Synopses & Reviews
A grand synthesis of unprecedented scope, Literary Cultures in History
is the first comprehensive history of the rich literary traditions of South Asia. Together these traditions are unmatched in their combination of antiquity, continuity, and multicultural complexity, and are a unique resource for understanding the development of language and imagination over time. In this unparalleled volume, an international team of renowned scholars considers fifteen South Asian literary traditionsand#151;including Hindi, Indian-English, Persian, Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Urduand#151;in their full historical and cultural variety.
The volume is united by a twofold theoretical aim: to understand South Asia by looking at it through the lens of its literary cultures and to rethink the practice of literary history by incorporating non-Western categories and processes. The questions these seventeen essays ask are accordingly broad, ranging from the character of cosmopolitan and vernacular traditions to the impact of colonialism and independence, indigenous literary and aesthetic theory, and modes of performance. A sophisticated assimilation of perspectives from experts in anthropology, political science, history, literary studies, and religion, the book makes a landmark contribution to historical cultural studies and to literary theory in addition to the new perspectives it offers on what literature has meant in South Asia.
(Available in South Asia from Oxford University Press--India)
and#8220;The Language of the Gods . . . opens up a rich series of theoretical debates about language, modernity, culture, power and identity.and#8221;
"I Too Have Some Dreams comes alive, offering engaging insights. . . . Through A. Sean Pue's discussion of verbal choices . . . we come to understand a little more about [N.M. Rashed's] work."
I Too Have Some Dreams explores the work of N. M. Rashed, Urdu's renowned modernist poet, whose career spans the last years of British India and the early decades of postcolonial South Asia. A. Sean Pue argues that Rasheds poetry carved out a distinct role for literature in the maintenance of doubt, providing a platform for challenging the certainty of collective ideologies and opposing the evolving forms of empire and domination. This finely crafted study offers a timely contribution to global modernist studies and to modern South Asian literary history.
"A superb collection. This pathbreaking book is sure to have wide and lasting interest not only for students of South Asian literature, but for anyone interested in the role of literature in cultural self-definition, conflict and change."and#151;David Damrosch, President, American Comparative Literature Association and editor of The Longman Anthology British Literature
"This tour-de-force might be not only a landmark in Indian cultural history, but a major accomplishment in the scholarship of global cultures, inviting us to think critically about forms of history and communities of literature."and#151;Walter D. Mignolo, author of Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges and Border Thinking
In this work of impressive scholarship, Sheldon Pollock explores the remarkable rise and fall of Sanskrit, India's ancient language, as a vehicle of poetry and polity. He traces the two great moments of its transformation: the first around the beginning of the Common Era, when Sanskrit, long a sacred language, was reinvented as a code for literary and political expression, the start of an amazing career that saw Sanskrit literary culture spread from Afghanistan to Java. The second moment occurred around the beginning of the second millennium, when local speech forms challenged and eventually replaced Sanskrit in both the literary and political arenas. Drawing striking parallels, chronologically as well as structurally, with the rise of Latin literature and the Roman empire, and with the new vernacular literatures and nation-states of late-medieval Europe, The Language of the Gods in the World of Men asks whether these very different histories challenge current theories of culture and power and suggest new possibilities for practice.
"The scholarship exhibited here is not only superior; it is in many ways staggering. The author's control of an astonishing range of primary and secondary texts from many languages, eras, and disciplines is awe-inspiring. This is a learned, original, and important work."and#151;Robert Goldman, Sanskrit and India Studies, University of California, Berkeley
About the Author
Sheldon Pollock is William B. Ransford Professor of Sanskrit and South Asian Studies at Columbia University, and former George V. Bobrinskoy Distinguished Service Professor at The University of Chicago. His previous publications include Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia (California, 2003), Cosmopolitanism (2002, with Homi Bhabha et al.), and The Ramayana of Valmiki, Volume III: Aranyakanda (1991), and Volume II: Ayodhyakanda (1986).
Table of Contents
List of Maps
Preface and Acknowledgments
Culture, Power, (Pre)modernity
The Cosmopolitan in Theory and Practice
The Vernacular in Theory and Practice
Theory, Metatheory, Practice, Metapractice
PART 1. THE SANSKRIT COSMOPOLIS
Chapter 1. The Language of the Gods Enters the World
1.1 Precosmopolitan Sanskrit: Monopolization and Ritualization
1.2 From Resistance to Appropriation
1.3. Expanding the Prestige Economy of Sanskrit
Chapter 2. Literature and the Cosmopolitan Language of Literature
2.1. From Liturgy to Literature
2.2. Literary Language as a Closed Set
2.3. The Final Theory of Literary