Notes for a History of Prakrit Literature

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Friday, March 8th, 2019

Friday, March 8, 20194:00PM - 6:00PM208N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place
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Prakrit was, along with Sanskrit and Tamil, one of the main languages of literature in premodern South Asia. It flourished in the first half of the first millennium BCE, although it continued to be cultivated for many centuries afterwards. This talk will begin by sketching the historical outlines of this tradition and then explain why it is important to corroborate, elaborate, and reflect upon its history. First, Prakrit textuality was closely connected to broader developments in the religious and expressive literatures of South Asia, and gives us a unique perspective onto those developments. Second, the many ways in which Prakrit texts defy being ‘historicized’—verses that slip in and out of anthologies, stories told again and again, works that survive only in fragments or abridgements—actually tell us something important about the historical being of literary texts.

Andrew Ollett is a Junior Fellow at Harvard University’s Society of Fellows. He works on the literary and intellectual traditions of premodern South Asia.


Andrew Ollett
Junior Fellow at Harvard University’s Society of Fellows

Christoph Emmrich
Director, Centre for South Asian Studies


Centre for South Asian Studies

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