Synopses & Reviews
Two prominent translators present the first complete English-language edition of one of India's greatest works of classical literature: the Purananuru. This anthology of four hundred poems by more than 150 poets between the first and third centuries C.E. in old Tamil -- the literary language of ancient Tamilnadu -- was composed before Aryan influence had penetrated the south. It is thus a unique testament to pre-Aryan India.
Beyond its importance for understanding the development of South Asia's history, culture, religion, and linguistics, the Purananuru is a great work of literature, reflecting accurately and profoundly the life of southern India 2,000 years ago. One of the few works of classical India that confronts life without the insulation of a philosophical facade and that makes no basic assumptions about karma and the afterlife, the Purananuru has universal appeal. It faces the world as a great and unsolved mystery, delving into living and dying, despair, love, poverty, and the changing nature of existence.
To this hidden gem of world literature George L. Hart and Hank Heifetz add a helpful appendix, an annotated bibliography, and an excellent introduction describing the work and placing it in its social and historical context.
Two prominent translators present the first complete English-language edition of one of India's greatest works of classical literature: the "Purananuru," This anthology of four hundred poems by more than 150 poets between the first and third centuries C.E. delves into living and dying, despair, love, poverty, and the changing nature of existence.
THE FOUR HUNDRED POEMS that comprise the Purananuru embody a literary tradition unique in its origins and peculiar traits. One of the oldest Tamil works in existence, this anthology, compiled almost two thousand years ago, vividly depicts the public life of pre-Aryan southern India.
The two translators have rendered this South Asian literary treasure in vibrant English verse and supplied introductions to the work and its cultural context, as well as a guide to the poems' thematic content. Resembling no other examples of world literature so much as the Homeric epics in its freshness and directness of expression, the Purananuru includes powerful meditations on the core themes of a warrior society -- heroism, death, glory, and stoicism -- that speak not only to Tamils or to Indians, but to the entire human race.