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When Mirrors Are WindowsA View of A.K. Ramanujan's Poetics$
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Guillermo Rodríguez

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199463602

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199463602.001.0001

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Watching the Birds and the Watcher

Watching the Birds and the Watcher

(p.24) 2 Watching the Birds and the Watcher
When Mirrors Are Windows

Guillermo Rodríguez

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a cultural contextualization and assesses native or context-sensitive paradigms as valid tools to systematize Ramanujan’s aesthetic and poetic universe. It analyses the adoption of a tripartite model in Indian literary criticism, comprising the marga (pan-Indian Sanskritic), desi (regional), and videshi (foreign) elements, and questions whether this distinction serves to articulate contemporary Indian poetry in English as well as Ramanujan’s own thought. Ramanujan reinterpreted this model in innovative ways in the study of classical, medieval, oral, and contemporary Indian literary traditions, and introduced as alternative models of literature, most prominently the Akam/Puram concentric notions from Tamil poetics, the mother-tongue/father-tongue distinction, and the concepts of context-sensitivity and reflexivity. The last section of this chapter furnishes a brief survey of the diverse aesthetic traditions that Ramanujan was steeped in, ranging from Western aesthetics to Sanskrit aesthetics, medieval bhakti, and classical Tamil tradition.

Keywords:   Indian cultural studies, postcolonial studies, Indian literary history, literary criticism, metacriticism, Indian aesthetics, Sanskrit aesthetics, medieval bhakti poetry, Tamil poetics

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