Re: [INDOLOGY] Kathāsaritsāgara 1.1.10-11

Adheesh Sathaye adheesh1 at
Sun Apr 6 20:40:28 UTC 2014

Dear Jacob,

One could also consider also that Somadeva is writing after (and therefore responding to) Kṣemendra; thus could it be that both his usage of the technical term “aucitya” and his comment on the relative value of kathā (narration) vs. kāvya (aesthetic discursus) were directed towards his predecessor? 

On another note related to your query, I’ve always wondered, and perhaps there are new opinions out there, on whether this “original Paiśācī” Bṛhatkathā ever existed. Everyone seems to take it for granted, but is there any actual evidence for its existence as a fixed, circulated text? Or is it simply a very nice meta-story about a storytelling tradition that crossed many language boundaries—including perhaps Persian? 

Best wishes,

Adheesh Sathaye
Department of Asian Studies
University of British Columbia

On Apr 6, 2014, at 13.18, jacob at FABULARASA.DK wrote:

> Thanks to Michael Hahn, Willem Bollée, and Roland Steiner for responding to my query. You have all given me something to think about.
> I am aware of the disputed translation history of the verses as given in Speyer (1908) and Lacôte (1908), but no consensus appears to have been arrived at since then. I am curious to find out whether Somadeva is hinting that he translated the work from the original Paiśācī and/or versified or rearranged its contents. While the former would only confirm what we already suspect, the latter might tell us something new about how he reworked the popular story material he was working with.
> Best wishes,
> Jacob
> Roland Steiner skrev den 2014-04-06 17:35:
>> See also J.S. Speyer: Studies about the Kathāsaritsāgara, Amsterdam,
>> 1908, esp. p. 22 f.:
>> "My interpretation of çl. 11 is different from that of Lévi. This is
>> partly in consequence of a various reading, partly because he
>> misunderstood the meaning of the words aucitya and anvaya. As to the
>> difference of reading, vidhīyate (Durgapr.'s ed.) seems preferable to
>> abhidhīyate (Brockhaus); but in 1886 the ed. of Durgapr. had not yet
>> appeared. Aucitya does not mean 'les convenances littéraires'; it is
>> the technical term to signify 'appropriateness' [p. 23] taken in the
>> widest sense of the word and bearing as well on the different objects,
>> characters, individualities to be represented in a poetical
>> composition as on the adorning implements and the choice of words,
>> expressions and images. Aucityānvaya, then, is the same as
>> aucityānvitatvam, literally 'the being provided with appropriateness'.
>> Lévi also misunderstood kāvyāṃçasya yojanā. Mańkowski rightly objects
>> that the sing. kāvyāṃçasya cannot at any rate mean 'chacune des
>> sections du poème' [...], but his own interpretation, that kāvyāṃça
>> should be referred to some special part of the poem, is right neither.
>> To catch the meaning of kāvyāṃça, it must be compared with devāṃça,
>> aṃçāvataraṇa and the like. Somadeva declares that he does not claim
>> the pretension of making a kāvya out of the Bṛhatkathā, he has only
>> admixed a small portion of kāvya qualities to the simple collection of
>> popular tales. In other terms, aṃça has here the signification not
>> unlike °gandhi at the end of compounds taught by Pāṇini V, 4, 136, 'a
>> tinge of', 'a little of'. My translation of çl. 11 is accordingly: 'I
>> have taken care to preserve the appropriateness (of description,
>> diction etc. of the original work) and I have added to it some
>> qualities proper to a kāvya, without, however, spoiling by this the
>> flavour of the tales', v. a. I have added elegance of style and many a
>> poetical ornament, yet so that I have not deprived the tales of their
>> power to express the rasa's or sentiments aimed at."
>> Best,
>> Roland Steiner
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