This anthology offers a view of literary practices across many Indian languages, over several
centuries. The selections show how cultural diversity in India exists through a living mixture
of continuities and transmutations; how, for instance, medieval Sufi or Bhakti poetry is found
amidst the literatures of contemporary India. Dalit, tribal and women's voices are richly
represented in this collection, as are themes of caste, community, gender and composite
culture. The volume aims to overcome the limitations of studying the literature of a single
language or literary tradition by introducing the student to comparative readings, and to
rectify our assigning a privileged status to written literature by including some examples of oral
The anthology has eight units, of which two also touch upon the question of language politics
and hierarchies. Each unit includes a significant theoretical or critical essay to complement the
creative pieces included in the same unit.
This second edition of the book has the latest available information about languages in India.
Sukrita Paul Kumar currently holds the Aruna Asaf Ali Chair at the Cluster Innovation
Centre, University of Delhi. She is a well-known critic, poet and translator, and has published
extensively. Her books include Dream Catcher (2014), Interpreting Homes (2007), Narrating
Partition (2004) and Conversations on Modernism (1990).
Vibha S. Chauhan is Associate Professor, Department of English, Zakir Husain Delhi College.
She is a critic, writer and translator, and is the author of the Hindi novel Ganga Jamuna
Beech (2007) and co-author of the biography Maa Siddeshwari (2000). She has also translated
Ioginder Paul's Urdu novel Paar-Pare into English (Beyond Black Waters, 2007.
Bodh Prakash is Associate Professor at Zakir Husain Delhi College. He is the author of Writing
Partition: Aesthetics and Ideology in Hindi and Urdu Literature (2009), and is currently working
on Nehru's Discovery of India and the idea of diversity.
This anthology offers a glimpse of the vibrant cultural diversity of
India by including selections from varied literary currents flowing
simultaneously in many languages here. Literary traditions in India have
thrived in their continuities, dynamism and transmutations. Whether
a Bulleh Shah or a Mahadeviyakka, they remain visible and survive in
different forms, into contemporary times as lived experience. This book
presents Sufi and Bhakti poetry of medieval times alongside the literary
traditions of modern times.
Dalit, tribal and women's voices, usually offered as exclusive studies,
are included in this volume, to draw attention to the diversity of creative
expression across class, caste and gender, as also, across time and space. By
presenting samples from oral literary traditions, this volume also seeks to
question the hegemony of the written over the oral. A.K. Ramanujan's
retelling of a popular Kannada tale with his scholarly analysis of the
same, included in this anthology, demonstrates the significant role played
by folk tales in the making of popular culture.
The politics of language forms an important theme in the unit on
Hindi and Urdu, while the question of language hierarchies is dealt with
in the unit on 'Writing in English'. The final unit in this anthology focuses
on the literary cultures of two languages-chosen at random-Gujarati
and Sindhi. Each unit in the volume carries a significant theoretical
or critical essay, which complements the three or four creative pieces
included in the rest of the unit.
We hope this anthology will help to overcome the insularity inherent
in studies of a single language or literary tradition.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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