David Lorenzen S. lorenzen at
Thu Nov 16 16:39:08 UTC 1995

	Returning after a short vacation I find most (one is missing) of
the interesting comments on Prof. Doniger's work by Witzel, Wujastyk and
others.  While I mostly try to avoid adding to the voluminous traffic on
the Indology forum I do have a few comments. 

	It seems that perhaps, like many of us, Prof. Witzel is somewhat
envious of Prof. Doniger's status as the current queen of classical 
indology, especially since he, like several others, undoubtedly has a 
better grasp of many (tho not necessarily all) of the indological sources 
she has used in her books.  In my opinion, however, most of his 
comments are rather off the mark.

	Rather than nitpick about her translations for Penguin, it would
have been better for Prof. Witzel to take a look at her many more serious
works.  The best known of these is of course her initial study of Shiva's
myths in the Puranas.  Despite the now dated adornments of Levi-Straussian
theory and Stith Thompsonian motifs, this much cited work still gives us a
very valuable summary and comparative analysis of the different versions
of these myths. I have more problems with the works that followed. 
Without attempting to go thru them one by one, one obvious criticism is
that most attempt to bridge the gap between an eclectic blend of recent
theories and classical indology without being totally convincing on either
end.  One often gets the feeling that she is more interested in being
gracefully and elegantly clever than in conveying a coherent set of
theoretical insights or indological data. As was commented about Isaiah
Berlin in a recent review in the "NY Review of Books", Prof. Doniger
prefers to run with the foxes, who know many things, than sit with the
hedgehog, who knows one big thing.  Still, when all is said and done, most
of us will be lucky to have our work cited in future studies about our
research topics, while before long someone will be writing a Ph.D. ABOUT
Prof. Doniger. 

David Lorenzen
El Colegio de Mexico


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