The Four Hundred Songs Of War And Wisdom

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Overview

Two prominent translators present the first complete English-language edition of one of India's greatest works of classical literature: the Purananuru. This anthology of four hundred poems by more than 150 poets between the first and third centuries C.E. in old Tamil -- the literary language of ancient Tamilnadu -- was composed before Aryan influence had penetrated the south. It is thus a unique testament to pre-Aryan India.

Beyond its importance for understanding the development of South Asia's history, culture, religion, and linguistics, the Purananuru is a great work of literature, reflecting accurately and profoundly the life of southern India 2,000 years ago. One of the few works of classical India that confronts life without the insulation of a philosophical facade and that makes no basic assumptions about karma and the afterlife, the Purananuru has universal appeal. It faces the world as a great and unsolved mystery, delving into living and dying, despair, love, poverty, and the changing nature of existence.

To this hidden gem of world literature George L. Hart and Hank Heifetz add a helpful appendix, an annotated bibliography, and an excellent introduction describing the work and placing it in its social and historical context.

Columbia University Press

2002 A. K. Ramanujan Book Prize for Translation

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of Asian Studies - Martha Ann Selby

This unique translation... is undoubtedly George L. Hart and Hank Heifet'z most successful collaboration to date.

Contemporary South Asia - Kokila Ravi

Eminent scholar George L. Hart and gifted poet Hank Heifetz have transcreated for English readers the ancient Tamil classic Purananuru, a compilation of poems composed about two thousand years ago by more than a hundred and fifty poets... While accurately capturing the quintessential beauty of poetic Tamil, the authors successfully evoke an authentic aura of the culture, geography, glimpses of history, and everyday life of the ancient Tamils.

Journal of Asian Studies
This unique translation... is undoubtedly George L. Hart and Hank Heifet'z most successful collaboration to date.

— Martha Ann Selby

Contemporary South Asia
Eminent scholar George L. Hart and gifted poet Hank Heifetz have transcreated for English readers the ancient Tamil classic Purananuru, a compilation of poems composed about two thousand years ago by more than a hundred and fifty poets... While accurately capturing the quintessential beauty of poetic Tamil, the authors successfully evoke an authentic aura of the culture, geography, glimpses of history, and everyday life of the ancient Tamils.

— Kokila Ravi

R. Parthasarathy
This translation of the Purananuru by a distinguished Tamil scholar and a noted poet is unlikely to be rivaled for a long time to come. It is a remarkable achievement, at once eloquent and immensely moving, and deserving of unstinting praise.
Booknews
Hart (south and southeast Asian studies, U. of California-Berkeley) and translator Heifetz offer the first complete English-language edition of the work of Indian classical literature. The anthology represents over 150 poets writing in old Tamil, the literary language of ancient Tamilnadu some 2,000 years ago. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231115636
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 8/15/2002
  • Series: Translations from the Asian Classics Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 436
  • Product dimensions: 0.89 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

George L. Hart is a professor in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of

California, Berkeley.

Hank Heifetz is a poet and translator from the Spanish, Sanskrit, and Tamil.

Columbia University Press

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