Query (Digit of the Moon)
ucgadkw at UCL.AC.UK
Thu Aug 14 07:07:13 EDT 2003
Ah! I suddenly realized this must be a Bain book, just before reading
your note, Allen.
I discovered Bain's little books about 20 years ago, and read them with
delight (I have half a dozen or more). I took at face value what he said
about the Pandit's manuscript and thought the whole thing marvellous. It
was disappointing to discover, some years later, that they were "pious
frauds". Too good to be true, really. A British version of what a
Sanskrit story would be like if it were done properly. It's interesting
to reflect on why these stories work so well for the modern reader. I
think the intense romantic feel has a lot to do with it.
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On Wed, 13 Aug 2003, Allen W Thrasher wrote:
> A Digit of the Moon was composed by F. W. (Francis William) Bain,
> 1863-1940, a teacher in India, and was not as he at first pretended a
> translation. He said the earlier ones in his series of imitations of
> the Kathasaritsagara were translations from a ms left him by a pandit
> who was grateful for Bain's nursing him during his fatal illness in the
> Poona Plague. In the introduction to one of the later ones he admitted
> his use of pseudonomy. This and the rest of his life is discussed in
> Keshav Mutalik, "Francis William Bain," Bombay: University of Bombay,
> 1963. His romances were apparently enormously popular in England, the
> U.S., and India, to judge from the large numbe of editions and the
> frequency ones encounters them in used book shops. I think they are
> Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D.
> Senior Reference Librarian
> Southern Asia Section
> Asian Division
> Library of Congress
> Jefferson Building 150
> 101 Independence Ave., S.E.
> Washington, DC 20540-4810
> tel. 202-707-3732
> fax 202-707-1724
> athr at loc.gov
> The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Library
> of Congress.
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