Language of the Snakes: Prakrit, Sanskrit, and the Language Order of Premodern India

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Univ of California Press, Oct 3, 2017 - History - 308 pages
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Language of the Snakes traces the history of the Prakrit language as a literary phenomenon, starting from its cultivation in courts of the Deccan in the first centuries of the common era. Although little studied today, Prakrit was an important vector of the kavya movement and once joined Sanskrit at the apex of classical Indian literary culture. The opposition between Prakrit and Sanskrit was at the center of an enduring “language order” in India, a set of ways of thinking about, naming, classifying, representing, and ultimately using languages. As a language of classical literature that nevertheless retained its associations with more demotic language practices, Prakrit both embodies major cultural tensions—between high and low, transregional and regional, cosmopolitan and vernacular—and provides a unique perspective onto the history of literature and culture in South Asia.
 

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Contents

The Languages of Power
26
The Languages of Literature
50
The Forms of Prakrit Literature
85
Figuring Prakrit
111
Knowing Prakrit
141
Forgetting Prakrit
169
Appendix A
190
Appendix C
205
Bibliography
259
Index
297
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About the author (2017)

Andrew Ollett works on the literary and intellectual traditions of premodern India.

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