Text to Tradition

The Naisadhiyacarita and Literary Community in South Asia

Deven M. Patel

Columbia University Press

Text to Tradition

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Pub Date: January 2014

ISBN: 9780231166805

280 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $60.00£49.95

Pub Date: January 2014

ISBN: 9780231536530

280 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $59.99£49.95

Text to Tradition

The Naisadhiyacarita and Literary Community in South Asia

Deven M. Patel

Columbia University Press

Written in the twelfth century, the Naisadhiyacarita (The Adventures of Nala, King of Nisadha) is a seminal Sanskrit poem beloved by South Asian literary communities for nearly a millennium. This volume introduces readers to the poem's author, his reading communities, the modes through which the poem has been read and used, the contexts through which it became canonical, its literary offspring, and the emotional power it still holds for the culture that values it.

Text to Tradition privileges the intellectual, affective, and social forms of cultural practice that inform a region's people and institutions. It also proposes a new way to conduct literary historiography, understanding literary texts as "traditions" in their own right and emphasizing the various players and critical genres involved in their reception. The book underscores the importance of the close study of individual works to building a history of literary cultures. In addition, it creates a groundbreaking model for approaching the study of other venerated South Asian texts.
A treasure trove for Sanskritists.... Text to Tradition opens new doors to thinking about the afterlives of literature in South Asia and about the communities of readers and their interpretive interventions that have shaped and defined Sanskrit intellectual culture. Luther Obrock, Journal of the American Oriental Society
A wonderful monograph.... extremely readable. New Books Asia
[Patel's] interpretive ability is rare among scholars of Sanskrit poetry and rarer still among students of Sanskrit commentary. Patel has produced a rich set of tools to analyze premodern texts and their literary traditions. International Journal of Hindu Studies
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. The Naiṣadhīya's Aesthetic
2. Eight Centuries of Commentary
3. The Naiṣadhīya Interpreted and Overinterpreted
4. Struggles Over the Text
5. Secondary Waves of Reading
6. Legends of the Naiṣadhīya
7. The Tradition Expands to the Regions
Conclusion
Appendix 1: Sanskrit Text of Citations from Commentaries and Narratives
Appendix 2: Encomia (praśasti) to Śrīharṣa and the Naiṣadhīya
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Deven M. Patel is an assistant professor of Sanskrit languages and the literatures of South Asia at the University of Pennsylvania. He writes on literary history, the formation of literary communities, and the broader significance of literature and exegesis as cultural practice in South Asia.