The earliest Indian literary histories

Klaus Karttunen klaus.karttunen at HELSINKI.FI
Mon Aug 20 12:53:21 UTC 2012

A few additions from the 19th century:

ARNOLD, J. R.: Pavalar Chariththira Theepakam or the Galaxy of Tamil Poets. 268 p. S.l. 1886 (in Tamil).    
ĀZĀD, Muḥammad Ḥusain: Āb-i Ḥayāt. 1880?, 2nd ed. Lahore 1883, new ed. Lahore 1899 (Water of Life, a comprehensive collection of biographies of Urdū poets, in Urdū).    
BAUMGARTNER, Alexander:  Geschichte der Weltliteratur. (1-6. 1897-1911) Vol. 2. Indien und Ostasien. 1897, 4th ed. 1902. 
CHITTY, Simon Casie (Caiman Kaci Cetti): The Tamil Plutarch. A Summary account of the lives of the poets and poetesses of Southern India and Ceylon, from the earliest to the present times with select specimens of their compositions. Jaffna 1859, 2nd rev. ed. Colombo 1946.
COLEBROOKE, Henry Thomas: "Sanscrit and Pracrit Poetry", As. Res. 10, 1808, 387-474 (8°-edition).    
DE GUBERNATIS, Angelo: Letteratura indiana. 159 p. Milano 1883.
DUTT, Romesh Chunder: The Literature of Bengal, a biographical and critical history from the earliest times. Calcutta 1877 (publ. under the pseudonym “Arcy Dae”), 2nd ed. Calcutta & L. 1895 (under the author’s own name), 3rd rev. ed. Cultural heritage of Bengal. Biographical and critical history from the earliest times closing with a review of intellectual progress under British rule in India. 191 p. Calcutta 1962.
FALLON, Samuel William: Tārīkh-e Shu‘arā-e Urdū. A History of Urdū Poets, chiefly translated from Garcin de Tassy's “Histoire de la Littérature Hindoui et Hindoustani”, by S. F. and Moonshee Kareem oddeen. Delhi 1848.
GARCIN DE TASSY, Joseph Héliodore: Histoire de la littérature Hindoue et Hindustani. 1-2. Paris 1839-47 (1. Biographie et Bibliographie; 2. Extraits et Analyses); 2nd rev. & enl. ed. 1-3. P. 1870-71.
LANGLOIS, Simon-Alexandre: Monumens littéraires de l'Inde, ou Mélanges de littérature sanskrite, contenant un exposition rapide de cette littérature (1-48), quelques traductions jusqu'à présent inédites (Hitopad. 49-84, Bhāg. pur. 85-119, Hariv. 120-238) et un aperçu du systeme religieux et philosophique des Indiens d'après leurs propres livres (239-268). 12+268 p. P. 1827 (compiled from English sources).
MITRA, Rajendra Lal, Raja: The Sanskrit Buddhist Literature of Nepal. 341 p. Calcutta 1882 (Catalogue of the Hodgson collection).
NÈVE, Félix-Jean-Baptiste-Joseph: Les Epoques Littéraires de l'Inde. 515 p. Bruxelles & P. 1883.
WARD, William: Account of the History, Litterature and Religion of the Hindoos, including translations from their principal works. 1-4. 1811, 2nd ed. named A View of the History, Literature and Mythology of the Hindoos: including a minute description of their manners and customs, and Translations of their principal works. 3rd ed. 1817-20, abridged 5th ed. as Account of the Writings, Religion, and Manners of the Hindoos. 1863.     

Many of them I have not seen myself. The list could be added from articles.


Klaus Karttunen
Professor of South Asian and Indoeuropean Studies
Asian and African Studies, Department of World Cultures
PL 59 (Unioninkatu 38 B)
00014 University of Helsinki, FINLAND
Tel +358-(0)9-191 22674
Fax +358-(0)9-191 22094
Klaus.Karttunen at

On Aug 19, 2012, at 11:24 PM, Ulrich T. Kragh wrote:

> Dear Indology List members,
> I am trying to identify the earliest literary histories of Indian literature, in particular the nineteenth-century publications. By "literary history," I mean a history that either attempts to cover Indian literature as a whole or within a particular language, e.g., Sanskrit literature. I do not mean publications that deal exclusively with merely a single or just a few Indian works, since what I am interested in is the writing of broader literary histories per se.
> So far, my list includes F. Max Müller's "The History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature" (1859, though limited to Vedic literature), Robert Watson Frazer's "A Literary History of India" (1898), and Arthur A. MacDonell's "A History of Sanskrit Literature" (1899). In his preface, MacDonell refers to Weber's "Academical Lectures on Indian Literature" (1852-1878) (I haven't yet looked up the original German title, as MacDonell refers only to the book's English translation) and L. von Schroeder's "Indiens Literatur und Kunst" (1887).
> I would like to know whether there is any other early Indian literary history that I have overlooked, and I would also like to know what the first Indian literary history written by an indigenous Indian author is. If by any chance, the history of Indian literary histories has been described in any scholarly publication, I would also be thankful for the bibliographical reference to such a study.
> With best regards,
> Tim
> Dr. Ulrich Timme Kragh
> Research Fellow
> International Institute for Asian Studies
> Leiden University, the Netherlands

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