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Philology and Criticism

Philology and Criticism

A Guide to Mahābhārata Textual Criticism

By Vishwa Adluri & Joydeep Bagchee

The first book to present a comprehensive review of the Mahābhārata Critical Edition, with overviews of stemmata (textual trees), how the logic of the stemmata determined editorial choices, and an in-depth analysis of the edition’s strengths and drawbacks. An invaluable asset to any scholar working contemplating serious work on the Mahābhārata.

Hardback, 568 Pages

ISBN:9781783085767

June 2018

£120.00, $200.00

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About This Book

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.

Reviews

"Philology and Criticism 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


"In their effort to reject current accounts of the Mahābhārata’s textual history, Adluri and Bagchee introduce several nuanced and updated notions from neo-Lachmannism into the field of Sanskrit textual criticism. I cannot help being delighted at this empirical confirmation of Giorgio Pasquali’s claim that the original of, say, a Chinese or Bantu text cannot be reconstructed unless one follows certain general rules, albeit adapted to the variability and specific requirements of particular texts.”
—Paolo Trovato, Professor of History of the Italian Language, University of Ferrara, Italy


“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. It is the first work 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

Author Information

Vishwa Adluri holds PhDs in philosophy, Indology and Sanskrit from the New School for Social Research, Philipps-Universität Marburg and Deccan College. He teaches at Hunter College, New York, USA.

Joydeep Bagchee has a PhD in philosophy from the New School for Social Research and teaches at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, Germany.

Series

Cultural

Historical and Textual Studies of South Asian Religions

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations; Foreword; Preface; Acknowledgments; Prologue; Chapter Summaries; Introduction Ad Fontes, Non Ultra Fontes!; Chapter One Arguments for a Hyperarchetypal Inference; Chapter Two Reconstructing the Source of Contamination; Chapter Three Confusions Regarding Classification; Conclusion: Textual Criticism and Indology; Epilogue; Appendices; Glossary; Annotated Bibliography; Index.

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