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More than Real

More than Real

A History of the Imagination in South India

David Shulman

ISBN 9780674059917

Publication date: 04/09/2012

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From the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, the major cultures of southern India underwent a revolution in sensibility reminiscent of what had occurred in Renaissance Italy. During this time, the imagination came to be recognized as the defining feature of human beings. More than Real draws our attention to a period in Indian history that signified major civilizational change and the emergence of a new, proto-modern vision.

In general, India conceived of the imagination as a causative agent: things we perceive are real because we imagine them. David Shulman illuminates this distinctiveness and shows how it differed radically from Western notions of reality and models of the mind. Shulman's explication offers insightful points of comparison with ancient Greek, medieval Islamic, and early modern European theories of mind, and returns Indology to its rightful position of intellectual relevance in the humanities.

At a time when contemporary ideologies and language wars threaten to segregate the study of pre-modern India into linguistic silos, Shulman demonstrates through his virtuoso readings of important literary works—works translated lyrically by the author from Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam—that Sanskrit and the classical languages of southern India have been intimately interwoven for centuries.

Praise

  • The patient unraveling of the complex articulations of select Indian poets and commentators is the job that David Shulman has undertaken in this pioneering effort towards the production of a history of the imagination in South India... Apart from advancing a thesis about early modern south India and the attainment there of a transfiguration comparable to the Italian Renaissance (which is in keeping with much of his earlier work), Shulman interprets for us some of the major works of the pre-modern period in relation to both other works of world literature, such as those by Montaigne or Vico, and to modern critical attitudes. We are once again joined then to the 'simple trembling life' of the image on the page, marveling at the modernity of the ancient and early modern imagination, as it leaps out of its contexts and finds its place in Shulman's argument with a luminous and, crucially, a present-day life of its own.

    —Rosinka Chaudhuri, Times Literary Supplement

Author

  • David Shulman is Renee Lang Professor of Humanistic Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Book Details

  • 352 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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