A thirteenth-century adaptation of one of ancient India’s most enduring stories, a cornerstone of the Kannada literary canon, translated for the first time into English.
The Life of Harishchandra, Raghavanka’s thirteenth-century masterpiece, is the first poetic rendering of one of ancient India’s most enduring legends. When his commitment to truth is tested by a powerful sage, King Harishchandra suffers utter deprivation—the loss of his wife and son, his citizens and power, and, dearest of all, his caste status—but refuses to yield. The tale has influenced poets and readers through the ages. Mahatma Gandhi traced his own commitment to truth to the impact of a Harishchandra play seen in childhood.
A poet from northern Karnataka trained in the twin traditions of Sanskrit and Kannada, Raghavanka negotiates a unique space for himself in the Kannada literary canon through important thematic, formal, and stylistic innovations. The conflicts he addresses—of hierarchical social order, political power, caste, and gender—are as relevant to contemporary India as to his own times.
Accompanied by the original text in the Kannada script, this spirited translation, the first into any language, brings an elegant and energetic narrative to a global readership.
[This] 13th-century epic by the Veerashaiva poet, Raghavanka, is a path-breaking work in many ways. It is the first Kannada epic to give up Sanskrit meters (vruttas) and narrate the entire epic in a native meter called Shatpadi (a six-line stanza, similar to Spenserian stanza in English)… As a translator, [Vanamala Vishwanatha] has done a remarkable job of recreating the experience of the Kannada epic in English… A brilliant work, faultlessly produced.
The Life of Harishchandra, Vanamala Viswanatha’s lucid, playful and sympathetic translation of Kannada poet Raghavanka’s Harishchandra Kavya, brings this medieval text to rich and vibrant life… Since 2015, a steady trickle of excellent translations has been quietly coloring our literary landscape. The Life of Harishchandra is among the most recent of these.
Raghavanka’s Harishchandra Kavyam [is] rendered into limpid, eminently readable English by Vanamala Viswanatha… [There are] many virtues that grace Viswanatha’s translation of this rich text. Her erudition is obvious; but with it she also shows a fine ear for the poet’s rhythms in her prose translation. Her occasional verse translations evoke the lyricism of the original while her spritely dialogue brings out its surprisingly contemporary dramatic qualities. With prose, verse and drama, her translation acquires an interesting texture, making The Life of Harishchandra a truly remarkable achievement.
- 688 pages
- 5-1/4 x 8 inches
- Harvard University Press
Sorry, there was an error adding the item to your shopping bag.
Sorry, your session has expired. Please refresh your browser's tab.