SV: Sanskrit plays on European stages (and elsewhere)

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Fri Nov 13 12:43:50 UTC 1998

Jean-Luc CHEVILLARD wrote:

Where is Bhavabhuti alive?
Where is Kalidasa alive?
Why are they not so very much alive as Shakespeare is?
 (I tend to think this is partly because the field of INDOLOGY
  has been from the beginning confiscated to some extent
  by indo-europeanists but this is of course
  a very partial answer .... :-)
  and not a criticism ;-)

I disagree with that. I think there are two major reasons: 1) India is not part of Europe's own cultural tradition. We still play Euripedes and Sophocles because they are part of our tradition, in spite of the fact that they are very distant to modern man. 2) The grotesquely mismanaged translations of much of Sanskritic literature in general. From most translations, it is impossible to guess that you are dealing with highly sophisticated plays and poems that take on a special kind of magic in their original language. This is where the Norwegian translator of Shakuntala succeeded. He turned exquisite poetry into exquisite poetry, and it worked like a dream!

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
0674 Oslo
Phone: +47 22 32 12 19
Fax:      +47 22 32 12 19
Email: lmfosse at

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