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Philology and Criticism

A Guide to Mahābhārata Textual Criticism

Vishwa Adluri and Joydeep Bagchee

Philology and Criticism

First comprehensive overview of the critical edition of the Mahābhārata.

Imprint: Anthem Press
ISBN 9781783085767
May 2018 | 1000 Pages | 229 x 152mm / 9 x 6 | 82 Figures + Tables
PRICE:  £120.00  /  $200.00  Buy from Amazon.co.uk  Buy from Amazon.com

About This Book

“Philology and Criticism, published on the fiftieth anniversary of the critical edition’s completion, has been much needed in Mahābhārata studies for the past half-century. Adluri and Bagchee describe how the critical edition’s evidence does not support theories of a prior oral epic or ‘layering’ in the text. Brilliant and persuasive!” –Bruce M. Sullivan, Professor of Comparative Study of Religions, Northern Arizona University, USA

“Philology and Criticism is an essential reference work, the first to explain what the critical edition is. Adluri and Bagchee’s clarification of the critical edition's overarching project is brilliant and makes a lasting contribution to the field.” –Alf Hiltebeitel, Professor of Religion, History and Human Sciences, George Washington University, USA

The Critical Edition of the Mahābhārata, completed between 1933 and 1966, represents a landmark in the textual history of an epic with a nearly 1500-year history. Not only is the epic massive (70,000 verses in the constituted text, with approximately another 24,000 in the Vulgate) verses, but in its various recensions, versions, retellings, and translations it also presents a unique view of the history of texts, narratives, ideas, and their relation to a culture. Yet in spite of the fact that this text has been widely adopted as the standard Mahābhārata text by scholars, there is as yet no work that clarifies the details of the process by which this text was established. Scholars seeking clarification on the manuscripts used or the principles followed in arriving at the Critical Text must either rely on informal scattered hints found throughout academic literature or read the volumes themselves and attempt to follow what the editor did and why he did so at each stage.

This book is the first work that presents a comprehensive review of the Critical Edition, with overviews of the stemmata (textual trees) drawn up, how the logic of the stemmata determined editorial choices, and an in-depth analysis of strengths and drawbacks of the Critical Edition. Not only is this work an invaluable asset to any scholar working on the Mahābhārata today using the Critical Edition, but the publication of an English translation of the Critical Edition by Chicago University Press also makes this book an urgent desideratum.

Furthermore, this volume provides an overview of both historical and contemporary views on the Critical Edition and clarifies strengths and weaknesses in the arguments for and against the text. This book simultaneously surveys the history of Western interpretive approaches to the Indian epic and evaluates them in terms of their cogency and tenability using the tools of textual criticism. It thus subjects many prejudices of nineteenth-century scholarship (e.g., the thesis of a heroic Indo-European epic culture) to a penetrating critique. Intended as a companion volume to our book The Nay Science: A History of German Indology (Oxford University Press), this book is set to become the definitive guide to Mahābhārata textual criticism. As both a guide into the arcane details of textual criticism and a standard reference work on the Mahābhārata manuscript tradition, this book addresses a vital need in scholarship today.

Readership: This is a specialized work, meant for academics working on the Mahābhārata. It may also appeal to graduate and doctoral students as a reference work.

Author Information

Vishwa Adluri has a PhD in Philosophy from the New School and a PhD in Indology from Philipps-Universität Marburg. He is Adjunct Associate Professor of Religion at Hunter College.

Joydeep Bagchee has a PhD in Philosophy from the New School and is a Fellow at the research program Zukunftsphilologie: Revisiting the Canons of Textual Scholarship at the Freie Universität Berlin.

Table of Contents

Preface; Prologue; Introduction; Chapter One Arguments for a Hyperarchetypal Inference; Chapter Two Reconstructing the Source of Contamination; Chapter Three Confusions regarding Classification; Conclusion; Appendices

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