Critical Discourse in Odia  book cover
1st Edition

Critical Discourse in Odia

ISBN 9781138504806
Published November 26, 2021 by Routledge India
334 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This volume forms part of the Critical Discourses in South Asia series, which deals with schools, movements and discursive practices in major South Asian languages. It offers crucial insights into the making of Odia literature and its critical tradition across a century. The book brings together English translation of major writings of influential figures dealing with literary criticism and theory, aesthetic and performative traditions, and re-interpretations of primary concepts and categories in Odia. It presents twenty-five key texts in literary and cultural studies from late-nineteenth century to early-twenty-first century, translated by experts for the first time into English. These seminal essays explore complex interconnections between socio-historical events in the colonial and post-Independence period in Odisha and the language movement. They discuss themes such as the evolving idea of literature and criteria of critical evaluation; revision and expansion of the literary canon; the transition from orality to print; emergence of new reading practices resulting in shifts in aesthetic sensibility; dialectics of tradition and modernity; and the formation, consolidation and political consequences of a language-based identity.

Comprehensive and authoritative, this volume offers an overview of the history of critical thought in Odia literature in South Asia. It will be essential for scholars and researchers of Odia language and literature, literary criticism, literary theory, comparative literature, Indian literature, cultural studies, art and aesthetics, performance studies, history, sociology, regional studies and South Asian studies. It will also interest the Odia-speaking diaspora and those working on the intellectual history of Odisha and Eastern India and conservation of language and culture.

Table of Contents


Jatindra Kumar Nayak and Animesh Mohapatra

1. Odia folktales

Mohini Mohan Senapati

Translated by Shaswat Panda

2. Village songs in Odia

Chakradhar Mohapatra

Translated by Animesh Mohapatra

3. Colophons of palm-leaf manuscripts in Odisha

Debi Prasanna Pattanayak

Translated by Urmishree Bedamatta

4. Sudramuni Sarala Das: the author of Odia Mahabharata

Shyam Sundar Rajguru

Translated by Niroj Kumar Sethi

5. Reflections on Sarala Das’s Mahabharata: excerpts from Sree Bharata Darpan

Gopinath Nanda Sarma

Translated by Sumanyu Satpathy

6. The portrayal of women in Sarala Das’s Mahabharata

Sarala Devi

Translated by Kalidas Misra

7. Representations of the conflict between the city and the forest in Odia literature

Gaganendra Nath Dash

Translated by Shaswat Panda

8. An essay on Dinakrushna Das’s Rasakallola

Mrutyunjay Ratha

Translated by Urmishree Bedamatta

9. Baladeb Ratha and his experiments in poetry

Sachchidananda Mishra

Translated by Ujaan Ghosh and Amrita Chowdhury

10. Perso-Arabic influence on Odia literature

Krushna Charan Behera

Translated by Sangram Jena

11. Michael Madhusudan Dutta and his Meghanadvadh Kavya

Fakir Mohan Senapati

Translated by Jatindra Kumar Nayak and Animesh Mohapatra

12. System of patronage and attribution of authorship in Colonial Odisha: the case of Gangadhar Meher

Debendra Dash

Translated by Umasankar Patra

13. War of words: aspects of a literary controversy

Sudarsana Acharya

Translated by Animesh Mohapatra

14. The need for a literary periodical

Biswanath Kar and Chandra Mohan Maharana

Translated by Aditya Nayak

15. Two Odia books: a review

Gopal Chandra Praharaj

Translated by Sumanyu Satpathy

16. Fakir Mohan Senapati’s Mamu: a review

Ashraf Ali Khan

Translated by Umasankar Patra

17. Literature and morality

Surendra Mohanty

Translated by Aruni Mahapatra

18. Odia drama: a study of its social background

Girija Sankar Ray

Translated by Haramohan Nayak

19. Accounting for literary change: a survey of modern Odia poetry

Basant Kumar Satpathy

Translated by Niroj Kumar Sethi

20. Netramani’s diary

Natabara Samantaray

Translated by Jyotirmaya Tripathy

21. Rabindranath Tagore and modern Odia poetry

Gopinath Mohanty

Translated by Snehaprava Das

22. The commercial prospects of modern Odia literature

Krishna Chandra Panigrahi

Translated by Amrita Chowdhury and Ujaan Ghosh

23. The poetry of Sachidananda Rautray

Chintamani Behera

Translated by Jatindra Kumar Nayak

24. Odia literature: a historical enquiry

Nilakantha Das

Translated by Jatindra Kumar Nayak

25. Literature and philosophy

Bipin Bihari Ray

Translated Asim Ranjan Parhi


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Jatindra Kumar Nayak is former Professor of English, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India. He is recipient of the Hutch-Crossword Book Award, 2004, and Katha Translation Award, 1997. He is a member of the English Advisory Board, Sahitya Akademi. His English translations of classic Odia novels include Chandrasekhar Rath’s Yantrarudha (Astride the Wheel, 2003), Fakir Mohan Senapati’s Mamu (The Maternal Uncle, 2007) and J P Das’s Desh Kal Patra (A Time Elsewhere, 2009). He has co-edited Reminiscences: Excerpts from Oriya and Bangla Autobiographies (2004) and Memory, Images, Imagination: An Anthology of Bangla and Odia Writings on Colonial Burma (2010).

Animesh Mohapatra teaches English literature at Delhi College of Arts & Commerce, University of Delhi, India. His research interests include literary history, modernity studies, translation and print culture. He has co-edited a selection of critical essays by eminent Odia critic Natabara Samantaray in English translation, which was published by Sahitya Akademi in 2017. He has recently contributed a chapter on Odia devotional songs to a volume titled Bonding with the Lord: Jagannath, Popular Culture and Community Formation (2020).


‘The translation of novels, stories and plays from Indian languages is now a flourishing field. The translation of scholarly and critical works, however, is much less developed. This landmark volume presents a wide-ranging and richly informative history of Odia literature through its translation of major essays in literary criticism. The contributions cover different genres — folk tales, village songs, epics, novels, poems and plays. They discuss literature with regard to its aesthetic aspects as well as in its social and historical context. The book is further enriched by a brilliant introduction by the editors, which provides a magisterial overview of literary production in Odia from oral traditions and palm-leaf manuscripts to print culture.’

Ramachandra Guha, historian and biographer


‘All literary traditions are constantly evolving and, in this volume, we find this happening before our eyes in the case of Odia. The twenty-five extracts selected here from the critical debates that took place in the modern period convey a vivid sense of the contestations over tradition and modernity, the shaping of the literary public sphere, and the formation of the canon. The editorial headnotes are a model of their kind in their erudition and perspicacity. Critical Discourse in Odia will serve to enrich and refine our understanding of Odia Literature substantially.’

Harish Trivedi, critic, scholar and former Professor of English, University of Delhi, India


‘The twenty-five carefully chosen essays in this excellent volume, competently translated from Odia into English, enlighten us on the origin and the development of literary criticism in Odia, the evolution of the idea of literature, and the gradual emergence of a responsive readership of critical discourse in this language. The introduction to the volume embodies outstanding scholarship. Specialists and general readers will certainly find reading this book an enjoyable and enriching experience.’

Bibudhendra Narayan Patnaik, linguist, scholar, and former Professor of English and Linguistics, IIT Kanpur, India


‘A remarkable, much-needed resource for anyone — writer, reader, scholar — interested in India’s, and Odisha’s, unique but insufficiently addressed literary modernity.’

Amit Chaudhuri, novelist and critic, and Professor of Contemporary Literature, University of East Anglia, UK


‘Odisha is the first state in India to be organized on linguistic lines — an index of the pioneering nature of its linguistic consciousness. Falling under the ‘rain shadow region’ of Bangla and English, knowledge about the depth and range of Odisha’s linguistic culture and its encounter with modernity is unfortunately scant. Edited by Odisha’s foremost bilingual scholar with the collaboration of a younger academic, Critical Discourse in Odia rectifies this gap with twenty-five essays drawn from nearly one-and-a-half centuries. Introductory notes on the essays are both informative and insightful. A model for future volumes on other literary cultures to emulate.’ 

A.R. Venkatachalapathy, Professor, Madras Institute of Development Studies and author of The Province of the Book: Scholars, Scribes and Scribblers in Colonial Tamilnadu


‘This very important volume features a selection of key Odia-language critical essays in English translation. It foregrounds the critical tradition in Odia, makes essays on Odia oral and literary culture more accessible and promises to significantly transform our university curricula, as well as our understanding of Indian critical discourse.’

Sayantan Dasgupta, Coordinator, Centre for Translation of Indian Literatures, Department of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India


‘This collection of twenty-five essays in translation — a collaborative project between the two editors and a score of translators — represents a landmark bridge by which to access Odia literature and literary criticism. The selected essays, written by Odisha's leading writers and scholars, document the trends and developments in the Odia critical tradition from the late-nineteenth century to the present. They also reflect the process by which Odia literary culture reconciled its historical manuscript tradition with the modern medium of print.’

Murali Ranganathan, urban historian and translator, Mumbai, India