[INDOLOGY] The study of Sanskrit as the epitome of uselessness

Tieken, H.J.H. H.J.H.Tieken at hum.leidenuniv.nl
Tue Mar 24 04:49:04 EDT 2020


Dear List members,

Last night I started reading Ever After by Graham Swift. On p. 3 of the pocket edition (Vintage International) of 1993 we hear the protagonist think:


"Before they [academics] are sixty, they are emulating one of the many varieties: ... the wide-eyed, latter-day infant, helpless in all mundane matters but possessed of a profound understanding of Sanskrit."


A few months ago I was reading Nader tot U (1969) by Gerard van 't Reve gain. One of the characters has to fill in a profession on an official paper. In the end he decides to fill in "indoloog", which is considered to be better than "general in the Hungarian army" or "stratenmaker of zee" (general dogsbody) (p. 113). There is some confusion if indoloog refers to a civil servant in the Dutch Indies here (Indie verloren, rampspoed geboren) or to an indologist, which is later resolved by remarks about gurus and bhakti. I was amazed to see that I had bought the book in the summer of 1970, just a few months before I started with the study of Sanskrit.


Are there more accidental references of this type to sanskritists or indologists in literature?

(Leaving aside Lee Siegel's novel about Professor Roth being killed by Monier-Williams Sanskrit dictionary.)


With kind regards Herman


Herman Tieken
Stationsweg 58
2515 BP Den Haag
The Netherlands
00 31 (0)70 2208127
website: hermantieken.com<http://hermantieken.com/>
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