LS Sheshagiri Rao passed away on Friday due to age-related illnesses. He was 94. He was popularly known as Professor LSS and was much beloved by critics and lay readers alike. He was born in Bangalore and received his MA from Nagpur University. He had a stellar academic career, publishing multiple works, and becoming a college lecturer at only 19.
LSS was best known for the Kannada-to-English dictionary that he compiled. It is still widely used by critics and translators. The dictionary was part of his larger effort to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western literary studies. Rao translated English classics into Kannada, including the works of Shakespeare, Kafka, and Goldsmith. In addition, he wrote several well-received critical commentaries on a wide variety of subjects, from Greek theatre to Modern Kannada prose.
LSS was also known as a writer of fiction, primarily short stories. “Idu Jeevana” (“This is Life”) and “Jangama Jathreyalli” (“In the Festival of the Jangamas”) are his two collections of Kannada short stories.
He was the recipient of multiple awards, most notably the Masti Award, the Kendra Sahitya Award, and the Rajyotsava Award. His passing had mourned by many, both within and outside the Kannada literary sphere. LSS, like Girish Karnad who passed earlier this year, was one of many who warned against linguistic jingoism. For many, his passing signals a subtle but troubling change in the Kannada literary scene.