Loads of Learned Lumber

Monday, January 18, 2010

Narayan, _The Ramayana_

WELL, YES, I really should have read a translation of the complete original Sanskrit version. Maybe someday. This version, written in English by the 20th century novelist R. K. Narayan, is not even based on that Sanskrit original; it jumps off from a version written in Tamil by the poet Kamban in the 11th century C.E. So no authenticity points for me. That concession made, I found this a marvelous book, witty, highly colored, brisk, charming, utterly engaging. Given the likelihood of my bogging down at p. 43 of whatever late-Victorian translation I would likely have been able to procure at the library, I think I made a good call in picking this up. The effect is rather like reading Edith Hamilton -- if Hamilton had brought in a few sly jokes and had risked a Fielding/Gogol kind of intimacy with the reader.

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