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The Production of Unpleasurable Rasas in the Sanskrit Dramas of Arya Ksemisvara.

The Journal of the American Oriental Society 2010, July-Sept, 130, 3

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Writing at the Kannauj court sometime around 915 c.e., the dramatist Arya Ksemisvara would have found himself at a remarkable moment in the history of Sanskrit literature. It was a time of great innovation in literary theory, not least of which was a "paradigm shift" from alamkara (figuration) to rasa (emotional flavor) as the fundamental unit of poetic analysis. This was part of a larger unification of poetics (alamkara-sastra) with dramaturgy (natya-sastra)--long-independent intellectual pursuits that would be definitively brought under one umbrella a little more than a century after Ksemisvara's time. At the very heart of these changes lay Anandavardhana's (c. 850) proposal of a new type of signification--suggestion (dhvani)--which, unlike denotation (abhidha) or indication (laksana), was not an isol-able feature of the poetic text, but a phenomenon involving the sensibilities of the literary connoisseur. (1) Anandavardhana's Dhvanyaloka proved to be a landmark text, forcing practically every theorist after him to confront what we, following Roland Barthes, might call the "writerly" nature of rasa. In SIZ (1970) Barthes approached the question of textual interpretation by describing the "writerly" (scriptible) text as one in which the reader must act as a kind of "writer" in order to produce meaning. He distinguished this from the traditional idea of the static, "readerly" (lisible) text, in which the reader may only be a passive receiver of a meaning prefigured by the original (and authoritative) author. In the French intellectual and political context of the 1960s and 70s, the writerly text represented for Barthes and other newly "poststructural" theorists the means through which literature might achieve an emancipatory goal, "to make the reader no longer a consumer, but a producer of the text" (Barthes 1974: 4). (2)

The Production of Unpleasurable Rasas in the Sanskrit Dramas of Arya Ksemisvara.
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  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Social Science
  • Published: 01 July 2010
  • Publisher: American Oriental Society
  • Print Length: 56 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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