Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) was born in Bengal but educated in England from his seventh to his twenty-first year, at St.Paul’s School London, and king’s College, Cambridge. Besides English, which was like a mother-tongue to him, he knew several languages and was conversant with the best literature in Greek, Latin, French, Italian, German, Sanskrit and Bengali. For six years (1904-1910) he led the Indian nationalist movement: then withdrew to Pondicherry, south India, where he concentrated on what he has called the integral yoga, an inner development to realise a new consciousness beyond the mental, which would provide the key to the problems besetting human life. He has published books on various themes. Some of the major ones in prose are: the Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, The Ideal of Human Unity, The Foundations of Indian Culture, The Human Cycle, the Future Poetry. His greatest poetic works are Ilion, an epic in quantitative hexameters built on a principle of what would be natural English quantity and Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol, the longest blank verse epic in English, running to nearly 24,000 lines.
K.D.Sethna, himself poet and critic, has linked together Sri Aurobindo’s numerous insights and critical observations on Shakespeare, by a Commentary further expounding and applying them. They may well be regarded as India’s most significant contribution to the understanding and appraisal ok Shakespeare’s genius.
Annamalai University invited K.D Sethna of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the International Centre of Education. Pondicherry, to deliver two talks at their Shakespeare Symposium on September 1-3, 1964. He gave the opening and the closing talks of this quarter-centenary celebration of the poet’s year of birth: “ The Dramatis Personae of Shakespeare.” What was delivered in either case was a part of what had been actually written. For, both the themes had developed far beyond the needs of the occasion. We are presenting in full the development of the second subject, covering all the points lit up by Sri Aurobindo in the work of the Bard. The numerous insights and critical observations of Sri Aurobindo-here linked together by a commentary further expounding and applying them-may well be regarded as India’s most significant contribution to the understanding and appraisal of Shakespeare’s genius.
We thank Annamalai University for letting us include the protions which were delivered at the Symposium.
A few corrections have been made and an Appendix added, containing two references overlooked in the first Edition.
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