Beginning in the sixth century C.E. and continuing for more than
a thousand years, an extraordinary poetic practice was the
trademark of a major literary movement in South Asia. Authors
invented a special language to depict both the apparent and hidden
sides of disguised or dual characters, and then used it to narrate
India's major epics, the Ramayana and the
Originally produced in Sanskrit, these dual narratives
eventually worked their way into regional languages, especially
Telugu and Tamil, and other artistic media, such as sculpture.
Scholars have long dismissed simultaneous narration as a mere
curiosity, if not a sign of cultural decline in medieval India. Yet
Yigal Bronner's Extreme Poetry effectively negates this
position, proving that, far from being a meaningless pastime, this
intricate, "bitextual" technique both transcended and reinvented
Sanskrit literary expression.
The poems of simultaneous narration teased and estranged
existing convention and showcased the interrelations between the
tradition's foundational texts. By focusing on these achievements
and their reverberations through time, Bronner rewrites the history
of Sanskrit literature and its aesthetic goals. He also expands on
contemporary theories of intertextuality, which have been largely
confined to Western texts and practices.
Subjects: Language & Literature, History, Religion
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