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  • The Forms of Prakrit Literature

    Andrew Ollett

    Chapter from the book: Ollett, A. 2017. Language of the Snakes: Prakrit, Sanskrit, and the Language Order of Premodern India.


    What was Prakrit like? This chapter formulates the phenomenology and aesthetics of this language by analyzing three qualities that readers consistently noted in connection with Prakrit literature: the “sweet syllables” that gave it a distinctive aural texture and musicality, the “quavering verses” that gave it a distinctive rhythm, and the “unbound” character of its verses, which required distinctive reading practices to give them meaning, and which made every Prakrit verse a potential intertext for every other. These qualities can be analyzed in specific formal terms, but they can also be linked to historical developments, and some of those developments—like “Prakritization,” imbuing a text with the formal characteristics of the Prakrit language—could help us better understand the context of Prakrit’s emergence as a literary language.

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    Ollett, A. 2017. The Forms of Prakrit Literature. In: Ollett, A, Language of the Snakes. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.37.d

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    Published on Oct. 10, 2017