This volume is a cross-cultural study of the evolution of civilisation. Drawing its material and inspiration from literature and culture, it looks at the achievements of humankind as a single imaginative experience. The book examines how traditions of poetry and literature have shaped cultures, societies and civilisations, and their inter-relatedness. Analysing stereotypes in Asia and Europe, the author raises questions fundamental to our perceptions of culture, democracy, and language. He throws light on dominant languages and languages cast aside by the tides of history, and attributes the status of English as a 'world language' to ideas propagated in the great epics of the West — particularly Roman — and the poetic heritage shaped by them.
Discussing the fallout of that dream on other cultures and ‘non-technical’ languages of the world, this book investigates questions of legitimacy and desirability of a single language or culture becoming universal.
A sensitive and nuanced work, it promises a good read for general readers as well as researchers interested in world literature, comparative literature, sociology and cultural studies, in the interaction between science and art, and in the forces that shape the world order.
Table of Contents
1. Not an Introduction
2. Virgil: The Ideal Poet
3. Dante: An Unveiling of Europe
4. The Unprecedented Pair
5. On Milton
6. Pṛthivyā iva Mānadanḍaḥ
7. The Ideal Character
8. The Epic Tradition and Milton
9. The Culture that Speaks
10. Changing Cultures and Living Traditions
11. To Homer Again
12. The First Epic
13. Kalidasa’s Prayer
14. Translations and Versions
15. Breaking and Making Tradition
16. The Modernists
17. The Final Shape
18. Kālasya niscayah
19. The Sublimity of Kalidasa
20. "Play on, pressing to the bosom!"
21. Beyond East and West
22. Towards New Beginnings
Suchethana Swaroop is the Chief Information Commissioner, Karnataka Information Commission, Bengaluru, India. He has previously taught media and communications and served as Director, Educational Multimedia Research Centre, at the University of Mysore, India.
N. S. Raghavan (the translator) holds a doctorate in literature from the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, India, and has taught English language and literature for over three decades.