The Mahabharata and the Ramayana have been known to scholars and readers of world literature for some time, but India’s regional folk epics remain largely un-explored. In a significant study bridging the disciplines of folklore and anthropology, Brenda E. F. Beck extends our knowledge of India’s epic literature by focusing on one particular folk example, the Brothers story, an account of regional settlement history that contains echoes of other South Asian epics. It depicts a distinctive social ideology, expresses a local spirit that challenges some of India’s wider cultural norms, and suggests a popular ambivalence toward Brahman or- thodoxies.
In her opening chapters Beck describes the historical and geographical context of the Brothers story, speculates on how the epic has grown over time, and contrasts an account of the heroes’ death contained in a temple manuscript with reenactments of the same scene at annual temple festivals. The villagers who take part in these ritual per- formances identify so strongly with the story that they themselves appear to experience the main characters’ death and rebirth. Beck then discusses a contemporary bard’s oral presentation for a live audience and details the changes this experienced performer made when he was asked to recite his story to a scribe.
In later chapters she compares the several printed texts available, which range from a paperback edition that first appeared in the 1820s to a poetry rendition published in 1980, and considers the Brothers story in relation to a wider pan-Indian milieu. The final chapter returns to the contrasts between oral and written variants and the possible aesthetic losses entailed in the shift away from the oral tradition.
The Three Twins is the first book in English to analyze a contemporary Indian folk epic, a fascinating genre that is barely known to scholars within India, let alone to the international folklore community.
Brenda E. F. Beck, Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of British Columbia, is author of Peasant Society in Konku: A Study of Right and Left Subcastes in South India and numerous contributions to journals and books concerned with Asian anthropology and folklore.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Item Code: NAS154 Author: Brenda E. F. Beck Cover: HARDCOVER Edition: 1982 Publisher: Indiana University Press ISBN: 02533620145 Language: English Size: 9.50 X 6.50 inch Pages: 256 (16 B/W Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.62 Kg