Author: Romila Thapar
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8186706119
This book attempts to explore some of the links between culture, history and gender, and between literature and history, through reading variant versions of the narrative of Sakuntala.
The importance of Sakuntala as personifying Indian womanhood in Indian literature and culture is undisputed. This book attempts to explore some of the links. These include the stories in the Mahabharata, the play by Kalidasa and the 18th century Katha in Braj. The transformation of Sakuntala from an autonomous, assertive figure in the Mahabharata to the quintessential submissive woman in Kalidasa version, is carefully examined by the author through a fascinating reading of texts and translations of the play in India and Europe.
European responses to Kalidasa's play and its evolution as a cultural icon in colonial India are discussed as an aspect of the interface between culture and history, Orientalist and nationalist readings further highlight this interaction in the production of culture and underline the changes in conceptualizing what is presumed to be an ideal woman in Indian society.
Included in this volume are excerpts from the Adi Parvan of the Mahabharata, Kathasaritsagar and the full text of Kalidasa's Sakuntala.
The Narrative from the Mahabharata
The Abhijnana-sakuntalam of Kalidasa
Sakuntala and the Ring of Recollection - the play by Kalidasa
Popular and high culture as historical parallels
Adaptations: another popular tradition and its role in another court
Translations: Orientalism, German romanticism and the image of Sakuntala
Translation: colonial views
Sakuntala from the perspective of middle-class nationalism