Text and Tradition in South India

By Velcheru Narayana Rao
Introduction by Sanjay Subrahmanyam

Subjects: India And South Asian Studies, Literature, History, Cultural Studies, Intellectual History
Series: SUNY series in Hindu Studies
Paperback : 9781438467764, 506 pages, July 2018
Hardcover : 9781438467757, 506 pages, July 2017

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Table of contents

Sources of Publication
Preface and Acknowledgments

Sanjay Subrahmanyam: VNR—Some Introductory Remarks

1. Multiple Literary Cultures in Telugu: Court, Temple,and Public

2. Notes on Political Thought in Medieval and Early Modern South India

3. Purāṇa as Brahminic Ideology

4. Coconut and Honey: Sanskrit and Telugu in Medieval Andhra

5. Multiple Lives of a Text: The Sumati Śatakamu in Colonial Andhra

6. When Does Sīta Cease to be S299ta: Notes Toward a Cultural Grammar of Indian Narratives

7. A Rām257yaṇa of Their Own: Women’s Oral Tradition in Telugu

8. The Politics of Telugu Ramayanas: Colonialism, Print Culture, and Literary Movements

9. Epics and Ideologies: Six Telugu Folk Epics

10. Texture and Authority: Telugu Riddles and Enigmas

11. Buddhism in Modern Andhra: Literary Representations from Telugu

12. The Indigenous Modernity of Gurajada Apparao and Fakir Mohan Senapati

13. Purāṇa

14. A Day in the Life of a Housewife: “Sita Locked Out”

15. Urmila Sleeps: A Ramayana Song that Women in Andhra Sing

Essays on Telugu and South Indian literature and culture by distinguished Telugu scholar Narayana Rao.


Velcheru Narayana Rao's contribution to understanding Indian cultural history, literary production, and intellectual life—specifically from the vantage of the Andhra region—has few parallels. He is one of the very rare scholars to be able to reflect magisterially on the precolonial and colonial periods. He moves easily between Sanskrit and the vernacular traditions, and between the worlds of orality and script. This is because of his mastery of the "classical" Telugu tradition. As Sanjay Subrahmanyam puts it in his Introduction, "To command nearly a thousand years of a literary tradition is no small feat, but more important still is VNR's ability constantly to offer fresh readings and provocative frameworks for interpretation. "

The essays and reflections in Text and Tradition in South India bring together the diverse and foundational contributions made by Narayana Rao to the rewriting of India's cultural and literary history. The book is for anyone interested in the history of Indian ideas, the social and cultural history of South India, and the massive intellectual traditions of the subcontinent.

Velcheru Narayana Rao is Visweswara Rao and Sita Koppaka Professor in Telugu Culture, Literature, and History at Emory University. His many books include a translation (with David Shulman) of Piṅgaḷi Sūranna's The Demon's Daughter: A Love Story from South India, also published by SUNY Press, and Textures of Time: Writing History in South India 1600–1800 (coauthored with David Shulman and Sanjay Subrahmanyam).