Why Fiction Works: A Perspective from Sanskrit Poetics
One of the cornerstones of Sanskrit poetic theory is the recognition that the „reality” enacted in a drama or embodied in a poem is fictive. Sanskrit poeticians also completely rejected the notion of Mimesis as a basis for describing what happens in these fictive settings. How, then, does the artistic production succeed in producing far-reaching transformations in the spectator or listener/reader? For, if the performance succeeds, the person who leaves the theatre is not the same person who entered it. Such a question is bound up with a second one that has to do with the understanding of „truth” as distinct from what is „real”. The medieval poeticians have their own way of defining the peculiar amalgam of real and unreal that constitutes a poetic world. We will look at some examples of this understanding as it is worked out in classical verses.
David Shulman is Professor of Indology and Comparative Religious Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He received his Ph.D from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
His many publications on Tamil and Sanskrit literature and mythology include: The Wisdom of Poets: Studies in Tamil, Telugu, and Sanskrit (2001); as co-author and co-editor: Self and Self-Transformation in the History of Religions (2002), Siva in the Forest of Pines: An Essay on Sorcery and Self-Knowledge (2004), God on the Hill. Telugu Songs by Annamayya (2005), The Demon’s Daughter: A Love Story from South India (2006).