Literature Chapters in A Cultural History of India (1984)

This is a book edited by A. L. Basham. I have a Chinese translation, and so it is hard for me to type every literature works mentioned in these chapters. Below are just my high level summary, as related to a potential Indian literature canon list:


Chapter 14 "Classical Literature"

- Natyasastra is the beginning of a long tradition of literary criticism, which could be useful or appreciating classical literature

- Brahtkatha is only available in fragments now

- Asvaghosa's epics are the earliest mature work

- "Hala's" Saptasaki is classic of lyrical Prakrit (Maharashti) poetry, collected in 2th c. AD.

- Many Maharashti's works are mentioned (many related to Jainism) - suggest a tradition that should be considered in Indian literary canon

- Bhasa possibly greatest dramatists in India, main work is Vasavadatta

- Many classical works are rehash of Ramayana - suggesting its centrality

- Author thought Kalidasa's Meghasandesa is the most popular, but apparently didn't think Shakuntala deserves its fame

- Many works are mentioned in literary criticisms, but now lost

- Bana's recognized as most prominent Sanskrit prose writer; his Kadambari has inspired other works later in the tradition

- Sanskrit's literature is really vast beyond the "classical" period - of remaining Sanskrit literary works still extant, around 90% belongs to period after 1200 written in areas under Hindu rule


Chapter 21: Medeival Indian Literature

- Tamil works discussed same as Basham's 1954

- Many literary traditions of "modern" regional languages started from translations of Sanskrit Epics

- As with Razvi, also mentioned Jnanesvari as a key literary work in Marathi

- Talks about Tulsida (translater of Ramayana) as Hindi's greatest poet, also mentions Mirabai and Kabir as literary heritage of modern Hindi, which however appears in its modern standard form only in the 1st decade of the 19th century

- Religion is a really big theme in Indian literature  


Chapter 29: Modern Indian Literature

- Bengali literature rose to prominence early (early seat of East India Company), Tagore helps Bengali to mature in many genres

- Each modern language has its modern literary history - some earlier, some later

- Premchand (1880-1936) is a famous novelist in both Urdu and Hindi, and was considered key author by the Progressives

- Modern Indian literature influenced by both nationalist / independence movement and western ideologies / trends (e.g. Marxism, Freudianism)

- English also has a special role in Indian literature

- Poetry and novels are primary forms of modern literature, with novels the more popular genre. Drama was not very well-developed in modern times

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