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Literary Cultures in History

Reconstructions from South Asia

Sheldon Pollock (Editor)

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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 traditions—including Hindi, Indian-English, Persian, Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Urdu—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)
Sheldon Pollock is William B. Ransford Professor of Sanskrit and South Asian Studies at Columbia University. His previous publications include The Ramayana of Valmiki, Volume III: Aranyakanda (1991) and Cosmopolitanism (2002, with Homi Bhabha et al.).
“The present collection is a major contribution to South Asian literary studies. For the expert and the generalist, this will remain a pathbreaking work.”—Chelva Kanaganayakam Canadian Literature
“Essential...A stunningly realized achievement.”—T. Carolan Choice: Current Reviews For Academic Libraries
“The result is an interesting assortment of essays that exemplify the best in multidisciplinary scholarship. An impressive blend of disciplines, approaches, and opinions informs this collection.”—Robert D. King Libraries & Culture
“This collective effort has laid down a mark for future commentators on South Asia’s many literatures--a stunning historical achievement.”—John Oliver Perry World Literature Today
"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."—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."—Walter D. Mignolo, author of Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges and Border Thinking

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, Choice Magazine, a publication of the Association of College & Research Librarie

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