Shakespeare and Asian Classics

Encounters in India

Authored by: Poonam Trivedi

The Routledge Research Companion to Shakespeare and Classical Literature

Print publication date:  April  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9781472417404
eBook ISBN: 9781315613550
Adobe ISBN: 9781317041689


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It may seem curious but, among all the Indian languages, none had an indigenous term equivalent to the word ‘classic’ until the coming of colonialism and contact with Western literature beginning in the late eighteenth century. They all adopted and adapted the English word in varying phonetic inflexions to incorporate, not just the word, but also the concept. The notions of the ‘classic’ and ‘classical’ were imported into Indian literary cultures to deal with the impact of Western literature. Yet these notions simultaneously defined and created a ‘classical canon’ in and for the Indian languages, as it were, through the efforts of Oriental scholarship. Prior to this, conditions peculiar to Indian literary culture militated against such a clear demarcation between the old and the new.

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