3 | 2017
Indian Birth and Western Rebirths of the Jātaka Tales

The editors would like to thank the following institutions:

  • The Regional Council of Île de France.
  • The Embassy of India.
  • The Research Commission of the University of Paris 13, Sorbonne Paris Cité.
  • The Faculty of Law, Social and Political Sciences and the Centre forStudies and Research in Administrative and Political Sciences (CERAP), University of Paris 13, Sorbonne Paris Cité.
  • The Centre for Research on English Studies (CREA) of the University of Paris West Nanterre and the Centre for Research on Space/Writing (CREE) of the University of Paris West Nanterre.
  • The Team of Interdisciplinary Research on Cultural Areas (ERIAC) of the University of Rouen Normandy.
  • and the Society for Activities and Research on the Indian world (SARI).

for their generous support for this project.

Couverture de
  • Michel Naumann, Ludmila Volná et Geetha Ganapathy-Doré  Introduction

Rewritings of the Jātaka Tales in Colonial and Postcolonial Texts

The Paradoxes of Realism: Martin Wickramasinghe and The Jātakas in Sinhala Literature1

Anupama Mohan


Martin Wickramasinghe (1890-1976), often called the Bard of Sri Lanka, had a long writing career spanning many decades and was also concerned with the dynamics of the changing village in Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was called until 1972). Along with Ediraweera Sarachandra, Wickramasinghe was at the forefront of literary realism in the 20th century: his book Landmarks of Sinhalese Literature (1948) established a pioneering model of criticism for social realism that was to influence several writers for many decades in Sri Lanka. It was a model that tied in with Wickramasinghe's anti-colonial politics and one of the central essays in Landmarks was on The Jātakas upon which Wickramasinghe drew in order to examine the modes of realistic writing that he felt best represented Ceylonese life and culture. And yet, it is a curious paradox that, in his own novels, Wickramasinghe never employed the kind of realism he extolled in The Jātakas, taking for his own model the psychological realism of European masters, especially the Russians. What explains this paradoxical approach to social realism as a representational mode? Indeed, how does one examine the question of Wickramasinghe's literary style which straddles the European and the Ceylonese? This article explores Wickramasinghe’s own discussion of specific Jātaka tales in order to understand what constituted for him the locus vivendi of Sinhala literature in the middle of the last century. It is a template that provides a compelling counterpoint to the adaptive examples one finds in India, where The Jātakas remained at the peripheries of the question of realism. Instead, in Indian literatures (in English as well as Hindi and Malayalam, two of the more established vernacular languages), realism took on very different functions. This article attempts to create an orbital reading of these multiple traditions bearing upon the pivotal legacies of The Jātakas.

Texte intégral

Sinhala Literature and Martin Wickramasinghe

1Sinhalese literature of the 20th century has centered on the village as the locus vivendi of Ceylonese life and the role of Martin Wickramasinghe in this regard has been unparalleled. His life traverses a wide spectrum of Ceylonese history, and his writings record the vast changes from feudal to colonial to postcolonial that Ceylon underwent in the intervening decades. Wickramasinghe was a prolific writer whose interests lay in a diversity of fields: natural and social sciences, literature, linguistics, philosophy, education, Buddhism and other religions. Much of his fictional writing took as its centre the folk life and folk culture of Ceylon, and the struggle between the changing classes can be said to be a central theme in his entire corpus of writing. He is known in particular for the trilogy beginning with Gamperaliya (1944; English translation Uprooted2 2009), Yuganthaya (« The End of the Era » 1949; forthcoming in English translation as The Village and the City), and Kaliyuga (« The Epoch of Kali » 1957; forthcoming in English translation as The City). Gamperaliya is widely considered as the first Sinhalese novel « with a serious intent that compares, in content and technique, with the great novels of modern world literature » and is generally seen as « a seminal work and a point of reference in the evolution of contemporary Sinhala fiction. » (Abeysekara, « Today »)

2In the topoi of manorial life, Wickramasinghe locates the transformations of which the novel is a representation as well as a critique. Unlike the essentialized portraits of Ceylonese peasants in Leonard Woolf’s fatalistic novel The Village in the Jungle (1913), Gamperaliya has a wide range of characters whose diversity challenges Woolf’s essentialized representation of the « average » Ceylonese villager. It has been ubiquitously extolled for its realism that is, as Wimal Dissanayake writes in his Preface to Uprooted, « understood not as a transparent medium but a site for critical reflection and evaluation. In the best realistic novel, the trajectories of individual growth and destiny and social growth and destiny are inextricably intertwined, and Wickremasinghe establishes this point forcibly in the novel » (1). Indeed, Wickramasinghe’s stature in the canon of 20th century Sinhala literature is determined by the role he played as Ceylon’s organic intellectual, as « the man who through his writings, led a heroic struggle to restore the culture of the common people of this land to its rightful place » (Abeysekera).

3Martin Wickramasinghe’s novelistic configurations of the Ceylonese village played a powerful ideological function in the creation of a village-based indigeneity; as Stanley Tambiah puts it, Wickremasinghe,

[t]he greatest Sinhalese novelist of this century… is credited with [the] formula of Sinhala cultural identity: vava (tank), dagaba (temple), yaya (paddy field). So important is this imprint that both in novels and television dramas, the impurities and immoralities of current urban life are uncritically castigated, while out there in the newly created peasant settlements and colonies, in the sites of ancient glory such as Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, might be found the ideal harmonious life. The new colonization schemes hold the prospect of regaining the lost utopia (Buddhism Betrayed, 109-110; my italics).

4When Wickramasinghe wrote Gamperaliya, just four years before Ceylon’s independence in 1948, the emphasis on the rural and the indigenous provided a powerful evocation of a precolonial identity, all the more precious given that, unlike India at the same time, Ceylon did not go through an intense anticolonial movement against British rule (Goonetilleke 11). Leonard Woolf’s rather unflattering picture of a Ceylonese village was the only (in)famous portrayal of Ceylon in the imperial literary market-place, and Gamperaliya is impelled, at least in its design, by Wickramasinghe’s desire to present to the global reader a different Ceylon, a more « authentic » Ceylon.

Wickramasinghe and the Paradoxes of Realism

5From this perspective, one sees the ways in which the most admired quality of Gamperaliya, its realism, seen most vividly in its construction of the Sinhalese village, Koggala, and in the representation of rural life, was in Wickramasinghe’s own time a strategically anticolonial construct, and which in the subsequent politically-charged climate of postcolonial Ceylon proved ripe for adoption into an expressly Sinhala nationalist discourse. Central to the novel’s vision of rural collectivity is the idea(l) of realism, and the valorization of realistic representation is a crucial factor in the novel’s status as « the best novel in Sinhalese, with a village background » (Sarachchandra, The Sinhalese Novel 140). E. R. Sarachchandra’s role in the history of Sinhalese literary criticism is a major one and he has often been credited with the elevation of Gamperaliya as the foremost fictional account of rural Ceylon. Sarachchandra praised the novel for « its authentic depiction of peasant society in Sri Lanka and the sureness with which the imported art form of the novel was allowed to develop along indigenous tracks of sensibility » (The Sinhalese Novel 23). Wickramasinghe himself diverged from Sarachchandra on important principles regarding the nature and origins of the modern Sinhala short story3, but they both more or less agreed on the principle of realism itself as a measure of « good » literature.

6Wickramasinghe’s choice of the rural as the setting for Gamperaliya was predicated on his tacit agenda for constructing in an anticolonial vein (as Rao did in Kanthapura) a uniquely Ceylonese indigeneity and on his configuring a specific kind of realism whose basis he (in contradistinction to Sarachchandra) could find in pre-modern Sinhala-Buddhist narratives that he championed all his life. The precise nature of realism (or its lack) in pre-modern Buddhist narratives is outside the scope of this study4, but an exploration of Wickramasinghe’s conception of realism sheds light on the motivations behind the construction and re-presentation in Gamperaliya of the purportedly utopian (Sinhala) village.

7A quick glance at Wickramasinghe’s essay on the Jātakas compiled in his historical work Landmarks of Sinhalese Literature (1948) provides a clue to the kind of realism he thought valuable and worth recognition. The Jātaka Tales refer to a large body of folk literature (numbering to about 547 tales) native to India concerning the previous births (jāti) of the Buddha5. As Richard Cohen defines, « Jātaka is a generic term for the stories of Shakyamuni’s [the Buddha’s] births while he was a bodhisattva [on the path to enlightenment]… Probably from the time of the Shakyamuni himself, jātaka stories have provided monks and lay folk alike with an imaginative basis for conceiving what it means to train for buddhahood » (211).

8For Wickramasinghe, the Sinhalese Jātakas present a « landmark » in the literature, for they eschewed the « punditisms of literary Sinhalese » and adopted « a spontaneity and ease which the classical language did not possess » (125). The result was, he notes, a « simplicity of language… [and] a narrative style that was hardly ever excelled in [Sinhala] literature till modern times » (125-6). He further extols

the subject-matter of the Jātakas [that] was drawn from the raw material of life, though in a different country [India], in conditions not essentially different from ours (126).

9This « rawness » is, in fact, vital to his conception of the ideal realist idiom: « The Jātakas give us a picture of life in the raw, as the authors found it in the villages of North India, painted artlessly and faithfully by people whose wisdom was ripened by a knowledge of the world. Hence they are our earliest specimens of realistic literature, and have no rival, in this respect, in the entire field of ancient writing » (128).

10The essay’s discussion of a few particular Jātakas, however, creates a completely different picture than the one Wickramasinghe presents: each of the tales he retells is emplotted on themes of violence, torture, sexual promiscuity, and excesses of temperament and action. Among the particular tales Wickramasinghe recounts are the Dharmapāla Jātaka where a king incensed by the love he sees his queen shower upon their newly-born son has the child tortured to death, whereupon, the queen dies in grief; the Ksāntivada Jātaka where a sexually dissolute king tortures an ascetic to death for luring his harem-maidens away by his preaching; and the Asāntamanta Jātaka where an old woman enamoured of a young pupil of her son’s attempts to kill her son so she may live happily with her young man. There is, in the tales themselves, little sight of the « realistic subject-matter » that Wickramasinghe finds a laudable literary accomplishment, and it appears to be a spurious critical logic that argues that « [t]he early Buddhist fashioners of these Jātakas deserve credit for taking up an independently critical attitude towards the rash and selfish deeds of even kings. It is seldom that we see such independence in the later writers of Brahmin literature » (130). Or that « that the writer should have had the courage to record such a flagrant breach of morality shows his first-hand knowledge of life, and his desire to be faithful to it » (130).

11In sum, it is by a sleight in critical logic that, despite adumbrating only the most outrageous of the Jātakas with every conceivable excess as the central thematic concern of the story, Wickramasinghe can yet affirm the « realism » of the work:

The Jātakas laughed at all institutions, at women and men, good as well as bad, at Brahmins and monks and ascetics. They smiled at the hypocrisy of the conventional virtues, much in the manner of a modern author… They are not primitive myth, as popularly supposed, embodying the repressed wishes of a nation, nor are they fairy tales distorting the facts of life and dealt out as dope to the masses to compensate for their miserable lot on earth. The Jātakas portray life fearlessly, as it is, and seek to make people good by holding up to their view a close-up of reality… They educate, not by providing model worlds and model men and women, but by holding up to view the stark realities of life, by showing the ill-effects of uncontrolled passion on society and the moral order (136-8; my emphasis).

12Additionally, diverging from Sarachchandra in his insistence on the indigenous origins of modern Sinhala prose (that were to be found, he argued, in the Jātakas, primarily), Wickramasinghe sought to further bolster his assessment of pre-modern Sinhala literature by a comparison with European writing:

When Dr. Sarachchandra wrote his book [Modern Sinhalese Fiction] he did not take into account that some Jātaka stories had some elements of realist novel of 18th century England. He considered Buddhism and ancient Sinhala literature to be lower, and discarded Jātakas as mere folktales. So it is not surprising that he concludes that the Sinhala novel was borrowed from Sanskrit narratives and from the Western novel (qtd. in Liyanage 5n).

13Furthermore, he argued that « the depiction of psychic complexities of the human mind in the Jātaka stories is compatible with the psychological realism of great novelists like Fyodor Dostoyevsky » (Liyanage 6). What he chose to disregard or overlook were the many differences in the two kinds of realism he was trying to yoke together, not without a degree of critical violence. For the realism of the Jātakas is a far cry from the historical discourses of secular and rational thought that undergirded 19th century European realism, and ironically Wickramasinghe, who chose to highlight comparisons and consonances in themes and some stylistic aspects between the two, rarely deployed in his own long career any stylistic/literary devices unique to the Jātakas or other Buddhist prose narratives. It is an irony Liyanage records with a degree of wryness: « Despite being a prolific literary critic, [Wickramasinghe] never discussed how Buddhist narrative structures could be used in modern fiction. Even when he wrote his last book, a fictional biography of the Buddha, Bhavataranya (1976), he firmly stayed with realism producing a social realist narrative of the Buddha’s life » (262). Sarachchandra too, with the exception of one novelized retelling of a Jātaka tale, chose in his creative fiction to endorse the kind of realism that he championed in Wickramasinghe. Together, their writings and critical commentaries paved the way for the dominance of social realism as the keynote of post-Independence writing in Sinhala6.

14The attempt to assert « realism » in the Jātakas comes at the cost of negating and overlooking many anti-realistic features. The focus in the Jātakas on quotidian lives, on a wide diversity of themes, and the absence of the supernatural or of deus ex machinas in the telling does mark an important difference from « The Arabian Nights [that] are tales of fancy and imagination, and Sanskrit tales [that] are romances couched in language equally romantic » (Landmarks 127); however, it is also important to note that the metanarrative of Hindu/Buddhist philosophy and the generally didactic and edifying function of the Jātakas firmly ties these stories to a religious framework in ways quite distanced from Wickramasinghe’s other model of the realist method – the social realism of 19th century European writers that was rooted in post-Enlightenment secular thought and philosophy. It is this latter kind of realist narration that in his own writing Wickramasinghe was attracted to, and it is noteworthy that in his first novel, Gamperaliya, there is no hint of the kind of realism he praised in the Jātakas. Indeed, a rather Victorian conservatism rules the major love plot, which is centered on the failure of communication between a conformist aristocratic young girl (Nanda) and her effete and diffident English tutor (Piyal). There is in Gamperaliya nothing of the ribald or the violent that one sees in the Jātaka stories Wickramasinghe outlines; nor is there any reflection of the carnivalesque or subversive function that he notes of the Jātakas in general (they « laughed at all institutions… smiled at the hypocrisy of the conventional… [138]). In fact, the « modern author » of Gamperaliya re-creates in the novel the conventional and the old guard, and through a curious mix of nostalgia and memory affirms, in the face of obsolescence and replacement by the new, those older ways of life and being that seem to hold no more. Enfolded in the novel’s recreation of a timeless Koggala, under the duress of colonial modernity, is a rural utopia of the Sinhalese imaginary, a symbolic space of resistance and history that provides sustenance and a way to reclaim the honour and glory of legend. As Charles Hoole puts it,

Sinhalese history under four-and-one-half centuries of Western colonial rule would be unintelligible without reference to the concept of utopia. In such times of political subjugation, the utopian ideas enabled the Sinhalese Buddhists to visualize periods of intense spiritual awakening in the future, giving them much needed hope to endure their present state of dishonor… .To the Sinhalese community as a whole, utopia became a powerful source of unity and invincibility, in the face of foreign encroachments (103-104).

15The valorization of the Jātakas for their « realism », when it is quite clear that the ascription of such a paradigm is far from perfect, goes hand in hand with Wickramasinghe’s larger agenda for adumbrating an anticolonial, Sinhala-Buddhist cultural tradition that could be proud of its past and its history. Indeed, it is to the forging of such a tradition that he devoted his own lifetime and literary output.

16This discussion of Wickramasinghe’s conception of realism sheds some light on the central paradox that defines the kind of realism he crafts in Gamperaliya, a realism that was a far cry from the outrageous, excessive, and ribald Jātakas that he exalted in his critical commentary. The only sense in which the matter and idiom of the Jātakas can be said to be found in Gamperaliya is in the ways in which the novel’s characters are drawn as types (some more ideal than others) rather than as fleshed-out characters. In fact, Gamperaliya is an affirmation of the utopian qualities of a feudal order comprised of a village community headed by an idealized, benevolent feudal male head, and the novel functions as a record of a mode of being that Wickramasinghe sensed was coming to pass as British rule drew to a close in Ceylon and a replacement government of urban elites looked set to take over. The novel’s historical importance, however, is undoubted, as it popularized in the Sinhalese literary imaginary a paradigm for realism in rural representation, the utopian, which in its own turn became crucial to the discourse of mainstream Sinhala cultural nationalism. This is an argument I make more fully in my monograph, Utopia and the Village in South Asian Literatures, and here today, I hope I have been able to suggest the paradoxical legacies of Sri Lanka’s foremost Sinhala writer, Martin Wickramasinghe, in whose critical essays on the Jātakas, the nativist and autochthonous value of the tales provides evidence of Wickramasinghe’s firm commitment to anticolonialism, a commitment that in his own novelistic writings he trenchantly reformulated. In so doing, Wickramasinghe leaves us with a very different living tradition of the Jātakas, one whose adaptation in the Sri Lankan novel makes it distinct from those in India but tremendously important for those of us who seek to understand the multiple tracks by which realism proliferates in the South Asian novel.


Abeysekera Tissa, « Today Is the 112th Birth Anniversary of Martin Wickramasinghe: The Shrine Rock », Rootsweb, 29 May 2002-20 June 2009, Available online: <http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~lkawgw/mw.html >.

Bond George D, The Buddhist Revival in Sri Lanka: Religious Tradition, Reinterpretation and Response, New Delhi, Motilalal Banarsidass, 1992.

Cowell Edward Byles, The Jātaka Stories of the Buddha’s Former Births, Oxford, Pali Text Society, 1995.

Dissanayake Wimal, « Preface », in Uprooted, Rajagiriya, The Martin Wickramasinghe Trust, 2009, p. 1-3.

Liyanage Wasantha, « Narrative Methods of Sinhala Prose: A Historical and Theoretical Study of Sinhala Prose from Twelfth-Century Narratives to Post-Realist Fiction », Diss. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004.

Mohan Anupama, Utopia and the Village in South Asian Literatures, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Sarachchandra Ediriweera, The Sinhalese Novel, Colombo, M. D. Gunasena and Co. Ltd., 1950.

Sarachchandra Ediriweera, « Preface », in Reynolds Christopher, An Anthology of Sinhalese Literature of the Twentieth Century, Kent, Paul Norbury, 1987, p. i-iii.

Tambiah Stanley J., Buddhism Betrayed?: Religion, Politics, and Violence in Sri Lanka, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1992.

Tambiah Stanley J., Culture, Thought and Social Action: An Anthropological Perspective. Cambridge/London, Harvard Universty Press, 1985.

Wickramasinghe Martin, Uprooted: Gamperaliya, trad. Lakshmi de Silva, Ranga Wickramasinghe, Rajagiriya, The Martin Wickramasinghe Trust, 2009 [1944].

Wickramasinghe Martin, Landmarks of Sinhalese Literature, Colombo, M.D. Gunasena and Co. Ltd. Reprinted, 1963 [1948].

Woolf Leonard, Beginning Again, New York, Harcourt Brace, 1963.

Woolf Leonard, The Village in the Jungle, éd. Yasmine Gooneratne, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2004 [1913].

Woolf Leonard, Growing: An Autobiography of the Years 1904-1911, London, Hogarth, 1961.


1 This essay is abstracted from a chapter in my monograph, Anupama Mohan, Utopia and the Village in South Asian Literatures, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

2 Uprooted (2009) by Lakshmi de Silva and Ranga Wickramasinghe (son of Martin Wickramasinghe) is the first translation of Gamperaliya into English and came 65 years after the novel’s publication in Sinhala in 1944. The novel has been previously translated into Tamil (1964) and Russian (1965), and other works by Wickramasinghe, particularly the short stories, have been translated into French and Japanese. Gamperaliya was also made into a highly-acclaimed film in 1964 by Sri Lanka’s leading filmmaker Lester James Peries who retained the Sinhalese title. The film contributed greatly to the reputations of Wickramasinghe and Peries. In Sinhalese, the title means « the transformation of a village. » Interestingly, the salience of the rural and the still-strong purchase of the idea of the village in Sri Lanka is made evident by the fact that the translators have chosen not to entitle the trilogy in English as strict translations of the Sinhala titles, but have gone with Uprooted: The Village, The Village and the City, and The City as the three titles respectively. The Sinhalese title, however, remains on the cover page, thus raising interesting issues regarding the ways translations steer (English-reading) audience responses to texts (and authors) hallowed in a certain (Sinhala) culture and literary tradition. Given the demographics of the population in Sri Lanka (73.8 % Sinhalese; 13.9 % Tamil; and the remaining comprised of Muslims, Indian Tamils, Burghers, Veddas, and others), and the recentness of the translation of Gamperaliya into English, it is evident that the novel’s primary readership within Sri Lanka for all these decades was largely Sinhalese.

3 The literary debates between Wickramasinghe and Sarachchandra (lifelong friends despite their differences) form the heart of Sinhala criticism between the 1940s and 1960s. Sarachchandra argued that modern Sinhala fiction was a genre borrowed from the West and a deliberate break away from Sinhalese classical literature: « It is a remarkable fact about modern Sinhalese literature that, not only does it owe little to the literature of preceding periods, but that it even rejects the values of that literature and seeks sustenance from sources far removed from the original fount of its inspiration » (« Preface » to An Anthology of Sinhalese Literature of the Twentieth Century v). He considered the greatest limitation of precolonial Sinhalese writing (much of it authored by monks) its inability to be a « mirror of life » and its preoccupation with otherworldly themes, an aspect that made such narratives inherently non-secular in content and non-realist in idiom. In Sarachchandra’s reading, Sinhalese literature bloomed only when the colonial encounter with the West caused the emergence of writers « from among the laity » (« Preface » v), and « a class of western-oriented intelligentsia » that arose in the 19th century is credited by him with « the true ‘liberation’ » (« Preface » v). Wickramasinghe refuted this position and in several essays written in Sinhala and English « tried to demonstrate that pre-modern Sinhala narratives were indeed realistic and they did have complex ordinary human life as their subject-matter. He also argued that the modern short story in Sinhala evolved from narratives like the Jātakas » (Liyanage). Unlike Sarachchandra, Wickramasinghe read the colonial encounter as a mixed blessing: his own history of Sinhalese literature written in 1948, for instance, ends in the 17th century with the ballad-writer Alagiyavanna’s death, and in a one brief paragraph, he more or less dismisses « modern » Sinhalese literature of which his own writing would be an integral part: « It is only in the present day that the initial chaos resulting from the contact of our culture with that of the West is beginning to abate. The new literature that is rising from the product of this contact is yet too young to be estimated » (Landmarks 202).

4 See Liyanage for a fuller exploration of « overlooked non-realist elements in the pre-modern [Sinhala] narrative prose… [and the latter’s role in] contemporary discussions about the nature of post-realism in modern Sinhala literature » (7).

5 These stories have been remarkably popular in Europe too, a point that Wickramasinghe makes as well (Landmarks 126-7). E. B. Cowell in the Preface to the Jātaka Stories observes: « The same stories may thus in course of their long wanderings, come to be recognised under widely different aspects, as when they are used by Boccaccio or Poggio merely as merry tales, or by some Welsh bard to embellish king Arthur’s legendary glories, or by some Buddhist samana or by some medieval friar to add point to his discourse. Chaucer unwittingly puts a Jātaka story into the mouth of his Pardoner when he tells his tale of « the ryotoures three »; and another appears in Herodotus as the popular explanation of the sudden rise of Almaeonidae through Megacles marriage with Cleisthenes daughter and the rejection of his rival Hippocleides. » (ix)

6 A dominance that, many in Sri Lanka have argued, created, for a large part of the 20th century, a stranglehold on Sinhalese writing: it is not until the 1980s, when Gamini Viyangoda’s translations into Sinhala of Gabriel García Márquez and Latin American narratives of magical realism appeared that a perceptible shift in Sinhalese literary criticism and writing occurred. While an earlier generation of writers (for instance, Gunadasa Amarasekera, Madawala Ratnayake, and Leel Gunasekara), under the august example of Wickramasinghe and Sarachchandra, had preferred and drawn inspiration from French and Russian realist traditions, a new generation of writers emerged in the 1980s and 1990s (such as Simon Navagattegama, Ajith Tilakasena, Daya Dissanayake), drawn to the post-realisms of the Latin Americans and clued into global literary trends in other languages such as English, where the writings of Salman Rushdie (among others) had begun to transform literary landscapes. Interestingly, the impact of much post-realist fiction on the emergent Sinhala writers was also felt in a re-discovery, as it were, of those non-realist and anti-realist aspects of classical Buddhist literature that had been overlooked and marginalized by the dominant realism of Wickramasinghe and the generation of writers inspired by his writing and by the criticism of Sarachchandra. See Liyanage for a detailed discussion of this new generation of writers whose work turns « to classical and folk Sinhala literature for models of alter-realistic narrative » (10).

Pour citer ce document

Anupama Mohan, « The Paradoxes of Realism: Martin Wickramasinghe and The Jātakas in Sinhala Literature1 » dans « Indian Birth and Western Rebirths of the Jātaka Tales », « Lectures du monde anglophone », n° 3, 2017 Licence Creative Commons
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Quelques mots à propos de :  Anupama Mohan

Presidency University
Anupama Mohan is currently Assistant Professor of English at Presidency University, Kolkata, India. Her area of specialization is Postcolonial Studies, 20th century South Asian Literatures, History of Ideas, and Critical Theory. Her monograph, Utopia and the Village in South Asian Studies, emerged from her doctoral dissertation completed at the University of Toronto, and was published in 2012 by Palgrave Macmillan, U.K. The book has been reviewed widely in the field and was nominated to the MLA First Book Prize in 2013 and to the ICAS Book Prize in 2013. Anupama has published academic book chapters and essays in international peer-reviewed journals such as the University of Toronto Quarterly, Postcolonial Text, and Intersections, among others. Anupama is also a poet and short story writer and her first book of poems, Twenty Odd Love Poems, was published in 2008 by the prestigious The Writer's Workshop.