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America's Vietnam
The Longue Durée of U.S. Literature and Empire
Marguerite Nguyen
Temple University Press, 2018

America’s Vietnam challenges the prevailing genealogy of Vietnam’s emergence in the American imagination—one that presupposes the Vietnam War as the starting point of meaningful Vietnamese-U.S. political and cultural involvements. Examining literature from as early as the 1820s, Marguerite Nguyen takes a comparative, long historical approach to interpreting constructions of Vietnam in American literature. She analyzes works in various genres published in English and Vietnamese by Monique Truong and Michael Herr as well as lesser-known writers such as John White, Harry Hervey, and Võ Phiến. The book’s cross-cultural prism spans Paris, Saigon, New York, and multiple oceans, and its departure from Cold War frames reveals rich cross-period connections.

America’s Vietnam recounts a mostly unexamined story of Southeast Asia’s lasting and varied influence on U.S. aesthetic and political concerns. Tracking Vietnam’s transition from an emergent nation in the nineteenth century to a French colony to a Vietnamese-American war zone, Nguyen demonstrates that how authors represent Vietnam is deeply entwined with the United States’ shifting role in the world. As America’s longstanding presence in Vietnam evolves, the literature it generates significantly revises our perceptions of war, race, and empire over time.

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Anglophone Poetry in Colonial India, 1780–1913
A Critical Anthology
Mary Ellis Gibson
Ohio University Press, 2011

Anglophone Poetry in Colonial India, 1780–1913: A Critical Anthology makes accessible for the first time the entire range of poems written in English on the subcontinent from their beginnings in 1780 to the watershed moment in 1913 when Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize in Literature.Mary Ellis Gibson establishes accurate texts for such well-known poets as Toru Dutt and the early nineteenth-century poet Kasiprasad Ghosh. The anthology brings together poets who were in fact colleagues, competitors, and influences on each other. The historical scope of the anthology, beginning with the famous Orientalist Sir William Jones and the anonymous “Anna Maria” and ending with Indian poets publishing in fin-de-siècle London, will enable teachers and students to understand what brought Kipling early fame and why at the same time Tagore’s Gitanjali became a global phenomenon. Anglophone Poetry in Colonial India, 1780–1913 puts all parties to the poetic conversation back together and makes their work accessible to American audiences.With accurate and reliable texts, detailed notes on vocabulary, historical and cultural references, and biographical introductions to more than thirty poets, this collection significantly reshapes the understanding of English language literary culture in India. It allows scholars to experience the diversity of poetic forms created in this period and to understand the complex religious, cultural, political, and gendered divides that shaped them.

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Arranging Marriage
Conjugal Agency in the South Asian Diaspora
Marian Aguiar
University of Minnesota Press, 2018

The first critical analysis of contemporary arranged marriage among South Asians in a global context

Arranged marriage is an institution of global fascination—an object of curiosity, revulsion, outrage, and even envy. Marian Aguiar provides the first sustained analysis of arranged marriage as a transnational cultural phenomenon, revealing how its meaning has been continuously reinvented within the South Asian diaspora of Britain, the United States, and Canada. Aguiar identifies and analyzes representations of arranged marriage in an interdisciplinary set of texts—from literary fiction and Bollywood films, to digital and print media, to contemporary law and policy on forced marriage.

Aguiar interprets depictions of South Asian arranged marriage to show we are in a moment of conjugal globalization, identifying how narratives about arranged marriage bear upon questions of consent, agency, state power, and national belonging. Aguiar argues that these discourses illuminate deep divisions in the processes of globalization constructed on a fault line between individualist and collectivist agency and in the process, critiques neoliberal celebrations of “culture as choice” that attempt to bridge that separation. Aguiar advocates situating arranged marriage discourses within their social and material contexts so as to see past reductive notions of culture and grasp the global forces mediating increasingly polarized visions of agency.

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Black Avatar
and Other Essays
Amit Majmudar
Acre Books, 2023
The first nonfiction collection by internationally acclaimed writer and translator Amit Majmudar, Black Avatar combines elements of memoir, biography, history, and literary criticism.

The eight pieces in this deeply engaging volume reflect author Amit Majmudar’s comprehensive studies of American, European, and Indian traditions, as well as his experiences in both suburban Ohio and the western Indian state of Gujarat. The volume begins with the title piece, a fifteen-part examination of “How Colorism Came to India.” Tracing the evolution of India’s bias in favor of light skin, Majmudar reflects on the effects of colonialism, drawing upon sources ranging from early Sanskrit texts to contemporary film and television.

Other essays illuminate subjects both timely and timeless. “The Ramayana and the Birth of Poetry” discusses how suffering is portrayed in art and literature (“The spectrum of suffering: slapstick on one end, scripture on the other, with fiction and poetry . . . in the vastness between them”), while in “Five Famous Asian War Photographs”—a 2018 Best American Essays selection—Majmudar analyzes why these iconic images of atrocity have such emotional resonance. In “Nature/Worship,” another multi-part piece, the author turns his attention to climate change, linking notions of environmentalism to his ancestral tradition of finding divinity within the natural world, connections that form the basis of religious belief.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of these wide-ranging essays is the prose itself—learned yet lively, erudite yet accessible—nimbly revealing the workings of a wonderfully original mind.
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Bombay Modern
Arun Kolatkar and Bilingual Literary Culture
Anjali Nerlekar
Northwestern University Press, 2016
Anjali Nerlekar's Bombay Modern is a close reading of Arun Kolatkar's canonical poetic works that relocates the genre of poetry to the center of both Indian literary modernist studies and postcolonial Indian studies. Nerlekar shows how a bilingual, materialist reading of Kolatkar's texts uncovers a uniquely resistant sense of the "local" that defies the monolinguistic cultural pressures of the post-1960 years and straddles the boundaries of English and Marathi writing.

Bombay Modern uncovers an alternative and provincial modernism through poetry, a genre that is marginal to postcolonial studies, and through bilingual scholarship across English and Marathi texts, a methodology that is currently peripheral at best to both modernist studies and postcolonial literary criticism in India. Eschewing any attempt to define an overarching or universal modernism, Bombay Modern delimits its sphere of study to "Bombay" and to the "post-1960" (the sathottari period) in an attempt to examine at close range the specific way in which this poetry redeployed the regional, the national, and the international to create a very tangible yet transient local.
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Brahmanical Theories of the Gift
A Critical Edition and Annotated Translation of the Dānakānda of the Krtyakalpataru
David Brick
Harvard University Press
This volume constitutes the first critical edition and translation into any modern language of a dānanibandha, a classical Hindu legal digest devoted to the culturally and religiously important topic of gifting. Specifically, it is a critical edition—based upon all identifiable manuscripts—and complete, annotated translation of the Dānakānda (“Book on Gifting”), the fifth section of the encyclopedic Krtyakalpataru (c. 1114–1154) of Laksmīdhara and the earliest extant dānanibandha. David Brick has included an extensive historical introduction to the text and its subject matter.
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Chocolate and Other Writings on Male Homoeroticism
Pandey Bechan Sharma
Duke University Press, 2009
This volume makes available for the first time in English the work of a significant Indian nationalist author, Pandey Bechan Sharma, better known in India as “Ugra,” meaning “extreme.” His book Chocolate, a 1927 collection of eight stories, was the first work of Hindi fiction to focus on male same-sex relations, and its publication sparked India’s first public debates about homosexuality. Many prominent figures, including Gandhi, weighed in on the debates, which lasted into the 1950s. This edition, translated and with an introduction by Ruth Vanita, includes the full text of Chocolate along with an excerpt from Ugra’s novel Letters of Some Beautiful Ones (also published in 1927). In her introduction, Vanita situates Ugra and his writings in relation to Indian nationalist struggles and Hindi literary movements and feuds, and she analyzes the controversies that surrounded Chocolate. Those outraged by its titillating portrayal of homosexuality labeled the collection obscene. On the other side, although no one explicitly defended homosexuality in public, some justified Ugra’s work by arguing that it was the artist’s job to educate through provocation.

The stories depict male homoeroticism in quotidian situations: a man brings a lover to his disapproving friend’s house; a good-looking young man becomes the object of desire at his school. The love never ends well, but the depictions are not always unsympathetic. Although Ugra claimed that the stories were aimed at suppressing homosexuality by exposing it, Vanita highlights the ambivalence of his characterizations. Cosmopolitan, educated, and hedonistic, the Hindu and Muslim men he portrayed quote Hindi and Urdu poetry to express their love, and they justify same-sex desire by drawing on literature, philosophy, and world history. Vanita’s introduction includes anecdotal evidence that Chocolate was enthusiastically received by India’s homosexual communities.

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Comparative Studies in Greek and Indic Meter
Gregory Nagy
Harvard University Press, 1974
Reversing the generally accepted notions about formula and meter in epic poetry, Gregory Nagy seeks to show that meter is an outgrowth of formula. To make his point he links the Parry-Lord techniques of formulaic analysis with the researches of Meillet, Jakobson, and Watkins on Indo-European metrics. In the process he evolves a new theory about the origins of the Homeric hexameter and offers controversial fresh material for pursuing the problem of creativity versus tradition in the Greek lyric.
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Contradictory Indianness
Indenture, Creolization, and Literary Imaginary
Atreyee Phukan
Rutgers University Press, 2022
As Contradictory Indianness shows, a postcolonial Caribbean aesthetics that has from its inception privileged inclusivity, interraciality, and resistance against Old World colonial orders requires taking into account Indo-Caribbean writers and their reimagining of Indianness in the region. Whereas, for instance, forms of Indo-Caribbean cultural expression in music, cuisine, or religion are more readily accepted as creolizing (thus, Caribbeanizing) processes, an Indo-Caribbean literary imaginary has rarely been studied as such. Discussing the work of Ismith Khan, Harold Sonny Ladoo, Totaram Sanadhya, LalBihari Sharma, and Shani Mootoo, Contradictory Indianness maintains that the writers' engagement with the regional and transnational poetics of the Caribbean underscores symbolic bridges between cultural worlds conventionally set apart—the Africanized and Indianized—and distinguishes between cultural worlds assumed to be the same—indenture and South Asian Indianness. This book privileges Indo-Caribbean fiction as a creolizing literary imaginary to broaden its study beyond a narrow canon that has, inadvertently or not, enabled monolithic and unidimensional perceptions of Indian cultural identity and evolution in the Caribbean, and continued to impose a fragmentary and disconnected study of (post)indenture aesthetics within indenture’s own transnational cartography.
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Culinary Fictions
Food in South Asian Diasporic Culture
Anita Mannur
Temple University Press, 2009

For South Asians, food regularly plays a role in how issues of race, class, gender, ethnicity, and national identity are imagined as well as how notions of belonging are affirmed or resisted. Culinary Fictions provides food for thought as it considers the metaphors literature, film, and TV shows use to describe Indians abroad. When an immigrant mother in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake combines Rice Krispies, Planters peanuts, onions, salt, lemon juice, and green chili peppers to create a dish similar to one found on Calcutta sidewalks, it evokes not only the character’s Americanization, but also her nostalgia for India.

Food, Anita Mannur writes, is a central part of the cultural imagination of diasporic populations, and Culinary Fictions maps how it figures in various expressive forms. Mannur examines the cultural production from the Anglo-American reaches of the South Asian diaspora. Using texts from novels—Chitra Divakaruni’s Mistress of Spices and Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night—and cookbooks such as Madhur Jaffrey’s Invitation to Indian Cooking and Padma Lakshmi’s Easy Exotic, she illustrates how national identities are consolidated in culinary terms.

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Decentering Rushdie
Cosmopolitanism and the Indian Novel in English
Pranav Jani
The Ohio State University Press, 2010

Interrogating current theories of cosmopolitanism, nationalism, and aesthetics in Postcolonial Studies, Decentering Rushdie offers a new perspective on the Indian novel in English. Since Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children won the Booker Prize in 1981, its postmodern style and postnational politics have dominated discussions of postcolonial literature. As a result, the rich variety of narrative forms and perspectives on the nation that constitute the field have been obscured, if not erased altogether.

Reading a range of novels published between the 1950s and 1990s, including works by Nayantara Sahgal, Kamala Markandaya, Anita Desai, and Arundhati Roy, Decentering Rushdie suggests an alternative understanding of the genre in postcolonial India. Pranav Jani documents the broad shift from nation-oriented to postnationalist perspectives following the watershed crisis of the Emergency of the 1970s. Recovering the “namak-halaal cosmopolitanism” of early novels—a cosmopolitanism that is “true to its salt”—Decentering Rushdie also explains the rise and critical celebration of postnational cosmopolitanism.
 
Decentering Rushdie thus resituates contemporary literature within a nuanced history of Indian debates about cosmopolitanism and the national question. In the process, Jani articulates definitions of cosmopolitanism and nationalism that speak to the complex negotiation of language, culture, and representation in postcolonial South Asia.
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Document Raj
Writing and Scribes in Early Colonial South India
Bhavani Raman
University of Chicago Press, 2012
Historians of British colonial rule in India have noted both the place of military might and the imposition of new cultural categories in the making of Empire, but Bhavani Raman, in Document Raj, uncovers a lesser-known story of power: the power of bureaucracy. Drawing on extensive archival research in the files of the East India Company’s administrative offices in Madras, she tells the story of a bureaucracy gone awry in a fever of documentation practices that grew ever more abstract—and the power, both economic and cultural, this created.
 
In order to assert its legitimacy and value within the British Empire, the East India Company was diligent about record keeping. Raman shows, however, that the sheer volume of their document production allowed colonial managers to subtly but substantively manipulate records for their own ends, increasingly drawing the real and the recorded further apart. While this administrative sleight of hand increased the company’s reach and power within the Empire, it also bolstered profoundly new orientations to language, writing, memory, and pedagogy for the officers and Indian subordinates involved. Immersed in a subterranean world of delinquent scribes, translators, village accountants, and entrepreneurial fixers, Document Raj maps the shifting boundaries of the legible and illegible, the legal and illegitimate, that would usher India into the modern world.
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Dreams, Illusion, and Other Realities
Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty
University of Chicago Press, 1984
"Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty . . . weaves a brilliant analysis of the complex role of dreams and dreaming in Indian religion, philosophy, literature, and art. . . . In her creative hands, enchanting Indian myths and stories illuminate and are illuminated by authors as different as Aeschylus, Plato, Freud, Jung, Kurl Gödel, Thomas Kuhn, Borges, Picasso, Sir Ernst Gombrich, and many others. This richly suggestive book challenges many of our fundamental assumptions about ourselves and our world."—Mark C. Taylor, New York Times Book Review

"Dazzling analysis. . . . The book is firm and convincing once you appreciate its central point, which is that in traditional Hindu thought the dream isn't an accident or byway of experience, but rather the locus of epistemology. In its willful confusion of categories, its teasing readiness to blur the line between the imagined and the real, the dream actually embodies the whole problem of knowledge. . . . [O'Flaherty] wants to make your mental flesh creep, and she succeeds."—Mark Caldwell, Village Voice

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Educating Seeta
The Anglo-Indian Family Romance and the Poetics of Indirect Rule
Shuchi Kapila
The Ohio State University Press, 2010
Even though Edward Said’s Orientalism inspired several generations of scholars to study the English novel’s close involvement with colonialism, they have not considered how English novels themselves were radically altered by colonialism. In Educating Seeta, Shuchi Kapila argues that the paradoxes of indirect rule in British India were negotiated in “family romances” which encoded political struggle in the language of domestic and familial civility. A mixture of domestic ideology and liberal politics, these are Anglo-Indian romances, written by British colonials who lived in India during a period of indirect colonial rule. Instead of providing neat conclusions and smooth narratives, they become a record of the limits of liberal colonialism. They thus offer an important supplement to Victorian novels, extend the study of nineteenth-century domestic ideology, and offer a new perspective on colonial culture. Kapila demonstrates that popular writing about India and, by implication, other colonies is an important supplement to the high Victorian novel and indispensable to our understanding of nineteenth-century English literature and culture. Her nuanced study of British writing about indirect rule in India will reshape our understanding of Victorian domestic ideologies, class formation, and gender politics.
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Enlightened Individualism
Buddhism and Hinduism in American Literature from the Beats to the Present
Kyle Garton-Gundling
The Ohio State University Press, 2019
Buddhism and Hinduism have spread in the US largely through texts and are now recognizable facets of American literature and culture. But the US has defined itself through goal-oriented individualism, whereas Buddhism and Hinduism teach that individuality is a delusion and thus worldly desires are misguided. Given this apparent contradiction, what can Buddhist and Hindu influences offer American identities? Enlightened Individualism explores how post-1945 American writers, including Jack Kerouac, Alice Walker, and Maxine Hong Kingston, have tried to answer this question. Playing on enlightenment as both Anglo-American liberalism and Asian mysticism, this book argues that recent American literature seeks to reconcile seemingly incompatible liberal models of individual autonomy with Buddhist and Hindu ideals of transcending selfhood.
 
This “enlightened individualism” uses Buddhist and Hindu philosophy to reframe American freedom in terms of spiritual liberation, and it also reinterprets Asian teachings through Western traditions of political activism and countercultural provocation. Garton-Gundling argues that even though works by Kerouac, Walker, Kingston, and others wrestle with issues of exoticism and appropriation, their characters are also meaningfully challenged and changed by Asian faiths. These literary adaptations, then, can help Americans reenvision individualism in a more transcendent and cosmopolitan context.
 
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Everyday Reading
Middlebrow Magazines and Book Publishing in Post-Independence India
Aakriti Mandhwani
University of Massachusetts Press, 2024

During the two difficult decades immediately following the 1947 Indian Independence, a new, commercially successful print culture emerged that articulated alternatives to dominant national narratives. Through what Aakriti Mandhwani defines as middlebrow magazines—like Delhi Press’s Saritā—and the first paperbacks in Hindi—Hind Pocket Books—North Indian middle classes cultivated new reading practices that allowed them to reimagine what it meant to be a citizen. Rather than focusing on individual sacrifices and contributions to national growth, this new print culture promoted personal pleasure and other narratives that enabled readers to carve roles outside of official prescriptions of nationalism, austerity, and religion.

Utilizing a wealth of previously unexamined print culture materials, as well as paying careful attention to the production of commercial publishing companies and the reception of ordinary reading practices—particularly those of women—Everyday Reading offers fresh perspectives into book history, South Asian literary studies, and South Asian gender studies.

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Foucault and the Kamasutra
The Courtesan, the Dandy, and the Birth of Ars Erotica as Theater in India
Sanjay K. Gautam
University of Chicago Press, 2016
The Kamasutra is best known in the West for its scandalous celebration of unbridled sensuality. Yet, there is much, much more to it; embedded in the text is a vision of the city founded on art and aesthetic pleasure. In Foucault and the "Kamasutra", Sanjay K. Gautam lays out the nature and origin of this iconic Indian text and engages in the first serious reading of its relationship with Foucault.

Gautam shows how closely intertwined the history of erotics in Indian culture is with the history of theater-aesthetics grounded in the discourse of love, and Foucault provides the framework for opening up an intellectual horizon of Indian thought. To do this, Gautam looks to the history of three inglorious characters in classical India: the courtesan and her two closest male companions—her patron, the dandy consort; and her teacher and advisor, the dandy guru. Foucault’s distinction between erotic arts and the science of sexuality drives Gautam’s exploration of the courtesan as a symbol of both sexual-erotic and aesthetic pleasure. In the end, by entwining together Foucault’s works on the history of sexuality in the West and the classical Indian texts on eros, Gautam transforms our understanding of both, even as he opens up new ways of investigating erotics, aesthetics, gender relations, and subjectivity.
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The Foundation for Yoga Practitioners
The Buddhist Yogācārabhūmi Treatise and Its Adaptation in India, East Asia, and Tibet
Ulrich Timme Kragh
Harvard University Press
The Yogacarabhumi, a fourth-century Sanskrit treatise, is the largest Indian text on Buddhist meditation. Its enormous scope exhaustively encompasses all yoga instructions on the disciplines and contemplative exercises of sravaka, pratyekabuddha, and bodhisattva practitioners. The thoroughness of the text meant that the Yogacarabhumi became the fundamental source for later Buddhist writings on meditation across Asia. The present edited volume, conceived by Geumgang University in South Korea, brings together the scholarship of thirty-four leading Buddhist specialists on the Yogacarabhumi from across the globe. The essays elaborate the background and environment in which the Yogacarabhumi was composed and redacted, provide a detailed summary of the work, raise fundamental and critical issues about the text, and reveal its reception history in India, China, and Tibet. The volume also provides a thorough survey of contemporary Western and Asian scholarship on the Yogacarabhumi in particular and the Yogacara tradition more broadly. The Foundation for Yoga Practitioners aims not only to tie together the massive research on this text that has been carried out in Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Europe, and the United States up to now, but also to make this scholarship accessible to all students and scholars of Buddhism.
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Ghazals
Translations of Classic Urdu Poetry
Mir Taqi Mir
Harvard University Press, 2022

The finest ghazals of Mir Taqi Mir, the most accomplished of Urdu poets.

The prolific Mir Taqi Mir (1723–1810), widely regarded as the most accomplished poet in Urdu, composed his ghazals—a poetic form of rhyming couplets—in a distinctive Indian style arising from the Persian ghazal tradition. Here, the lover and beloved live in a world of extremes: the outsider is the hero, prosperity is poverty, and death would be preferable to the indifference of the beloved. Ghazals offers a comprehensive collection of Mir’s finest work, translated by a renowned expert on Urdu poetry.

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The Goindval Pothis
The Earliest Extant Source of the Sikh Canon
Gurinder S. Mann
Harvard University Press, 1996

This volume explores the earliest available version of the Sikh canon. The book contains the first critical description and partial edition of the Goindval Pothis, a set of proto-scriptural manuscripts prepared in the 1570s. The manuscripts also contain a number of hymns by non-Sikh saints, some of them not found elsewhere.

Through a meticulous analysis of the contents of these rare manuscripts, Gurinder Singh Mann establishes their place and importance in the history of Sikh canon formation.

The book will be of great interest to scholars of comparative canon studies and of medieval Indian literature.

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Graphic Migrations
Precarity and Gender in India and the Diaspora
Kavita Daiya
Temple University Press, 2020

In Graphic Migrations, Kavita Daiya provides a literary and cultural archive of refugee stories and experiences to respond to the question “What is created?” after decolonization and the 1947 Partition of India. She explores how stories of Partition migrations shape and influence the political and cultural imagination of secularism and contribute to gendered citizenship for South Asians in India and its diasporas.

Daiya analyzes modern literature, Bollywood films, Margaret Bourke-White’s photography, advertising, and print culture to show how they memorialize or erase refugee experiences. She also uses oral testimonies of Partition refugees from Hong Kong, South Asia, and North America to draw out the tensions of the nation-state, ethnic discrimination, and religious difference. Employing both Critical Refugee Studies and Feminist Postcolonial Studies frameworks, Daiya traces the cultural, affective, and political legacies of Partition migrations. 

The precarity generated by modern migration and expressed through public culture prompts a rethinking of how dominant media represents gendered migrants and refugees. Graphic Migrations demands that we redraw the boundaries of how we tell the story of modern world history and the intricately interwoven, intimate production of statelessness and citizenship across the world’s communities.

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Habib Tanvir and His Legacy in Theatre
A Centennial Reappraisal
Edited by Anjum Katyal and Javed Malick
Seagull Books, 2024
Essays exploring the lasting impact of Habib Tanvir's pioneering theatre which blended tradition with modernity in the post-Independence Indian theatre scene.
 
This collection of essays delves into the profound legacy of Habib Tanvir (1923–2009), a luminary in the post-Independence Indian theater scene. Tanvir's decades-long contributions as a director, poet, playwright, and actor are explored by a diverse group of scholars, practitioners, and peers. The book examines his pivotal role in founding the Naya Theatre in 1959, a pioneering group blending rural traditions with contemporary theatre, challenging conventional norms.
 
Against the backdrop of contemporary societal and political shifts, the essays reflect on Tanvir's fearless resistance against the right wing in his later years, particularly his challenges to religious dogma and caste discrimination in works like Ponga Pandit. The collection also emphasizes the enduring impact of Tanvir's seminal work, Charandas Chor, highlighting its adaptability across varied cultural landscapes.
 
With international contributors, the book expands beyond national borders, showcasing Tanvir's impact on global theatre and cross-cultural collaborations. The essays in this volume assert Tanvir's continued relevance, positioning his ideals as a guiding force for India amid evolving cultural and political landscapes.
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He Spoke of Love
Selected Poems from the Satsai
Biharilal
Harvard University Press, 2022

The seventeenth-century Hindi classic treasured for its subtle and beautiful portrayal of divine and erotic love’s pleasures and sorrows.

The seven hundred poems of the Hindi poet Biharilal’s Satsai weave amorous narratives of the god Krishna and the goddess Radha with archetypal hero and heroine motifs that bridge divine and worldly love. He Spoke of Love brims with romantic rivalries, clandestine trysts, and the bittersweet sorrow of separated lovers. This new translation presents four hundred couplets from the enduring seventeenth-century classic, showcasing the poet’s ingenuity and virtuosity.

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Heroic Kṛṣṇa
Friendship in Epic Mahābhārata
Kevin McGrath
Harvard University Press, 2013
Heroic Kṛṣṇa is a portrait of a pre-Hindu and pre-classical figure of a superhuman hero who in time became the divinity Krsna, an incarnation of Visnu. This is a picture, drawn from the epic Mahābhārata, of an archaic warrior who excelled as a charioteer; in fact this is the best depiction that we presently possess in any epic corpus of a charioteer type. Krsna is also described in his role of moral instructor, as poet and ambassador, and in the office of dual kingship with the dharmaraja Yudhisthira. There is no other representation of a complex friendship in the poem apart from what exists between Krsna and Arjuna, and this profound amity is completely founded on the activity of a charioteer and his hero. Cultural and poetic continuities from the Bronze Age Vedic world are shown to exist in this model of duality. Krsna is also an adept of the speech-act, for—apart from his charioteering—he accomplishes little in the epic except via the causality of speech: he is a master of “doing things with words.” This book illustrates a heroic life which pre-exists the divine status of one of the most popular Indian deities of today.
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The Idea of Indian Literature
Gender, Genre, and Comparative Method
Preetha Mani
Northwestern University Press, 2022
Winner of the 2023 Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for South Asian Studies

Indian literature is not a corpus of texts or literary concepts from India, argues Preetha Mani, but a provocation that seeks to resolve the relationship between language and literature, written in as well as against English. Examining canonical Hindi and Tamil short stories from the crucial decades surrounding decolonization, Mani contends that Indian literature must be understood as indeterminate, propositional, and reflective of changing dynamics between local, regional, national, and global readerships. In The Idea of Indian Literature, she explores the paradox that a single canon can be written in multiple languages, each with their own evolving relationships to one another and to English.
 
Hindi, representing national aspirations, and Tamil, epitomizing the secessionist propensities of the region, are conventionally viewed as poles of the multilingual continuum within Indian literature. Mani shows, however, that during the twentieth century, these literatures were coconstitutive of one another and of the idea of Indian literature itself. The writers discussed here—from short-story forefathers Premchand and Pudumaippittan to women trailblazers Mannu Bhandari and R. Chudamani—imagined a pan-Indian literature based on literary, rather than linguistic, norms, even as their aims were profoundly shaped by discussions of belonging unique to regional identity. Tracing representations of gender and the uses of genre in the shifting thematic and aesthetic practices of short vernacular prose writing, the book offers a view of the Indian literary landscape as itself a field for comparative literature.
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The Dhvanyaloka of Anandavardhana with the Locana of Abhinavagupta
Daniel H. H. Ingalls, Sr.
Harvard University Press

For nearly a thousand years the brilliant analysis of aesthetic experience set forth in the Locana of Abhinavagupta, India's founding literary critic, has dominated traditional Indian theory on poetics and aesthetics. The Locana, presented here in English translation for the first time, is a commentary on the ninth-century Dhvanyaloka of Anandavardhana, which is itself the pivotal work in the history of Indian poetics.

The Dhvanyaloka revolutionized Sanskrit literary theory by proposing that the main goal of good poetry is the evocation of a mood or "flavor" (rasa) and that this process can be explained only by recognizing a semantic power beyond denotation and metaphor, namely, the power of suggestion. On the basis of this analysis the Locana develops a theory of the psychology of aesthetic response.

This edition is the first to make the two most influential works of traditional Sanskrit literary and aesthetic theory fully accessible to readers who want to know more about Sanskrit literature. The editorial annotations furnish the most complete exposition available of the history and content of these works. In addition, the verses presented as examples by both authors (offered here in verse translation) form an anthology of some of the finest Sanskrit and Prakrit poetry.

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"Incantations" and Other Stories
An Important New Young Voice From India
Appachana, Anjana
Rutgers University Press, 1992
This first collection of fiction by Anjana Appachana provides stories that are beautifully written, the characters in them carefully and respectfully drawn. All the stories are set in India, but the people in them seem somehow displaced within their own society—a society in transition but a transition that does not come fast enough to help them. Appachana manages to capture the pervasive humor, poignancy, and self-delusion of the lives of the people she observes, but she does so without seeming to pass judgments on them. She focuses on unexpected moments, as if catching her characters off guard, lovingly exposing the fragile surfaces of respectability and convention that are so much a part of every society, but particularly strong in India, with its caste system, gender privileges, and omnipresent bureaucracies.

All life seems to be prescribed; these characters bravely or cautiously confront the rules and regulations or finally give in to them resignedly—any small triumphs they achieve are never clear-cut. One of the most unusual aspects of many of the stories is the way in which they are informed by but never ruled by the author's feminism. She never lectures her readers but lets us see for ourselves: a bride caught in a hopeless marriage where she has given up all rights to any life of her own, a hapless college student who is confined to campus for minor infractions just at the time when she had an appointment for an abortion, a young girl who keeps the dark secret of her sister's rape, a woman executive and a digruntled male clerk both trapped in the intricate bureaucracy of their business firm and the roles they must play to survive there. By turns warm, gullible, arrogant and bigoted, all of these characters live their lives amid contradictions and double standards, superstitions and impossible dreams. Appachana's vision is unique, her writing superb. Readers will thank her for allowing them to enter territory that is at once distant and exotic but also familiar and recognizable.
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India's Prisoner
A Biography of Edward John Thompson, 1886-1946
Mary Lago
University of Missouri Press, 2001

Edward John Thompson—novelist, poet, journalist, and historian of India—was a liberal advocate for Indian culture and political self-determination at a time when Indian affairs were of little general interest in England. As a friend of Nehru, Gandhi, and other Congress Party leaders, Thompson had contacts that many English officials did not have and did not know how to get. Thus, he was an excellent channel for interpreting India to England and England to India.

Thompson first went to India in 1910 as a Methodist missionary to teach English literature at Bankura Wesleyan College. It was there that he cultivated the literary circle of Rabindranath Tagore, as yet little known in England, and there Thompson learned of the political contradictions and deficiencies of India's educational system. His major conflict, personal and professional, was the lingering influence of Victorian Wesleyanism. In 1923, Thompson resigned and returned to teach at Oxford.

Interest in South Asia studies was minimal at Oxford, and Thompson turned increasingly to writing Indian history. That work, and his unique account of his experiences in the Mesopotamian campaign in World War I, supply a viewpoint found nowhere else, as well as personal views of literary figures such as Robert Graves and Robert Bridges. Thompson was also a major influence on the work of his son, E. P. Thompson, a modern historian of eighteenth-century England.

This important biography covers politically significant events between Thompson's arrival in India and up to his death, and casts considerable light on Thompson and his struggles with his religion and his relationship with India. The first biography of E. J. Thompson, "India's Prisoner" will have widespread appeal, especially to those interested in South Asian and English history, literature, and cultural history.

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Intimate Relations
Social Reform and the Late Nineteenth-Century South Asian Novel
Krupa Shandilya
Northwestern University Press, 2017
Intimate Relations remaps the discussion on gender and the nation in South Asia through a close study of the domestic novel as a literary genre and a tool for social reform. As a product of the intersection of literary and social reform movements, in the late nineteenth century the domestic novel became a site for literary innovation and also for rethinking women’s roles in society and politics. Krupa Shandilya focuses primarily on social reform movements that negotiated the intimate relations between men and women in Hindu and Muslim society, namely, the widow remarriage act in Bengal (1856) and the education of women promoted by the Aligarh movement (1858–1900). Both movements were invested in recovering woman as a “respectable” subject for the Hindu and Muslim nation, where respectability connoted asexual spirituality. While most South Asian literary scholarship has focused on a normative Hindu woman, Intimate Relations couples discussion of the representation of the widow in bhadralok (upper-caste, middle-class) society with that of the courtesan of sharif (upper-class, Muslim, feudal) society in Bengali and Urdu novels from the 1880s to the 1920s. By drawing together their disparate histories in the context of contemporaneous social reform movements, Shandilya reflects on the similarities of Hindu and Islamic constructions of the gendered nation.
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Islam Translated
Literature, Conversion, and the Arabic Cosmopolis of South and Southeast Asia
Ronit Ricci
University of Chicago Press, 2011
The spread of Islam eastward into South and Southeast Asia was one of the most significant cultural shifts in world history. As it expanded into these regions, Islam was received by cultures vastly different from those in the Middle East, incorporating them into a diverse global community that stretched from India to the Philippines.

In Islam Translated, Ronit Ricci uses the Book of One Thousand Questions—from its Arabic original to its adaptations into the Javanese, Malay, and Tamil languages between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries—as a means to consider connections that linked Muslims across divides of distance and culture. Examining the circulation of this Islamic text and its varied literary forms, Ricci explores how processes of literary translation and religious conversion were historically interconnected forms of globalization, mutually dependent, and creatively reformulated within societies making the transition to Islam.
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Jaya
Performance in Epic Mahābhārata
Kevin McGrath
Harvard University Press, 2011
Jaya is a study of how the four poets of the Indian epic Mahābhārata fuse their separate performances of the poem into a single and seamless work of art. The book examines in detail the different mnemonic forms engaged by this verbal activity focusing primarily on the distinction between what is seen and what is heard, as the poets stage and dramatize the four dimensions of their heroic song within one timely occasion. The subtle poetics of preliteracy and literacy which are compounded in one performance are demonstrated and made distinct in both a literary and a conceptual light. Jaya will be of interest to those who work in Sanskrit and Indian Studies, the Classics, Oral Traditions, Comparative Literature, and the traditions of archaic poetry.
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Late Colonial Sublime
Neo-Epics and the End of Romanticism
G. S. Sahota
Northwestern University Press, 2018
Taking cues from Walter Benjamin’s fragmentary writings on literary-historical method, Late Colonial Sublime reconstellates the dialectic of Enlightenment across a wide imperial geography, with special focus on the fashioning of neo-epics in Hindi and Urdu literary cultures in British India. Working through the limits of both Marxism and postcolonial critique, this book forges an innovative approach to the question of late romanticism and grounds categories such as the sublime within the dynamic of commodification. While G. S. Sahota takes canonical European critics such as Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer to the outskirts of empire, he reads Indian writers such as Muhammad Iqbal and Jayashankar Prasad in light of the expansion of instrumental rationality and the neotraditional critiques of the West it spurred at the onset of decolonization.

By bringing together distinct literary canons—both metropolitan and colonial, hegemonic and subaltern, Western and Eastern, all of which took shape upon the common realities of imperial capitalism—Late Colonial Sublime takes an original dialectical approach. It experiments with fragments, parallaxes, and constellational form to explore the aporias of modernity as well as the possible futures they may signal in our midst. A bold intervention into contemporary debates that synthesizes a wealth of sources, this book will interest readers and scholars in world literature, critical theory, postcolonial criticism, and South Asian studies.
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The Law Code of Viṣṇu
A Critical Edition and Annotated Translation of the Vaiṣṇava-Dharmaśāstra
Patrick Olivelle
Harvard University Press

The Law Code of Viṣṇu (Vaiṣṇava-Dharmaśāstra) is one of the latest of the ancient Indian legal texts composed around the seventh century CE in Kashmir. Both because the Vaiṣṇava-Dharmaśāstra is the only Dharmaśāstra that can be geographically located and because it introduces some interesting and new elements into the discussion of Dharmaśāstric topics, this is a document of interest both to scholars of Indian legal literature and to cultural historians of India, especially of Kashmir. The new elements include the first Dharmaśāstric evidence for a wife burning herself at her husband’s cremation and the intrusion of devotional religion (bhakti) into Dharmaśāstras.

This volume contains a critical edition of the Sanskrit text based on fifteen manuscripts, an annotated English translation, and an introduction evaluating its textual history, its connections to previous Dharmaśāstras, its date and provenance, its structure and content, and the use made of it by later medieval writers.

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Limiting Secularism
The Ethics of Coexistence in Indian Literature and Film
Priya Kumar
University of Minnesota Press, 2008

With a backdrop of religious violence and escalating regional tensions in South Asia, Priya Kumar’s Limiting Secularism probes the urgent topic of secularism and tolerance in Indian culture and life. Kumar explores Partition as the founding trauma of the Indian nation-state and traces the consequences of its marking off of “Indian” from “Pakistani” and the positioning of Indian Muslims as strangers within the nation.

Kumar unpacks the implications of the Nehruvian doctrine of tolerance-with all of its resonances of condescension and inequality-and asks whether more ethical cohabitation can replace the “arrogant compulsive tolerance” of the state and the majority. Informed by Jacques Derrida’s recent work on hospitality and living together, Kumar argues for the emergence of an “ethics of coexistence” in Indian fiction and film. Considering narratives ranging from the cosmopolitan English novels of Rushdie and Ghosh to literature in South Asian languages as well as recent Hindi cinema, Kumar demonstrates that these fictions are important resources for reimagining tolerance and coexistence.

Distinctive and timely in its investigation of secularism and communalism, Limiting Secularism works to envision the radical possibilities of going beyond tolerance to living well together.

Priya Kumar is associate professor of English at the University of Iowa. 

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More than Real
A History of the Imagination in South India
David Shulman
Harvard University Press, 2012

From the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, the major cultures of southern India underwent a revolution in sensibility reminiscent of what had occurred in Renaissance Italy. During this time, the imagination came to be recognized as the defining feature of human beings. More than Real draws our attention to a period in Indian history that signified major civilizational change and the emergence of a new, proto-modern vision.

In general, India conceived of the imagination as a causative agent: things we perceive are real because we imagine them. David Shulman illuminates this distinctiveness and shows how it differed radically from Western notions of reality and models of the mind. Shulman's explication offers insightful points of comparison with ancient Greek, medieval Islamic, and early modern European theories of mind, and returns Indology to its rightful position of intellectual relevance in the humanities.

At a time when contemporary ideologies and language wars threaten to segregate the study of pre-modern India into linguistic silos, Shulman demonstrates through his virtuoso readings of important literary works—works translated lyrically by the author from Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam—that Sanskrit and the classical languages of southern India have been intimately interwoven for centuries.

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Mughal Arcadia
Persian Literature in an Indian Court
Sunil Sharma
Harvard University Press, 2017

At its height in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Mughal Empire was one of the largest empires in Eurasia, with territory extending over most of the Indian subcontinent and much of present-day Afghanistan. As part of the Persianate world that spanned from the Bosphorus to the Bay of Bengal, Mughal rulers were legendary connoisseurs of the arts. Their patronage attracted poets, artists, and scholars from all parts of the eastern Islamic world. Persian was the language of the court, and poets from Safavid Iran played a significant role in the cultural life of the nobility. Mughal Arcadia explores the rise and decline of Persian court poetry in India and the invention of an enduring idea—found in poetry, prose, paintings, and architecture—of a literary paradise, a Persian garden located outside Iran, which was perfectly exemplified by the valley of Kashmir.

Poets and artists from Iran moved freely throughout the Mughal empire and encountered a variety of cultures and landscapes that inspired aesthetic experiments which continue to inspire the visual arts, poetry, films, and music in contemporary South Asia. Sunil Sharma takes readers on a dazzling literary journey over a vast geographic terrain and across two centuries, from the accession of the first emperor, Babur, to the throne of Hindustan to the reign of the sixth great Mughal, Aurangzeb, in order to illuminate the life of Persian poetry in India. Along the way, we are offered a rare glimpse into the social and cultural life of the Mughals.

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Narratology and Ideology
Negotiating Context, Form, and Theory in Postcolonial Narratives
Divya Dwivedi, Henrik Skov Nielsen, Richard Walsh
The Ohio State University Press, 2018
Narratology and Ideology: Negotiating Context, Form, and Theory in Postcolonial Narratives, edited by Divya Dwivedi, Henrik Skov Nielsen, and Richard Walsh, brings together many of the most prominent figures in the interface between narratology and postcolonial criticism. While narrative theory has for some time recognized the importance of context in the analysis of fiction, this recognition has not quickly translated into substantial work in fields like postcolonialism, where situated questions of value and ideology have been brought to the fore. Postcolonial criticism, on the other hand, has often neglected the formal qualities of fiction in preference for ideological thematic interpretations, precisely because of the suspect legacy of formalism. The volume, then, stages a meeting between these two fields, negotiating both narratological and postcolonialist concerns by addressing specific features of narrative form and technique in the ideological analysis of key postcolonial texts.
 
The thirteen essays in Narratology and Ideology offer compelling readings of individual novels, with a focus upon South Asian literature, that provide a cumulative case study on the value of postcolonial narratology. The essays show not only how narrative theory can be productively applied in service of postcolonial criticism but also how such attention to postcolonial fictions can challenge and refine our theoretical understanding of narrative.
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Of Gardens and Graves
Kashmir, Poetry, Politics
Suvir Kaul
Duke University Press, 2017
In Of Gardens and Graves Suvir Kaul examines the disruption of everyday life in Kashmir in the years following the region's pervasive militarization in 1990. Kaul's autobiographical and analytical essays, which were prompted by his yearly visits to Kashmir, are a combination of political analysis, literary criticism, memoir, and journalistic observation. In them he explores Kashmir's pre- and post-Partition history, the effects of militarization, state repression, the suspension of civil rights on Kashmiris, and the challenge Kashmir represents to the practice of democracy in India. The volume also features translations of Kashmiri poetry written in these years of conflict. These poems constitute an archive of heightened feelings and desires that affectively interrogate official accounts of Kashmir while telling us much about those who face extraordinary political turbulence and violence. Of Gardens and Graves also contains a photo essay by Javed Dar, whose photographs work together with Kaul's essays and the poems to represent the interweaving of ordinary life, civic strife, and spectacular violence in Kashmir.
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Poems from the Satsai
Biharilal
Harvard University Press, 2021

The seventeenth-century Hindi classic treasured for its subtle and beautiful portrayal of divine and erotic love’s pleasures and sorrows.

In his Satsai, or Seven Hundred Poems, the seventeenth-century poet Biharilal draws on a rich vernacular tradition, blending amorous narratives about the god Krishna and the goddess Radha with archetypal hero and heroine motifs from older Sanskrit and Prakrit conventions. While little is known of Biharilal’s life beyond his role as court poet to King Jai Singh of Amber (1611–1667), his verses reflect deep knowledge of local north Indian culture and geography, especially the bucolic landscapes of Krishna’s youth in the Braj region (in today’s Uttar Pradesh). With ingenuity and virtuosity, Biharilal weaves together worldly experience and divine immanence, and adapts the tropes of stylized courtly poetry, such as romantic rivalries, clandestine trysts, and the bittersweet sorrow of separated lovers.

Poems from the Satsai comprises a selection of four hundred couplets from this enduring work. The Hindi text—composed in Braj Bhasha, the literary language of early-modern north India—is presented here in the Devanagari script and accompanies a new English verse translation.

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Postcolonial Biology
Psyche and Flesh after Empire
Deepika Bahri
University of Minnesota Press, 2017

Although the body has been a vast subject for postcolonial studies, few theorists have attempted to go beyond the simple mixing of races in examining the impact of colonialism on the colonized body. However, as Deepika Bahri argues, it is essential to see the postcolonial body in a variety of forms: as capable of transformation not only in psyche and outward behavior but also in flesh and blood. 

European colonizers brought new ways of seeing the body in matters as basic as how to eat, speak, sit, shit, or spit. As nations decolonized, these imperialistic ideas remained, becoming part of the global economy of the body. In Postcolonial Biology, Bahri argues that the political challenges of the twenty-first century require that we deconstruct these imperial notions of the body, as they are fundamental to power structures governing today’s globalized world.

Postcolonial Biology investigates how minds and bodies have been shaped by colonial contact, to create deeply embedded hierarchies among the colonized. Moving beyond “North/South” thinking, Bahri reframes the questions of postcolonial bodies to address all societies, whether developed or developing. Engaging in innovative, highly original readings of major thinkers such as Adorno, Horkheimer, Derrida, and Fanon, this book brings an important new focus to the field of postcolonial studies—one that is essential to understanding the ideas and conflicts that currently dominate the global order.

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R. K. Narayan
A Critical Appreciation
William Walsh
University of Chicago Press, 1982
R. K. Narayan, author of more than a dozen novels and numerous short stories, is a writer of international stature. Only recently, however, has he received the critical attention that is his due.

This lucid and often eloquent study provides both new and devoted Narayan readers with an introduction to his life and work. William Walsh, who makes generous and apt use of quotations from Narayan's work, traces Narayan's artistic development and brings into clear relief the qualities that characterize his fiction: gentle irony, humor, and a tolerance of human foibles. Both a criticism and an appreciation, this work will prove valuable to those already acquainted with this delightful and important novelist and will lead others to his work for the first time.
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Reading India Now
Contemporary Formations in Literature and Popular Culture
Ulka Anjaria
Temple University Press, 2019

In an age of social media and reality television, reading and consumption habits in India now demand homegrown pulp fictions. Ulka Anjaria categorizes post-2000 Indian literature and popular culture as constituting “the contemporary,” a movement defined by new and experimental forms—where high- and low-brow meet, and genres break down. 

Reading India Now studies the implications of this developing trend as both the right-wing resurges and marginalized voices find expression. Anjaria explores the fiction of Chetan Bhagat and Anuja Chauhan as well as Aamir Khan’s television talk show, Satyamev Jayate, plus the work of documentarian Paromita Vohra, to argue how different kinds of texts are involved in imagining new political futures for an India in transition. Contemporary literature and popular culture in India might seem artless and capitalistic, but it is precisely its openness to the world outside that allows these new works to offer significant insight into the experiences and sensibilities of contemporary India.

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Reading Together, Reading Apart
Identity, Belonging, and South Asian American Community
Tamara Bhalla
University of Illinois Press, 2016
Often thought of as a solitary activity, the practice of reading can in fact encode the complex politics of community formation. Engagement with literary culture represents a particularly integral facet of identity formation--and expresses of a sense of belonging--within the South Asian diaspora in the United States.
 
Tamara Bhalla blends a case study with literary and textual analysis to illuminate this phenomenon. Her fascinating investigation considers institutions from literary reviews to the marketplace to social media and other technologies, as well as traditional forms of literary discussion like book clubs and academic criticism. Throughout, Bhalla questions how her subjects' circumstances, desires, and shared race and class, limit the values they ascribe to reading. She also examines how ideology circulating around a body of literature or a self-selected, imagined community of readers shapes reading itself and influences South Asians' powerful, if contradictory, relationship with ideals of cultural authenticity.
 
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Recitational Permutations of the Saunakiya Atharvaveda
Madhav M. Deshpande
Harvard University Press

This is a critical edition of the Kramapatha and Jatapatha forms of recitational permutations of several sections of the Saunakiya Atharvaveda available in six rare manuscripts found in Pune, India. Such recitational variations for the Atharvaveda are no longer available in the surviving oral tradition in India, and hence the texts, critically edited here, provide rare access to these materials. Some of these recitational variations are defined in the ancient text, Saunakiya Caturadhyayika, which was recently published in a critical edition in Harvard Oriental Studies (vol. 52, 1997).

The texts offered here allow scholars to compare the recitational tradition of the Atharvaveda with those of other Vedas, which are still available in the surviving oral tradition. The edition has a detailed introduction that investigates the historical origins, development, and significance of these recitational permutations.

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The Refugee Aesthetic
Reimagining Southeast Asian America
Timothy August
Temple University Press, 2021

The refugee is conventionally considered a powerless figure, eagerly cast aside by both migrant and host communities. In his book, The Refugee Aesthetic, Timothy August investigates how and why a number of Southeast Asian American artists and writers have recently embraced the figure of the refugee as a particularly transformative position. He explains how these artists, theorists, critics, and culture-makers reconstruct their place in the American imagination by identifying and critiquing the underlying structures of power that create refugees in the contemporary world.

August looks at the outside forces that shape refugee representation and how these expressions are received. He considers the visual legacy of the Southeast Asian refugee experience by analyzing music videos, graphic novels, and refugee artwork. August also examines the power of refugee literature, showing how and why Southeast Asian American writers look to the refugee position to disentangle their complicated aesthetic legacy. 

Arguing that “aesthetics” should be central to the conceptualization of critical refugee studies, August shows how representational structures can galvanize or marginalize refugees, depending on how refugee aesthetics are used and circulated.

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Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics
Draupadi among Rajputs, Muslims, and Dalits
Alf Hiltebeitel
University of Chicago Press, 1999
Throughout India and Southeast Asia, ancient classical epics—the Mahabharata and the Ramayana—continue to exert considerable cultural influence. Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics offers an unprecedented exploration into South Asia's regional epic traditions.

Using his own fieldwork as a starting point, Alf Hiltebeitel analyzes how the oral tradition of the south Indian cult of the goddess Draupadi and five regional martial oral epics compare with one another and tie in with the Sanskrit epics. Drawing on literary theory and cultural studies, he reveals the shared subtexts of the Draupadi cult Mahabharata and the five oral epics, and shows how the traditional plots are twisted and classical characters reshaped to reflect local history and religion. In doing so, Hiltebeitel sheds new light on the intertwining oral traditions of medieval Rajput military culture, Dalits ("former Untouchables"), and Muslims.

Breathtaking in scope, this work is indispensable for those seeking a deeper understanding of South Asia's Hindu and Muslim traditions.

This work is the third volume in Hiltebeitel's study of the Draupadi cult. Other volumes include Mythologies: From Gingee to Kuruksetra (Volume One), On Hindu Ritual and the Goddess (Volume Two), and Rethinking the Mahabharata (Volume Four).
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Rig Veda
A Metrically Restored Text with an Introduction and Notes
Barend Van Nooten and Gary Holland
Harvard University Press, 1994
This new edition of the Rgveda, the oldest Indian text in archaic Sanskrit, is the first to present the text (in Roman characters) in its original metrical arrangement and in a form that most closely approximates the pronunciation of the time of its composition. Nevertheless, as all the restorations deviating from the received traditional Samhita text are printed in italics, the traditional text can easily be reconstituted without reference to other editions. This had been sought for over a hundred years, yet a systematic restoration of the whole text has never before been attempted. Added is a study of the meters found in the text, their patterns and anomalies, and an appendix with a detailed discussion of each metrically problematic line.
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Righteous Republic
The Political Foundations of Modern India
Ananya Vajpeyi
Harvard University Press, 2012

What India’s founders derived from Western political traditions as they struggled to free their country from colonial rule is widely understood. Less well-known is how India’s own rich knowledge traditions of two and a half thousand years influenced these men as they set about constructing a nation in the wake of the Raj. In Righteous Republic, Ananya Vajpeyi furnishes this missing account, a ground-breaking assessment of modern Indian political thought.

Taking five of the most important founding figures—Mohandas Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Abanindranath Tagore, Jawaharlal Nehru, and B. R. Ambedkar—Vajpeyi looks at how each of them turned to classical texts in order to fashion an original sense of Indian selfhood. The diverse sources in which these leaders and thinkers immersed themselves included Buddhist literature, the Bhagavad Gita, Sanskrit poetry, the edicts of Emperor Ashoka, and the artistic and architectural achievements of the Mughal Empire. India’s founders went to these sources not to recuperate old philosophical frameworks but to invent new ones. In Righteous Republic, a portrait emerges of a group of innovative, synthetic, and cosmopolitan thinkers who succeeded in braiding together two Indian knowledge traditions, the one political and concerned with social questions, the other religious and oriented toward transcendence.

Within their vast intellectual, aesthetic, and moral inheritance, the founders searched for different aspects of the self that would allow India to come into its own as a modern nation-state. The new republic they envisaged would embody both India’s struggle for sovereignty and its quest for the self.

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Risalo
Shah Abdul Latif
Harvard University Press, 2018

The greatest classic of Sindhi literature presented here in an authoritative and vivid modern English translation.

Shah Abdul Latif’s Risalo is acknowledged across Pakistan and the wider diaspora as the greatest classic of Sindhi literature. In this collection of short Sufi verses, originally composed for musical performance, the poet creates a vast imaginative world of interlocking references to traditional Islamic themes of mystical and divine love and the scenery, society, and legends of the Sindh region.

Latif (1689–1752), a contemporary of the Panjabi poet Bullhe Shah, belonged to the class of Sufi saints whose shrines remain prominent features of the Sindhi landscape. The Risalo reflects Latif’s profound engagement with the fundamental literature of Islam as well as his openness to varied local traditions, including notable poems praising the spiritual devotion of local Hindu yogis.

This edition presents, alongside the original text in the Sindhi Naskh script, the first translation of the Risalo into modern English prose, offering a new readership access to the writings of one of the masters of Sufi poetry.

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Rogues in the Postcolony
Narrating Extraction and Itinerancy in India
Stacey Balkan
West Virginia University Press, 2022

An environmental humanists study of extractive capitalism and colonial occupation in Indian fiction.

Rogues in the Postcolony is a study of Anglophone Indian picaresque novels that dramatize the impacts of extractive capitalism and colonial occupation on local communities in several Indian states. In this materialist history of development on the subcontinent, Stacey Balkan considers works by Amitav Ghosh, Indra Sinha, and Aravind Adiga that critique violent campaigns of enclosure and dispossession at the hands of corporate entities like the English East India Company and its many legatees. By foregrounding the intersections among landscape ideology, agricultural improvement, extractive capitalism, and aesthetic expression, Rogues in the Postcolony also attends to the complicity of popular aesthetic forms with political and economic policy, as well as the colonial and extractivist logics that often frame discussions around the so-called Anthropocene epoch.

Bringing together questions about settler-colonial practices and environmental injustice, Rogues in the Postcolony concludes with an investigation of new extractivist frontiers, including solar capitalism, and considers the possibility of imagining life after extraction on the Indian subcontinent and beyond.

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Sanskrit Grammar
Including both the Classical Language, and the Older Dialects, of Veda and Brahmana, 2nd ed
William Dwight Whitney
Harvard University Press, 1889

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Sanskrit Poetry from Vidyakara's Treasury
Daniel H. H. Ingalls
Harvard University Press

In this rich collection of Sanskrit verse, the late Daniel Ingalls provides English readers with a wide variety of poetry from the vast anthology of an eleventh-century Buddhist scholar.

Although the style of poetry presented here originated in royal courts, Ingalls shows how it was adapted to all aspects of life, and came to address issues as diverse as love, sex, heroes, nature, and peace. More than thirty years after its original publication, Sanskrit Poetry continues to be the main resource for all interested in this multifaceted and elegant tradition.

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A Sanskrit Treasury
A Compendium of Literature from the Clay Sanskrit Library
Camillo A. Formigatti
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2020
This beautiful collection brings together passages from the renowned stories, poems, dramas and myths of South Asian literature, including the Mahabharata and the Ramaya?a. Drawing on the translations published by the Clay Sanskrit Library, the book presents episodes from the adventures of young Krishna, the life of Prince Rama and Hindu foundational myths, the life of the Buddha, as well as Buddhist and Jaina birth stories. Pairing key excerpts from these wonderful Sanskrit texts with exquisite illustrations from the Bodleian Library’s rich manuscript collections, the book includes images of birch-bark and palm-leaf manuscripts, vibrant Mughal miniatures, early printed books, sculptures, watercolour paintings and even early photograph albums. Each extract is presented in both English translation and Sanskrit in Devanagari script, and is accompanied by a commentary on the literature and related books and artworks. The collection is organised by geographical region and includes sections on the Himalayas, North India, Central and South India, Sri Lanka and South East Asia, Tibet, Inner and East Asia, and the Middle East and Europe. This is the perfect introduction for anyone interested in Sanskrit literature and the manuscript art of South Asia – and beyond.
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Saunakiya Caturadhyayika
A Pratisakhya of the Saunakiya Atharvaveda
Madhav M. Deshpande
Harvard University Press

A detailed discussion by the editor complements this critical edition and translation of the phonetical treatise (Pratisakhya) of the Saunaka Samhita, one of two versions of the second oldest Indian text, the Saunaka Atharvaveda.

The 19th century edition of the text by W.D. Whitney has long been out of date; this reevaluation provides insights into early grammatical thought and helps to re-establish the textual tradition of the Atharvaveda. The book deals with the phonetically correct pronunciation of that text which has received only preliminary treatment thus far. It is also one of the few in its genre.

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Selected Ghazals and Other Poems
Mir Taqi Mir
Harvard University Press, 2019

The finest ghazals of Mir Taqi Mir, the most accomplished of Urdu poets.

Mir Muhammad Taqi Mir (1723–1810) is widely regarded as the most accomplished poet in the Urdu language. His massive output—six divans—was produced in Delhi and Lucknow during the high tide of Urdu literary culture.

Selected Ghazals and Other Poems offers a comprehensive collection of Mir’s finest ghazals, extended lyrics composed of couplets, and of his masnavis, narrative works of a romantic or didactic character. The ghazals celebrate earthly and mystical love through subtle wordplay, vivid descriptions of the beloved, and a powerful individual voice. The sometimes satirical masnavis highlight everyday subjects: domestic pets, monsoon rains, the rigors of travel. They also include two astonishing love stories: one about young men whose relationship is shattered when one marries; the other about a queen, her peacock lover, and the jealous king who seeks to drive them apart.

The Urdu text, presented here in the Nastaliq script, accompanies new translations of Mir’s poems, some appearing in English for the first time.

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Speaking of the Self
Gender, Performance, and Autobiography in South Asia
Anshu Malhotra and Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, editors
Duke University Press, 2015
Many consider the autobiography to be a Western genre that represents the self as fully autonomous. The contributors to Speaking of the Self challenge this presumption by examining a wide range of women's autobiographical writing from South Asia. Expanding the definition of what kinds of writing can be considered autobiographical, the contributors analyze everything from poetry, songs, mystical experiences, and diaries to prose, fiction, architecture, and religious treatises. The authors they study are just as diverse: a Mughal princess, an eighteenth-century courtesan from Hyderabad, a nineteenth-century Muslim prostitute in Punjab, a housewife in colonial Bengal, a Muslim Gandhian devotee of Krishna, several female Indian and Pakistani novelists, and two male actors who worked as female impersonators. The contributors find that in these autobiographies the authors construct their gendered selves in relational terms. Throughout, they show how autobiographical writing—in whatever form it takes—provides the means toward more fully understanding the historical, social, and cultural milieu in which the author performs herself and creates her subjectivity.

Contributors: Asiya Alam, Afshan Bokhari, Uma Chakravarti, Kathryn Hansen, Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, Anshu Malhotra, Ritu Menon, Shubhra Ray, Shweta Sachdeva Jha, Sylvia Vatuk
 
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The Story of Manu
Allasani Peddana
Harvard University Press, 2015

The literary jewel of Telegu civilization, translated for the first time into any language.

Manucaritramu, or The Story of Manu, by the early sixteenth-century poet Allasani Peddana, is the definitive literary monument of Telugu civilization and a powerful embodiment of the imperial culture of Vijayanagara, the last of the great premodern south Indian states. It is the story of Svarochisha Manu, who ruled over the previous cosmic age and who serves here as prototype for the first human being. Peddana explores the dramatic displacements, imaginative projections, and intricate workings of desire necessary for Manu’s birth and formation. The Story of Manu is also a book about kingship and its exigencies at the time of Krishnadevaraya, the most powerful of the Vijayanagara rulers, who was a close friend and patron of the poet.

The Story of Manu, presented in the Telugu script alongside the first translation into any language, is a true masterpiece of early modern south Indian literature.

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Strī
Women in Epic Mahābhārata
Kevin McGrath
Harvard University Press
This book is a study of heroic femininity as it appears in the epic Mahābhārata, and focuses particularly on the roles of wife, daughter-in-law, and mother, on how these women speak and on the kinship groups and varying marital systems that surround them. It portrays those qualities that cohere about women in the poem, which are particular to them and which distinguish them as women, and describes how women heroes function as crucial speakers in the generation and maintenance of cultural value and worth. This includes men who have been transformed into women and women who have been reincarnated as men. The overall method accomplishes an ethnography of text, describing a special aspect of the bronze age preliterate and premonetary world as it is represented by the actions and metaphors of Mahābhārata. References to contemporary Indian cinema and popular culture support the narrative of the book, bringing modern valence to the arguments.
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Sufi Lyrics
Selections from a World Classic
Bullhe Shah
Harvard University Press, 2021

A modern translation of verses by Bullhe Shah, the iconic eighteenth-century Sufi poet, treasured by readers worldwide to this day.

Bullhe Shah’s work is among the glories of Panjabi literature, and the iconic eighteenth-century poet is widely regarded as a master of mystical Sufi poetry. His verses, famous for their vivid style and outspoken denunciation of artificial religious divisions, have long been beloved and continue to win audiences around the world. This striking new translation is the most authoritative and engaging introduction to an enduring South Asian classic.

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Sur’s Ocean
Classic Hindi Poetry in Translation
Surdas
Harvard University Press, 2015

“John Stratton Hawley miraculously manages to braid the charged erotic and divine qualities of Krishna, the many-named god, while introducing us—with subtle occasional rhyme—to a vividly particularized world of prayers and crocodile earrings, spiritual longing and love-struck bees.”
—Forrest Gander, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry


An award-winning translation of Hindi verses composed by one of India’s treasured poets.

The blind poet Surdas has been regarded as the epitome of artistry in Hindi verse from the end of the sixteenth century, when he lived, to the present day. His fame rests upon his remarkable refashioning of the widely known narrative of the Hindu deity Krishna and his lover Radha into lyrics that are at once elegant and approachable. Surdas’s popularity led to the proliferation, through an energetic oral tradition, of poems ascribed to him, known collectively as the Sūrsāgar.

This award-winning translation reconstructs the early tradition of Surdas’s verse—the poems that were known to the singers of Surdas’s own time as his. Here Surdas stands out with a clarity never before achieved.

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Sur’s Ocean
Poems from the Early Tradition
Surdas
Harvard University Press, 2015

Surdas has been regarded as the epitome of artistry in Old Hindi religious poetry from the end of the sixteenth century, when he lived, to the present day. His fame rests upon his remarkable refashioning of the widely known narrative of the cowherd deity Krishna and his lover Radha into lyrics that are at once elegant and approachable. Surdas’s popularity led to the proliferation, through an energetic oral tradition, of poems ascribed to him, known as the Sūrsāgar.

Sur’s Ocean: Poems from the Early Tradition presents a dramatically new edition in Devanagari script and a lyrical English translation. This remarkable volume reconstructs the early tradition of Surdas’s verse—the 433 poems that were known to the singers of Surdas’s own time as his. Here Surdas stands out with a clarity never before achieved.

The Murty Classical Library of India makes available original texts and modern English translations of the masterpieces of literature and thought from across the whole spectrum of Indic languages over the past two millennia in the most authoritative and accessible formats on offer anywhere.

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Śṛṅgāraprakāśa of Bhoja
Venkatarama Raghavan
Harvard University Press, 1998

This edition is based on new manuscripts of this important treatise on classical Sanskrit poetics. It was composed by the famous eleventh-century King Bhoja of Malwa (West India), a patron of traditional learning.

The text has never received a complete critical edition. It is important not only because of the theoretical treatment of the erotic sentiment (śṛṅgāra) in classical Sanskrit texts. It is also a mine of quotations from extant and also from lost Sanskrit and Prakrit poetical texts.

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Śṛṅgāraprakāśa of Bhoja
Venkatarama Raghavan
Harvard University Press

This edition is based on new manuscripts of this important treatise on classical Sanskrit poetics. It was composed by the famous eleventh-century King Bhoja of Malwa (West India), a patron of traditional learning.

The text has never received a complete critical edition. It is important not only because of the theoretical treatment of the erotic sentiment (śṛṅgāra) in classical Sanskrit texts. It is also a mine of quotations from extant and also from lost Sanskrit and Prakrit poetical texts.

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The Teleology of Poetics in Medieval Kashmir
Lawrence J. McCrea
Harvard University Press

This book examines the revolution in Sanskrit poetics initiated by the ninth-century Kashmiri Anandavardhana. Anandavardhana replaced the formalist aesthetic of earlier poeticians with one stressing the unifunctionality of literary texts, arguing that all components of a work should subserve a single purpose—the communication of a single emotional mood (rasa). Attention was redirected from formal elements toward specific poems, viewed as aesthetically integrated wholes, thereby creating new literary critical possibilities.

Anandavardhana’s model of textual coherence, along with many key analytic concepts, are rooted in the hermeneutic theory of the Mimamsakas (Vedic Exegetes). Like Anandavardhana, the Mimamsakas made the unifunctionality of texts their most basic interpretive principle.

While Anandavardhana’s teleological approach to textual analysis gained rapid acceptance among the Kashmiri poeticians, another aspect of his theory became controversial. He argued that rasa, and certain other poetic meanings, cannot be conveyed by recognized semantic processes, and therefore postulated a new semantic function, dhvani (“suggestion”) to account for them. The controversy over this “suggestion” rapidly became the central topic in poetics, to the exclusion of teleologically based criticism. While dhvani ultimately gained universal acceptance among Sanskrit poeticians, the conflict over its existence, ironically, marginalized Anandavardhana’s preferred approach to poetic analysis.

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Ten Indian Classics
Murty Classical Library of India
Harvard University Press

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Territory of Desire
Representing the Valley of Kashmir
Ananya Jahanara Kabir
University of Minnesota Press, 2009

Moves beyond traditional analysis to understand the conflict over Kashmir

A result of territorial disputes between India and Pakistan since 1947, exacerbated by armed freedom movements since 1989, the ongoing conflict over Kashmir is consistently in the news. Taking a unique multidisciplinary approach, Territory of Desire asks how, and why, Kashmir came to be so intensely desired within Indian, Pakistani, and Kashmiri nationalistic imaginations. Literary historian Ananya Jahanara Kabir finds an answer to this question in the Valley of Kashmir’s repeated portrayal as a “special” place and the missing piece of Pakistan and India.

Analyzing the conversion of natural beauty into collective desire—through photography, literature, cinema, art, and souvenir production—Kabir exposes the links between colonialism, modernity, and conflict within the postcolonial nation. Representations of Kashmir as a space of desire emerge in contemporary film, colonial “taming” of the valley through nineteenth-century colonialist travelogues, the fetishization of traditional Kashmiri handicrafts like papier maché, and Pandit and Muslim religious revivalisms in the region. Linking a violent modernity to the fantasies of nationhood, Kabir proposes nonmilitaristic ways in which such desire may be overcome. In doing so she offers an innovative approach to complex and protracted conflict and, ultimately, its resolution.
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Trance-Migrations
Stories of India, Tales of Hypnosis
Lee Siegel
University of Chicago Press, 2014
Listen to what I am about to tell you: do not read this book alone. You really shouldn’t. In one of the most playful experiments ever put between two covers, every other section of Trance-Migrations prescribes that you read its incantatory tales out loud to a lover, friend, or confidant, in order to hypnotize in preparation for Lee Siegel’s exploration of an enchanting India. To read and hear this book is to experience a particular kind of relationship, and that’s precisely the point: hypnosis, the book will demonstrate, is an essential aspect of our most significant relationships, an inherent dimension of love, religion, medicine, politics, and literature, a fundamental dynamic between lover and beloved, deity and votary, physician and patient, ruler and subject, and, indeed, reader and listener.
           
Even if you can’t read this with a partner—and I stress that you certainly ought to—you will still be in rich company. There is Shambaraswami, an itinerant magician, hypnotist, and storyteller to whom villagers turn for spells that will bring them wealth or love; José-Custodio de Faria, a Goan priest hypnotizing young and beautiful women in nineteenth-century Parisian salons; James Esdaile, a Scottish physician for the East India Company in Calcutta, experimenting on abject Bengalis with mesmerism as a surgical anesthetic; and Lee Siegel, a writer traveling in India to learn all that he can about hypnosis, yoga, past life regressions, colonialism, orientalism, magic spells, and, above all, the power of story. And then there is you: descending through these histories—these tales within tales, trances within trances, dreams within dreams—toward a place where the distinctions between reverie and reality dissolve.
           
Here the world within the book and that in which the book is read come startlingly together. It’s one of the most creative works we have ever published, a dazzling combination of literary prowess, scholarly erudition, and psychological exploration—all tempered by warm humor and a sharp wit. It is informing, entertaining, and, above all, mesmerizing. 
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The Triumph of the Snake Goddess
Kaiser Haq
Harvard University Press, 2015

Snakes exist in the myths of most societies, often embodying magical, mysterious forces. Snake cults were especially important in eastern India and Bangladesh, where for centuries worshippers of the indigenous snake goddess Manasa resisted the competing religious influences of Indo-Europeans and Muslims. The result was a corpus of verse texts narrating Manasa’s struggle to win universal adoration.

The Triumph of the Snake Goddess is the first comprehensive retelling of this epic tale in modern English. Scholar and poet Kaiser Haq offers a composite prose translation of Manasa’s story, based on five extant versions. Following the tradition of mangalkavyas—Bengali verse narratives celebrating the deeds of deities in order to win their blessings—the tale opens with a creation myth and a synopsis of Indian mythology, zooming in on Manasa, the miraculous child of the god Shiva. Manasa easily wins the allegiance of everyone except the wealthy merchant Chand, who holds fast in his devotion to Shiva despite seeing his sons massacred. A celestial couple is incarnated on earth to fulfill Manasa’s design: Behula, wife to one of Chand’s slain sons, undertakes a harrowing odyssey to restore him to life with Manasa’s help, ultimately persuading Chand to bow to the snake goddess.

A prologue by Haq explores the Bengali oral, poetic, and manuscript traditions behind this Hindu folk epic—a vibrant part of popular Bengali culture, Hindu and Muslim, to this day—and an introduction by Wendy Doniger examines the history and significance of snake worship in classical Sanskrit texts.

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Violent Belongings
Partition, Gender, and National Culture in Postcolonial India
Kavita Daiya
Temple University Press, 2008
Focusing on the historical and contemporary narration of the Partition of India, Violent Belongings examines transnational South Asian culture from 1947 onwards. Spanning the Indian subcontinent and its diasporas in the United Kingdom and the United States, it asks how postcolonial/diasporic literature (eg., Rushdie, Mistry, Sidwa and Lahiri), Bollywood film, personal testimonies and journalism represent the violence, migration and questions of national belonging unleashed by that pivotal event during which two million people died and sixteen million were displaced.

In addition to challenging the official narratives of independence and Partition, these narratives challenge our contemporary  understanding of gender and ethnicity in history and politics. Violent Belongings argues that both male and female bodies, and heterosexual coupledom, became symbols of the nation in public life.  In the newly independent Indian nation both men and women were transformed into ideal citizens or troubling bodies, immigrants or refugees, depending on whether they were ethnically Hindu, Muslim, Jewish or Sikh. The divisions set in motion during Partition continue into our own time and account for ethnic violence in South Asia.
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Whose India?
The Independence Struggle in British and Indian Fiction and History
Teresa Hubel
Duke University Press, 1996
For centuries, India has captured our imagination. Far more than a mere geographical presence, India is also an imaginative construct shaped by competing cultures, emotions, and ideologies. In Whose India? Teresa Hubel examines literary and historical texts by the British and Indian writers who gave meaning to the construct “India” during the final decades of the Empire. Feminist and postcolonial in its approach, this work describes the contest between British imperialists and Indian nationalists at that historical moment when India sought to achieve its independence; that is, when the definition, acquisition, and ownership of India was most vehemently at stake.
Hubel collapses the boundary between literature and history by emphasizing the selected nature of the “facts” that comprise historical texts, and by demonstrating the historicity of fiction. In analyzing the orthodox construction of the British/Indian encounter, Hubel calls into question assumptions about the end of nationalism implicit in mainstream histories and fiction, which generally describe a battleground on which only ruling-class Indians and British meet. Marginalized texts by women, untouchables, and overt imperialists alike are, therefore, examined alongside the well-known work of figures such as Rudyard Kipling, Jawaharlal Nehru, E. M. Forster, and Mahatma Gandhi.
In Whose India? discursive ownership and resistance to ownership are mutually constructing categories. As a result, the account of Indian nationalism and British imperialism that emerges is much more complicated, multivocal, and even more contradictory than previous studies have imagined. Of interest to students and scholars engaged in literary, historical, colonial/postcolonial, subaltern, and Indian studies, Whose India? will also attract readers concerned with gender issues and the canonization of texts.
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The Yavanajataka of Sphujidhvaja
David Pingree
Harvard University Press, 1978
The Yavanajataka, or “Greek Horoscopy,” is the only ancient Sanskrit text that can be proved to derive from a Western source; hence its importance for the study of cultural transmission. David Pingree's text and translation are accompanied by notes and commentary which demonstrate that this third-century astrological poem was based on a second-century prose translation of an Alexandrian Greek original. The Yavanajataka, here published for the first time, is the most solid evidence we have of the influence of Greece upon India in antiquity; in its own right it was the fountainhead of a rich astrological tradition in India. This monumental edition has been described as “a marvel of accurate and imaginative scholarship.”
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