METATHEATER AND SANSKRIT DRAMA

METATHEATER AND SANSKRIT DRAMA
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Part-I About the Book In 1963, Lionel Abel's book, Metatheatre: A New of Dramatic Form, was published. The basic idea of metatheater is that of multiple 'layers' of illusion. The prefix 'meta-', here, suggets 'beyond', 'above', or 'within'. Metatheater, in one of its senses, can be viewed as one make-believe (dramatic) world superimposed upon another make-believe (dramatic) world. Or as one dramatic world framed within another dramatic world. T...
Part-I

About the Book

In 1963, Lionel Abel's book, Metatheatre: A New of Dramatic Form, was published. The basic idea of metatheater is that of multiple 'layers' of illusion. The prefix 'meta-', here, suggets 'beyond', 'above', or 'within'.
Metatheater, in one of its senses, can be viewed as one make-believe (dramatic) world superimposed upon another make-believe (dramatic) world. Or as one dramatic world framed within another dramatic world. The most easily relationship is the 'play-within-the-play'.

The question might be asked what relevance such a recent topic of literary criticism in the West would have to a study of ancient Sanskrit drama. Each of the six essays in Part One of this book provides an effective answer. In the sixth essay, a translation is given of the passage in the Abhinavabharati, wherein Abhinavagupta comments on the term 'natyayita'. Remarkably, this ancient Sanskrit term is most appropriately translated by the freshly minted English word, 'metatheater'! And it is through an understanding of this 30-year-old English term ('metatheater') that one is able to obtain a revealing insight into what Abhinava was saying one thousand year ago about 'natyayita', term used in the Natya-Sastra, in the section on Sarira Abhinaya, and illustrated by Abhinava with a reference to Subandhu's play, Vasavadatta Natyadhara

The first five essays illustrate how profoundly a knowledge of the metadramatic structure of Sanskrit plays will affect the way in which they are to be understood and translated.

Part two of this book presents the text and translation of, and commentary on, two Sanskrit farces which were written in the seventh century A.D. by the South Indian king, Mahendravarman. These two plays superbly illustrate the multi-dimensional splendor of 'metatheater' in Sanskrit drama.

About the Author

Michael Lockwood and Vishnu Bhat are both faculty members of Madras Christian College, Tambaram.

Dr. Lockwood (Dept. of Philosophy) has written a number of articles on the Pallavas, and has published two books which deal with the art, philosophy and history of the Pallavas: Mamallapuram and thePallavas and Mahabalipuram Studies (co-authored by Dr. Gift Siromoney and Dr. P. Dayanandan).

Dr. Vishnu Bhat (Dept. of English) had much of his early education in a Sanskrit school before receiving his higher degrees in the field of English literature and language. He has collaborated previously with Dr. Lockwook in writing several articale on the inscriptions of the Pallavas.

Preface

In 1963, Lionel Abel's book Metatheatre: A New View of Dramatic Form, was published. In this book Abel introduced a new term: 'Metatheatre'. According to him, 'metatheatre' is the right term to describe the only form possible to the contemporary playwright who wishes to treat a subject gravely. He held that tragedy, invented by the Greeks to describe pain and yet give pleasure, is unrealizable today. In the late Renaissance, a revolution occurred in human consciousness which made tragedy impossible. But playwrights such as Calderon and Shakespeare wrote 'serious' plays which were self-reflexive: the illusion that sustains the play worlds also sustains the world outside the plays - the so-called 'real world'.

Abel's theory of metatheater is not a simple one, and it is, perhaps, better to look at a later analysis of this and related terms: 'metadrama', 'metaplay', etc.

The basic idea of metatheater is of multiple 'layers' of illusion. The prefix, 'meta-', here, suggests 'beyond', 'above', or 'within'. Metatheater, in one of its senses, can be viewed as one make-believe (dramatic) world superimposed upon another make- believe (dramatic) world. Or as one dramatic world framed within another dramatic world. The most easily understandable example of this relationship is the 'play-within-the-play'. Of course, this idea did not come into being in the age of Calderon and Shakespeare. The idea of multiple layers of illusion is as old as theater itself. But it is only since Abel's book was published in 1963 that a whole area of criticism and theory has sprung up in the West under the general heading of , meta theater' or 'metadrama'. Richard Hornby, in his book, Drama, Metadrama, and Perception (1986), has given a clear and concise analysis of different types of 'metatheater/metadrama':

1. The play within the play:
i) The Inset type - the inner play is secondary
ii) The Framed type - the inner play is primary
2.The ceremony within the play:
In all cultures we find plays that contain feasts, balls,
pageants, tournaments, games, rituals, trials, inquests,
processions, funerals, coronations, etc.
3.Role playing within the role:
i) Voluntary, ii) Involuntary, iii) Allegorical
4.Literary and real-life references:
i) Citation, ii) Allegory, iii) Parody, and iv) Adaptation
Self-reference:
The play directly calls attention to itself as a play, an imaginative fiction

The question might be asked what relevance such a recent topic of literary criticism in the West would have to a study of ancient Sanskrit drama. Each of the six essays in Part One of this book provides, we hope, an effective answer. In our sixth essay, we translate the passage in the Abhinavabharati, where in Abhinavagupta comments upon the term 'natyayita. Remarkably, this ancient Sanskrit term is most appropriately translated by the freshly minted English word, 'metatheater'! And it is through an understanding of this 30-year-old English term ('metatheater') that we are able to obtain a revealing insight into what Abhinava was saying one thousand years ago about ‘natyayita’, a term used in the Natya-Sastra, in the section on Sarira Abhinaya, and illustrated by Abhinava with a reference to Subandhu's play, Vasavadatta Natyadhara.

Part Two of this book presents the text and translation of, and our commentary on, two Sanskrit farces which were written in the seventh century A.D. by the South Indian king, Mahendravarman. These two plays superbly illustrate the multi- dimensional splendor of 'metatheater' in Sanskrit drama.

Contents

Prefacev
1.Sanskrit Drama - Its Continuity of Structure1
2.Natya-Yajna (Drama as Sacrifice)11
3.The Victorianization of Sakuntala19
4.Bhasamana-Bhasah or the Case of the Chimerical Kavi33
5.You or Us?37
6.Abhinavagupta's Discussion of Metadrama (c. 1000 A.D.)41
Select Bibliography49
Part-II

Contents

Forewordv
THE FARCE OF THE SAINT-COURTESAN
Introduction3
Text17
Translation19
Appendix A - Royal Titles41
Appendix B - The Dandis42
Appendix C - Types of Drama43
Appendix D - Contemporary Parallels45
Appendix E - Garden List46
Appendix F - Messenger of Death's Route48
A FARCE OF DRUNKEN SPORT
Introduction51
Text.59
Translation61
Appendix G - Royal Titles80
Bibliography81

Sample Pages

































Item Code: IMD20 Author: Michael Lockwood & A. Vishnu Bhat Cover: Hardcover Edition: 1995 Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd. ISBN: 8121506794 Language: English Size: 10.0" X 7.3" Pages: 90 (B & W Illus: 1) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 620 gms
Price: $27.50
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