The Four Hundred Songs of War and Wisdom: An Anthology of Poems from Classical Tamil, the Purananuru

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Columbia University Press, 2002 - Literary Criticism - 397 pages
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Two prominent translators present the first complete English-language edition of one of India's greatest works of classical literature: the Purananuru. This anthology of four hundred poems by more than 150 poets between the first and third centuries C.E. in old Tamil -- the literary language of ancient Tamilnadu -- was composed before Aryan influence had penetrated the south. It is thus a unique testament to pre-Aryan India.

Beyond its importance for understanding the development of South Asia's history, culture, religion, and linguistics, the Purananuru is a great work of literature, reflecting accurately and profoundly the life of southern India 2,000 years ago. One of the few works of classical India that confronts life without the insulation of a philosophical facade and that makes no basic assumptions about karma and the afterlife, the Purananuru has universal appeal. It faces the world as a great and unsolved mystery, delving into living and dying, despair, love, poverty, and the changing nature of existence.

To this hidden gem of world literature George L. Hart and Hank Heifetz add a helpful appendix, an annotated bibliography, and an excellent introduction describing the work and placing it in its social and historical context.


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Hello prof,
Excellent sir, explanation of tamil pronunciation in first segment impressed me.
" ...continuing until today, the ideal king has been a hybrid figure." Refers Whom?



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Page xxxv - Sirupanarruppatai' means a poem of shorter length guiding the panan (the bard) who plays on a yazh (lute). Arruppatai is a literary genre in Tamil. It is a form of panegyric, generally in akaval metre...
Page xxxiii - Tamil Brahmi Inscriptions of the Sangam Age," in Proceedings of the Second International Conference Seminar of Tamil Studies, ed. RE Asher, 2 vols.
Page xiv - Every city is your city. Everyone is your kin. Failure and prosperity do not come to you because others have sent them! Nor do suffering and the end of suffering. There is nothing new in death. Thinking that living is sweet, we do not rejoice in it. Even less do we say, if something unwanted happens, that to live is miserable! Through the vision of those who have...

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About the author (2002)

Joseph Roach is professor of English at Tulane University. He is the author of The Player's Passion: Studies in the Science of Acting, which won the Barnard Hewitt Award, and coeditor, with Janeele Reinelt, of Critical Theory and Performance.

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