[...] Richman's volume brings together versions of Rama katha in Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, and Malayalam (the major languages of South India, excluding English) surrounded by scholarly material. [...] it might be necessary to supplement Richman's volume with R. K. Narayan's highly readable as well as devout retelling in English titled The Ramayana (1972).
23695_09_399-436_r3bj.qxp 11/20/09 11:22 AM Page 406 REVIEWS 1 region of extremely oppressive and violent patriarchy, and romantic love is 2 treated as a social crime. One would think that these contrasts are mineﬁelds 3 for analytical exploration, but the author mentions them without in-depth ex- 4 ploration. She also does not ever question her male performers and audience 5 about these issues—which would not be irrelevant, as oral performers do 6 comment on their social reality. 7 Thus, Susan S. Wadley’s Raja Nal and the Goddess is somewhat outdated in 8 its method and theoretical approach. Although the author tells us about the 9 performers and other assistants who are no more, and some few details about 10 those who are still around, she is mainly concerned with getting the text right 11 and interpreting its characters with reference to the text itself. She realizes that 12 “Dhola lives in performance,” but fails to capture the dynamism of the per- 13 formance context. The waning of long-standing oral texts is not as simple a 14 matter as it is made to seem in this book. The long period of research has prob- 15 ably created important archival materials, which are cited here only minimally. 16 It will, however, motivate the readers to explore the recordings of Dhola and 17 maybe understand what made this epic so popular over such a vast region for 18 a long time. 19 Susan Wadley’s book is a valuable contribution to those beginning their 20 study of North India. For the knowledgeable and the initiated, however, it may 21 not have the same value. 22 Sadhana Naithani 23 Jawaharlal Nehru University 24 25 Ramayana Stories in Modern South India: An Anthology. Edited by Paula 26 Richman. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008. 258 pp. 27 Compiled and edited by Paula Richman, Ramayana Stories in Modern South 28 Asia: An Anthology is a combination of primary texts and secondary criticism. 29 Its aim is to present to the noninitiate the rich tradition of the Rama stories 30 (Rama katha) in modern South India. The primary audience for the book is the 31 North American classroom, where Richman sees her collection being used to 32 introduce students to the narrative and religious diversity of India. In the pur- 33 suit of this objective, Richman presents canonical as well as counter-canonical 34 tellings of Rama katha. A secondary objective seems to be to educate readers 35 about the cultural milieu of South India. Acc
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