Literature of South Asia: A Thousand and One Narrators
"What is found here is to be found elsewhere too... but what is not found here is to be found nowhere."
- The Mahābhārata, Ādi Parva
This course considers masterpieces of story literature from India and surrounding regions, with focus on The Mahābhārata, A Tale of Four Dervishes, and The Arabian Nights. Each of these texts has had wide influence on Eastern and Western literatures and continues to inspire rich performance and literary traditions today. We will discuss the impact of indigenous and external sources on the major texts, their treatment of universal themes such as curiosity and fate, and narrative theory and structure. All works will be read in English translation, and no prior knowledge is assumed.
The major texts for this course are:
The Mahabharata, translated by Chakravarti V. Narasimhan
A Tale of Four Dervishes (Bāgh o Bahār), by Mir Amman
The Arabian Nights, translated by Husain Haddawy