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A Rasa Reader


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Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgments English Translations of Sanskrit Titles List of Abbreviations Introduction: An Intellectual History of Rasa 1. The Foundational Text, c. 300, and Early Theorists, 650-1025 2. The Great Synthesis of Bhoja, 1025-1055 3. An Aesthetic Revolution, 900-1000 4. Abhinavagupta and His School, 1000-1200 5. Continuing the Controversies Beyond Kashmir, 1200-1400 6. Rasa in the Early Modern World, 1200-1650 English-Sanskrit Glossary Notes Bibliography Index

Promotional Information

This book is the first in any language to follow the evolution of rasa, or taste, the word Indian intellectuals chose to describe art's aesthetics. A Rasa Reader incorporates primary texts by every significant thinker of classical Indian aesthetics, many never translated before, from rasa's origins in dramaturgical thought-a concept for the stage-to its flourishing in literary thought-a concept for the page. This volume's conceptual detail, historical precision, and clarity will appeal to any scholar interested in a full portrait of global intellectual development.

About the Author

Sheldon Pollock is the Arvind Raghunathan Professor of Sanskrit and South Asian Studies at Columbia University. His publications include Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia (2003); The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture, and Power in Premodern India (2006); and World Philology (2015). He is founding general editor of the Murty Classical Library of India, recipient of the Padma Shri award from the Government of India, and fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


A Rasa Reader is the product of enormous erudition in both the Indian and European traditions of the philosophy and science of aesthetics, and it will make a unique and powerful contribution to scholars in several areas. No other work of which I am aware enables even the lay reader to grasp the elusive concept of rasa, its relationship to the psychology of emotion, and the way in which successive authors redefined the meaning and locus of the aesthetic response. -- Robert Goldman, University of California, Berkeley A Rasa Reader marks a serious contribution to scholarship on rasa and promises to shape the field for a long time to come. There is certainly no one work in English or any other language that covers anything like the ground this one does. -- Lawrence McCrea, Cornell University A Rasa Reader is a monumental achievement not only in giving clear translations of difficult Sanskrit texts on aesthetics but also in making complicated arguments comprehensible to the general reader. It is the missing cornerstone in the increasing availability of premodern South Asia literature in reliable translation. It is now possible for the curious reader to find his or her way with some depth into a once impenetrable field. -- Stephen Owen, Harvard University Framed by Sheldon Pollock's magisterial introduction and commentary, A Rasa Reader opens out a panoramic view of one of the world's great aesthetic traditions, whose adherents blend philosophical rigor and poetic insight as they advance, dispute, and refine theories of the nature and effects of artistic expression. Discerning readers of this luminous anthology will 'become intoxicated by it'-as the great poet-critic Dandin said of poetry-'like bees by honey.' -- David Damrosch, Harvard University Pollock recounts the core aesthetic concept of rasa by tracking its transformations, extensions, and exclusions. From its early appearance as a term specific to drama to its flowering as a hybrid concept bringing together emotion, eroticism, cuisine, devotion, authenticity, and response, rasa makes sense of aesthetic experiences but in a way that doesn't and shouldn't reduce to any of its near-equivalents in Greek or German philosophies of the beautiful. Comparative literature gains immensely from this detailed, historically differentiated anthology with its illuminating introduction. -- Haun Saussy, University of Chicago In this bold, comprehensive, and bracing foray into classical India, Pollock confirms his reputation as a pioneering intellectual historian-the rare kind that creates a vast new field of inquiry and scholarship while provoking reappraisals of existing ideas, assumptions, and concepts. -- Pankaj Mishra, author of From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia This much-needed sourcebook in classical Indian aesthetics covers the period from roughly the early part of the Common Era to 1700, with a focus on emotion in art and the famous theory of rasa (a polysemous word that Sheldon Pollock correctly translates in the aesthetic context as "taste")... We should be grateful to Pollock for many years of honest, hard, scholarly work resulting in this excellent, magisterial reader. -- Saam Trivedi Journal of Asian Studies

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