Revered teacher, scholar extraordinaire, doyen of Shakespeare Studies in India, Professor S Viswanathan passed away at Chennai yesterday at 2 p.m. in the company of his daughter Gomathi and close family friends. He was 90. His wife Smt Nirmala Viswanathan had predeceased him.


Professor S Viswanathan


Professor Viswanathan taught English Literature to generations of students, first at the English Department of Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, and from the mid-seventies till 1993, at the English Department of the University of Hyderabad. I was fortunate to have been his student at Hyderabad from 1977 to 1979, and later his colleague in the same department from 1987 to 1993.

In a star-studded department at the University of Hyderabad, Professor Viswanathan stood out for his gentle, quiet, and unassuming nature, his scholarly lectures, outstanding publications, his deep knowledge of Shakespeare and 17th Century England. his sharp mind, critical intelligence, power of literary imagination and inclusive approach to the study of literature, He struck us as an extraordinary human being who had a noble view of life and literature, in that order.

S Viswanathan was the General Editor of the Orient Blackswan Drama Classics. He held fellowships at the University of Kent, Canterbury, U.K. (1974–75) and the Queen’s University of Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland (1984–85) and the UGC National Lecturer in English (1986–87).

Apart from about a hundred articles on Shakespeare and on a range of other literary topics in professional journals and collections in India and abroad, he published ‘The Shakespeare Play as Poem: A Critical Tradition in Perspective,’ (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980) and ‘On Shakespeare’s Dramaturgy,’ (New Delhi: Spantech Publishers, 1993); he co-edited ‘Shakespeare in India,’ (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987), and ‘Critical Essays in Honour of V S Seturaman,’ (Madras: Macmillan, 1987).

Professor Viswanathan would be remembered for his eminent scholarship, rare collegiality, and goodwill towards all. He was an English Professor in the classical sense whose legacy would be hard to match.

RIP Sir! Yours was a life well lived!

  • Sachidananda Mohanty
    Former Professor of English, University of Hyderabad
    Former Vice-Chancellor, Central University of Odisha