Beyond Desire: Sexuality in Modern Tamil Literature explores modern literary discourses of sexuality in the Tamil context from the early to the last decades of the twentieth century. Its twofold aim is to trace the shifting notions of the sexual and to complicate and unsettle normative structures of understanding the body, gender, and sexuality.
The work resists the equation of desire with sexual intercourse and explores the interpenetration of desire and other sensual modes of relating to the world that include spirituality, social reform, artistic creativity, and labor. Examining the representation of masculine desire in the works of authors like K.P. Rajagopalan, T. Janakiraman, Karichan Kunju, M.V. Venkatram, L.S. Ramamirutham, Dandapani Jeyakantan, and Tanjai Prakash, this work takes into account a spectrum of sensual intimacies that are irreducible to the sexual. It also traces a shift in articulations of desire from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries where desire is reformed and operates within the confines of arranged marriage, to a later scenario of desire where illicit desire becomes inseparable from its potential as a force that reconfigures and binds marginalized subjects.