Literary criticism means the creative and practical evaluation of the internal and external features of a literary work. The Malayalam literature can also claim a rich legacy in this regard. Many scholars, eminent persons and experts have proved their mettle in this branch of literature.
Criticism in Malayalam initially took cue from Sanskrit literary criticism, but that did not last long. The influence of western and oriental ideologies and thought can be discerned in Malayalam criticism.
The leading light of Malayalam criticism was the magazine Vidhyavinodini and its editor C.P. Achutha Menon (1862-1937). During his tenure as editor (1890 – 1895), Achutha Menon evaluated many great works. That is why he is considered as the inventor of Malayalam criticism. Similarly, Valiya Koi Thampuran also contributed to Vidhyavinodhini. Persons like A. R. Raja Raja Varma, Sahithya Panchananan P. K. Narayana Pillai, Swadeshabhimani K. Ramakrishna Pillai, C. Anthappayi, Moorkothu Kumaran, Vidwan C. S. Nair, K.V.M., Chelanadu Achutha Menon, Sanjayan, Asan, Ulloor and Vallothol were scholars who made their mark in this field.
In the modern period, we have Kesari Balakrishnapillai, M. P. Paul, Kutti Krishna Marar, Joseph Mundassery, Kuttipuzha Krishana Pillai, K. N. Ezhuthachan, S. Guptan Nair, Sukumar Azhikode, N. Krishanapillai, M. P. Sankunni Nair, M. Leelavathi, A. P. P. Namboothiri, M. Achuthan, N. V. Krishna Warrier, M. S. Menon, M. Krishanan Nair, M. K. Sanu, Shoorandu Kunjan Pillai, Kainikkara Kumara Pillai, K. Bhaskarn Nair, A. D. Hari Sarma, S. K. Nair, K. P. Narayana Pisharady, P. C. Vasudevan Elayath, Aatoor Krishna Pisharady, Vadakumkur Raja Rajavarma, Sardar K. M. Panikkar, I. C. Chacko, P. K. Balakrishnan, C. J. Thomas, P. Sankaran Nambiar, P. K. Narayana Pillai, P. K. Parameshwaran Nair, Kodapunna, K. S. Narayana Pillai, K. P. Sarat Chadran, P. V. Velayudan Pillai, K. Ayyappa Paniker, M. R. Chandrasekharan and others. Even today the Malayalam literary criticism holds forte and reflects its beauty.