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University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana
Comparative Literature

The Literatures of India in Comparative Perspectives.

Fall 199l S.D.Serebriany

Students are expected to have the following books:

1. The Literatures of India. An Introduction. By E,C.Dimock,Jr. and others; The University of Chicago Press,l978.

2. Sources of Indian Tradition. 2nd ed. Volume One. Ed. by Ainslee T.Embree. Columbia University Press,l988.

3. Buddhist Scriptures. Selected and translated by E.Conze. Penguin Classics.

4. The Bhagavad-Gita. Tr, by B.Stoler Miller. Bantam Books ,1986.

5. Poems from the Sanskrit. Tr. with an introduction by J.Brough. Penguin Classics.

6. Pushkin A. Eugene Onegin. Tr, by Ch.Johnston. Penguin Classics.

7. Vikram Seth. The Golden Gate. A Novel in Verse.


Readings will be also assigned from the following books, which will be placed ON RESERVE in the Modern Languages Library:

1. Kripalani K. Literature of Modern India. A Panoramic Glimpse. New Delhi , 1982. (Unfortunately, this book was not available from the very beginning; pp.l-l5 ought to have been read for our second class).

2. Sources of Indian Tradition (1st ed.!), Columbia University Press, l958.

3. Sources of Indian Tradition. 2nd ed. Volume Two. Columbia University Press , 1988.

4. The Hermit and the Love-Thief. Sanskrit Poems of Bhartrihari and Bilhana. Tr. by B.Stoler Miller. Columbia University Press, 1978.

5. Kalidasa. The Cloud Messenger. Tr from the Sanskrit Meghaduta by F.and E.Edgerton. The University of Michigan Press, l964.

6. The Transport of Love. The Meghaduta of Kalidasa. Tr. and introduction by L.Nathan. University of California Press, l976.

7. Theater of Memory. The Plays of Kalidasa. Ed. by B.Stoler Miller. Columbia University Press , 1984.

8. J.W.von Goethe. Faust. A Tragedy. Tr. by W.Arndt. A Norton critical edition. N.Y., 1976

I. August 29. Introduction.
The history of Indian literature as compared with the history of European literature.

2. September 5. Readings on the general history of Indian literature.
Read: The Literatures of India (Introduction; The Indian Epic); Buddhist Scriptures (Introduction; pp.83-86).

3. September 12. Acvaghosha's "Buddhacarita'and the Bhagavad-gita."
Read: Buddhist Scriptures (Ch.2:pp.34-66); The Bhagavad-Gita, tr. by B.Stoler Miller (Introduction, Translator's Note, Ch.l-6, pp.21-69).

4. September 19. Read: The Bhagavad-Gita (Ch.7-18; please pay special attention to Ch.ll; Afterword); Sources of Indian Tradition, 2nd ed.,Vol.l,Part II (pp.2O3-2l2,2l3-22O,234-237,274-296). Compare the two translations of the Bhagavad-glta.

5. September 26. Sanskrit Poetry.
Read: The Hermit and the Love-Thief (Introduction:pp.3-l9; Bhartrihari: pp.29-1O2); Poems from the Sanskrit (Introduction; pp.5i-94, 111-139); Sources of Indian Tradition, 2nd ed.,Vol.l,pp.254-263.
Compare the two translations of Bhartrihari's poems.

6. October 3. Kalidasa. The Cloud-Messenger (Meghaduta).
Read: the translation by F.and E.Edgerton; the introduction (pp.l-l3) and the commentary to L.Nathan's translation (reading this translation is optional). NB: Nathan's N70 is missing in the Edgertons' translation, hence the difference in numbering after this stanza. Nathan's N67 = the Edgertons' N69 and vice versa.
Read also: The Literatures of India, pp.l2O-l23;l55-l56.

7. October 10. Students' oral presentations of their midterm essays (lO minutes for a presentation and 5 minutes for comments).

8. October 17. Kalidasa. "Cakuntala"
Read: Theater of Memory. The Plays of Kalidasa: pp.85-176; The Literatures of India,pp.8l-99.

9. October 24. Kalidasa's "Cakuntala compared with Goethe's "Faust".
Read: Faust. Part I (More specific references will be given later).

10. October 31. Kabir.
Read: Kripalani,pp.l6-24; Sources of Indian Tradition, 2nd.ed.,Vol.I. Ch.12 (pp,342-378). Other readings will be specified later.

Il. November 7. The 19th century as a period of transition.
Read: Kripalani; pp. 37,46-50 Sources of Indian Tradition. On Rammohan Ray: 2nd ed.,Vol.II,p.15-22,34; 1st ed. , pp.592-595. On Henry Derozio: 1st ed., pp.565-566,569-57l. On Bankimchandra: 1st ed.,pp.7O8-717 or 2nd.ed.,Vol.II,pp.l3O-139 (identical).

12. November 14. Rabindranath Tagore.
Read: Kripalani, pp.38-39; Sources of Indian Tradition, 2nd.ed.,Vo1.II, pp.277-288; (other readings will be specified later).

13. November 21. A.S.Pushkin's novel in verse "Eugene Onegin".
By this time students will be expected to have read the novel.

14. December 5. Vikram Seth's novel in verse "The Golden Gate" as compared with A,S.Pushkin's "Eugene Onegin"
By this time students will be expected to have read both novels.

15. December 12. Students' oral presentations on their course (final) papers. Discussions.


I. The first midterm essay (4-5 pages; to be discussed on October lO).

  1. Acvaghosha's "Buddhacarita" as a biographical narration.
  2. The Bhagavad-gita as a poetic text.
  3. Motif-analysis of Kalidasa's "Meghaduta".
  4. Kalidasa's "Meghaduta" and the tradition of duta-kavyas (for Jyoti Panjwani; additional literature will be provided).

II. The second midterm essay (4-5 pages; to be discussed briefly on November 7).

  1. Sanskrit poetry: its nature/structure as such or as compared with some other poetic tradition(s) better known to the student.
  2. Translating Sanskrit (Indian) poetry (and/or comparing various translations of the same texts).
  3. Kalidasa's "Cakuntalo" and Goethe's "Faust": a comparison.

III The course (final) essay (8-10 pages; to be discussed on December 12 and to be submitted after the course).

  1. Kalidasa's "Cakuntala" and Goethe's "Faust": a comparison.
  2. A. S. Pushkin's "Eugene Onegin" and V. Seth's "The Golden Gate": a comparison.
  3. A comparison of all the four above mentioned works.

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