalism that existed in the society then. Chandu menon was inspired by his wife to write this novel.


He was given the title of Rao Bahadur in 1898 for excellent service. He was a social reformer also. Chandumenon died on 7 September 1899.

Published: N/A

Updated: October 17, 2013

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