David Shulman and Velcheru Narayana Rao offer a groundbreaking cultural biography of Srinatha, arguably the most creative figure in the thousand-year history of Telugu literature. This fourteenth- and fifteenth-century poet revolutionized the classical tradition and effectively created the classical genre of sustained, thematically focused, coherent large-scale compositions. Some of his works are proto-novellas: self-consciously fictional, focused on the development
of characters, and endowed with compelling, fast-paced plots. Though entirely rooted in the cultural world of medieval south India, Srinatha is a poet of universal resonance and relevance.
Srinatha: The Poet who Made Gods and Kings provides extended translations of Srinatha's major works and shows how the poet bridged gaps between oral (improvised) poetry and fixed literary works; between Telugu and the classical, pan-Indian language of Sanskrit; and between local and trans-local cultural contexts. Srinatha is a protean figure whose biography served the later literary tradition as a model and emblem for primary themes of Telugu culture, including the complex relations between
sensual and erotic excess and passionate devotion to the temple god. He established himself as an ''Emperor of Poets'' who could make or break a great king and who, by encompassing the entire, vast geographical range of Andhra and Telugu speech, invented the idea of a comprehensive south Indian
political empire (realized after his death by the Vijayanagara kings).
In this wide-ranging and perceptive study, Shulman and Rao show Srinatha's place in a great classical tradition in a moment of profound cultural transformation.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 216
Weight: 450 g
Dimensions: 237 x 162 x 17 mm
It is impossible to slap a label on this book. It begins as a biography (a rare genre for this culture) of Srinatha , a poet who lived in Andhra, in South India, in the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. But then it goes on to combine hardheaded historical contextualization with a generous appreciation of the rich web of legends about Srinatha, all informed by lyrical translations and brilliant readings of his poems.... The works of Srinatha , like this work
of Shulman and Narayana Rao, are playful, rejoicing in comic incongruity and exuberant excess, no holds barred. The authors rightly insist that you do not need to know Telugu to read this book and that readers will recognize here much that resonates with their knowledge of other great literatures.
It's a great read. * Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions, University of Chicago *