Oxford University Press, New Delhi

Retelling the Ramayana: Voices from Kerala

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From the Jacket:

More than any other sacred text, the Ramayana has been interpreted as a blueprint for right human action. Of the innumerable Ramayanas composed, the most prestigious is Valmiki's text.

Across several cultures though, refashioning and retelling Valmiki's influential and patriarchal epic has become a way of literary dissent in the grand tradition of Indian self questioning.

Two such voices from Kerala, included here, showcase the sophisticated cultural diversity of the region. C.N. Sreekantan Nair's play. Kanchana Sita (1961), is about the tragedy of power, and the sacrifices that adherence to dharma demands, including abandoning a chaste wife.

Sarah Joseph's Ramayana Stories (1990s) are feminist critiques of traditional narratives of women humiliated and torn apart - both psychologically and physically - by ambitious men. Joseph's style is layered and poetic, deep and intense. Both Nair and Joseph bring out the political aspects of these stories through the dialectics between victor and vanquished, man and woman, tribal and city dweller, Aryan and Dravidian.

This volume looks at the exemplary ethical deity, Rama, from a woman's point of view. Immensely readable, it will be of interest to students and general readers of South Asian literature, literature in translation, and gender studies.

About the Author:

C.N. Sreekantan Nair (1928-76), one of Kerala's most famous playwrights, experimented successfully with stage direction and concepts of theatre, wrote short stories, and edited literary journals.

Sarah Joseph (b. 1946), activist and creative writer, is a retired professor of Malayalam and Sahitya Akademi awardee.

Vasanthi Sankaranarayanan (b. 1936) is a well-known translator and researcher in film, theatre, and music.

 

CONTENTS

 

Remembering my Father vii
Author's Note xiii
Translator's Note xvii
Introduction 1
Kanchana Sita - A Play 19
Ramayana Stories 95
  Black Holes 97
  Asoka 108
  Mother Clan 117
  What is Not in the Story 126
  Jathiguptan and Janakiguptan 137
Afterword: The Ramayana in Kerala 145
Glossary Kanchana Sita 151
Glossary Ramayana Stories 155

 

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