98 pages | 5 1/4 x 8
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512809732 | Buy from De Gruyter $79.95 | €69.95 | £70.50
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An Anniversary Collection volume
A great deal can be learned about a given civilization through its literature. The living image of a people—acting and thinking, of themselves. and of the world as they see it—can only be apprehended by the creative productions of a nation's best minds. Thus students of Indian civilization and culture who cannot afford to overlook its literature will find in this book a way to approach the Indian spirit through the work of Indian authors.
Fiction in India, particularly the novel, is a product of Western influences. As a literary form, the novel, with its emphasis on character analysis and related plot, is not native to the Indian temperament. Nevertheless, during the last fifty years, India has produced a wealth of fine fiction : novels and short stories, sketches and satires. In this book, Dorothy M. Spencer has selected and annotated some three hundred items for the ethnographical and cultural material they can be made to yield. English translations, works written directly in English, and translations from the various regional dialects have been included—on the whole a rather sweeping cross-section of Indian literary creativity.
With the aid of Spencer's notes, the student can decide which of the works deal with specific attitudes and values that are of interest to him. The sociologist interested in institutions and interpersonal relations, in the beliefs and ideas regarding the Indian character held by the people themselves, the philosopher concerned with the Indian world-view, the anthropologist, and the political scientist will find an abundance of material in these pages to heighten his appreciation of Indian culture. The attitudes toward social institutions and fixed relationships, the family, the place of women as mothers and sisters, the caste-system—all the intricacies of a civilization's development can be revealed to the perceptive student.
Naturally enough, fiction in India has also dealt with political and social themes. In this connection, autobiographies and propagandistic or moralistic novels are most useful. Both have been included in this bibliography, as well as historical novels, a genre which, though it has recently fallen into disfavor, is one of the most fruitful sources for an investigation of the Indian past.
More than a comprehensive guide to Indian fiction and autobiography, this volume is also a fine introduction to Indian culture, suggesting and developing directions which a study of India may take. It will be helpful and important to all scholars in the humanities and social sciences who are concerned with understanding the people and way of life of an ancient land that has recently taken great strides into the modern era.
Dorothy M. Spencer was Visiting Lecturer in the Department of South Asia Regional Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.