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Rethinking Orient

In Search of Sources and Inspirations


Edited By Adam Bednarczyk, Magdalena Kubarek and Maciej Szatkowski

The contributions in this book address a vast variety of questions concerning the sources and mutual inspirations in Oriental and European literatures. The authors discuss selected texts from both historical and synchronic perspectives. They reveal and scrutinise the sedimented layers in their search for the original as well as for the repetitive and universal. The book revolves around the creative reception of one’s own cultural heritage and of works which originated in other cultures.

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Nala and Damayantī – Indian Epic Love Story in the European Literary Tradition (Iwona Milewska)


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Iwona Milewska

Jagiellonian University Poland

Nala and Damayantī – Indian Epic Love Story in the European Literary Tradition

Abstract: The story of Nala and Damayanti comes from the third book of the Indian epic poem Mahābhārata (Mbh. III.50.1–78.23). It is one of the most famous Indian love stories which were presented to the European public. Its first translations to different European languages come from the very beginning of the 19th century. This early access to the story of Nala and Damayanti has definitely influenced the European reception of India and its literature. Epic heroines and heroes were, and still are, the basis for the European imagination concerning literary characters of ancient Sanskrit origin. The paper’s aim is, first of all, to present a short survey of the European versions of the story. Moreover, I shall try to pursue a detailed analysis of its selected versions. Final conclusions include considerations on the ways in which the knowledge of Nala and Damayanti story has enlarged the European spectrum of literary images as included in the epic literature of India.

Key words: Mahābhārata, Nala and Damayanti, adaptations of the Indian epic, 19th century

One of the Indian epics, the Mahābhārata, includes many sub-stories which can be categorized as love stories. One of them is the story called Nala and Damayantī (abbr. nalopākhyāna – the story of Nala). It is to be found in...

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