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Kadambari: A Classic Sanskrit Story of Magical Transformations, tr. by G.L. Layne, illustrations by Virgil Burnett

© Virgil Burnett

           The first complete translation of Banabhatta's Sanskrit prose kavya [kavya translates as "poetry" and thus the genre can be called, in English, "poetic prose narrative"], titled for the heroine, Kadambari, was published by Garland Publishing (New York & London) in 1991. Though referred to as authored by Banabhatta, this writer died before he could complete Kadambari. It was his son, Bhusanabhatta, who finished the narrative, no doubt based on the tale's storyline previously plotted by his father. A rendering into English of just Banabhatta's portion of the text was made at the end of the 19th century by C. M. Ridding, one of the first, if not THE first, English woman Sanskrit scholar and a graduate of Cambridge's women's institution, Girton College. Some forty years later, a Belgian gentleman, Adriaan A.M. Sharpe, did a translation into Flemish of only the son's concluding section of the story, thereby completing the rendering of Kadambari into a combination of European languages. My translation, published by Garland and with accompanying illustrations by the renowned artist, Virgil Burnett, is the first in English of the entire prose kavya. The Garland edition no longer is in print, and Garland itself has been bought out by Routledge, who chooses not to keep this title—and others that comprised Garland's "World Literature in Translation" series—available for purchase. A number of libraries acquired some or all of Garland's "World Literature in Translation" series when it was still for sale. With the help of a bibliographic search engine maintained by the Library of Congress called WorldCat—for "world catalog"—those libraries that house a copy of Kadambari can be located. Anyone interested in this work of literature but not conveniently near one of these libraries or without library borrowing privileges can obtain the entire book, Kadambari: A Classic Sanskrit Story of Magical Transformations, on digital medium. Excerpts from the book linked to the bottom of this page are in .pdf format. One contains the introduction, the other the initial several pages of the translation. Anyone wishing to have the complete translation into English of this classical Sanskrit narrative from the 7th century, please contact me. GLL

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