About the Book
Shakespeare Turned East is a study in the analogues between Shakespeare's Last Plays and some classical plays of India. In these days of comparative literature, drama and its aesthetic culture provide a natural bridge between East and West. Kalidasa and Shakespeare form the basis of the most dramatic intersection of the roads of culture: a mingling of the musical waves of veena and guitar and the result is something delectable. "Comparative Literature", a generation ago, as a rule, signified study of the influence of one book upon another. Today it signifies much graver considerations. It is the study that examines the differences between the culture, the literature of the world and proclaims their common humanity. It does not deal with textual borrowings but with spiritual comparisons. The Last Plays and Sakuntala. Malavik agnimitra. Uttararamacharita, Vikramorvaliya and others lend themselves to admirable study of comparison in the hands. of the critics. Wallace Stevens’, "the Necessary Angel" blesses them and they with their deep and intimate knowledge of the plays of more than one civilization bring to their study perceptive human understanding their comments are sensitive and challenging, their approach is marked by the detachment of a bystander and the humility of an enquirer: the plays of diverse, cultural and disparate background come alive in their pages and their endeavour is to make the reader go to the plays. At times: Kalidasa and Shakespeare shake hands in agreement across the ages.
About the Author
Henry W. Wells (b. 1895) is a distinguished Orientalist. and a devoted student of poetic drama. He has for many years, lectured on dramatic literature at the Columbia University, where he has also served as Curator of the Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum. He has written widely on the World drama and poetry. As a scholar, he began with English dramatic literature, widened his horizon by writing on drama and poetry of England, America, Canada, India, Japan and China. His studies published in many parts of the world are represented by some of his well-known books, Elizabethan and Jacobean Playwright, Medieval and Tudor Dramas, Poetic Imagery, New Poets From Old, Introduction to Wallace Stevens, The Classical Drama of India, The Classical Drama of Orient, Classical Triptych and Sanskrit plays and has contributed to The Reader's Encyclopaedia of World Drama. He has travelled widely, lectured on art and letters.
H. H. Anniah Gowda (b. 1927) is a Senior Professor of English and the Director of the Centre for Commonwealth Literature and Research. He is the editor of The Literary Half-Yearly. He, like his collaborator, is a student of drama and poetry and his interests are represented by The Revival of English Poetic Drama and Dramatic Poetry from Mediaeval to Modern Times. A reviewer of the latter in The Times Literary Supplement said, "Like Saints bury or WP Ker, Anniah Gowda....appears to have read everything from mediaeval poetry and drama to the most. Modern, or almost the most modern....His book has the quality of gusto." It won him the Mysore University Golden Jubilee award for Arts. He has edited with a contribution, a Festchrift on E M Forster's ninetieth birthday, called A Garland For E M Forster and a collection of papers, Indian Drama. He has published Orwell's Animal Form in Kannada under the title Mrigaprabhutvaanda partly biographical and partly critical book on Robert Frost in Kannada and has translated The Classical Drama of India into Kannada. As a Fulbright and Asian Professor, British Council Visitor he has lectured in many Universities abroad, has attended and given papers at International Conference of Shakespeare Scholars, the Modern Language Association, the Joyce Society and the Commonwealth Conferences.
Henry W. Wells has already placed Westerners in his debt by his translations of three Indian plays in Classical Triptych and Six Sanskrit plays; and H. H. Anniah Gowda, besides being the author of two comprehensive surveys of English poetic drama, is the founder and editor of The Literary Half-Yearly. The two of them have now collaborated in this volume, a fruitful comparison of Shakespeare's final plays with some of the classical plays of India. Shakespearian scholars will profit not merely from what the authors say about Indian plays, they may also find that their views of Shakespeare's Romances will need to be modified. Although, inevitably, there are a number of points on which I disagree, the book as a whole is an admirable attempt to use two different literatures to illuminate each other.
This is a dish prepared by Henry and myself, Henry's share is more than mine and we hope that our readers will enjoy what is offered to them.
In few respects is a broad conspectus of mankind more salutary than in the realization of how much cultures often possess in common that are far removed in time and place. Entirely without direct communication though with surprising frequency they none-the-less show striking likenesses. This is not only because they share basic qualities outlining and defining humanity itself but because in certain specific respects history does indeed appear to repeat itself. Hence an understanding of conditions in one country is heightened and confirmed by awareness of similar conditions in another. A line is drawn between two points. Such study should give perspective and depth upon either end of the comparison. These are the principles upon which comparative studies in the humanities are based. Such investigation need not be in the strict sense of the word genetic. It need not be found that an older culture has directly followed in the footsteps of another. It is of primary interest that two men or two groups of men have, unknown to each other, walked in a common path. This does not, of course, signify that their views are literally identical. It does mean that in vital respects their outlooks are similar and that awareness of this similarity heightens understanding of each.
These are the principles on which the present study is founded. On the one side are Shakespeare's Last Plays often called his "Dramatic Romances" or, to be more explicit, Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale and The Tempest. Some reference will be made to other of the great dramatist's late work, though comparatively rarely.
**Contents and Sample Pages**