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The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version Of The Indian Epic (Anglais) Broché – 11 octobre 2011

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Table of Contents


About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page





Chapter 2 - THE WEDDING




Chapter 6 - VALI







Chapter 13 - INTERLUDE






R. K. NARAYAN was born on October 10, 1906, in Madras, South India, and educated there and at Maharaja’s College in Mysore. His first novel, Swami and Friends (1935), and its successor, The Bachelor of Arts (1937), are both set in the fictional territory of Malgudi, of which John Updike wrote, “Few writers since Dickens can match the effect of colorful teeming that Narayan’s fictional city of Malgudi conveys; its population is as sharply chiseled as a temple frieze, and as endless, with always, one feels, more characters round the corner.” Narayan wrote many more novels set in Malgudi, including The English Teacher (1945), The Financial Expert (1952), and The Guide (1958), which won him the Sahitya Akademi (India’s National Academy of Letters) Award, his country’s highest honor. His collections of short fiction include A Horse and Two Goats, Malgudi Days, and Under the Banyan Tree. Graham Greene, Narayan’s friend and literary champion, said, “He has offered me a second home. Without him I could never have known what it is like to be Indian.” Narayan’s fiction earned him comparisons to the work of writers including Anton Chekhov, William Faulkner, O. Henry, and Flannery O’Connor.

Narayan also published travel books, volumes of essays, the memoir My Days, and the retold legends Gods, Demons, and Others, The Ramayana, and The Mahabharata. In 1980 he was awarded the A. C. Benson Medal by the Royal Society of Literature, and in 1981 he was made an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1989 he was made a member of the Rajya Sabha, the nonelective House of Parliament in India.

R. K. Narayan died in Madras on May 13, 2001.

PANKAJ MISHRA is the author of The Romantics, winner of the Los Angeles Times’s Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World, and Tempations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet, and Beyond . He is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review, the New York Review of Books, and the Guardian.

Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,
Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices:
80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published in the United States of America by The Viking Press 1972
First published in Great Britain by Chatto & Windus 1973
Published in Penguin Books (U.S.A.) 1977
Published in Penguin Books (U.K) 1977
This edition with an introduction by Pankaj Mishra published in Penguin Books (U.S.A.) 2006


Copyright © R. K. Narayan, 1972

Introduction copyright © Pankaj Mishra, 2006
All rights reserved

The decorations, drawn from Indian temple sculptures, are by R. K. Laxman.

Narayan, R. K., 1906-2001.
The Ramayana : a shortened modern prose version of the Indian epic (suggested by the Tamil version of
Kamban) / R.K. Narayan ; introduction by Pankaj Mishra.
p. cm.—(Penguin classics)

eISBN : 978-0-143-03967-9

1. Rama (Hindu deity)—Fiction. 2. Epic literature, Tamil—Adaptations. I. Kampar, 9th cent.
Ramayanam. II. Title. III. Series.
PR9499.3.N3R36 2006
297.5’922—dc22 2006045201


The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means
without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase
only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic
piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.


In the summer of 1988 sanitation workers across North India went on strike. Their demand was simple: they wanted the federal government to sponsor more episodes of a television serial based on the Indian epic Ramayana (Romance of Rama). The serial, which had been running on India’s state-owned television channel for more than a year, had proved to be an extraordinarly popular phenomenon, with more than eighty million Indians tuning in to every weekly episode. Streets in all towns and cities emptied on Sunday mornings as the serial went on the air. In villages with no electricity people usually gathered around a rented television set powered by a car battery. Many bathed ritually and garlanded their television sets before settling down to watch Rama, the embodiment of righteousness, triumph over adversity.

When the government, faced with rising garbage mounds and a growing risk of epidemics, finally relented and commissioned more episodes of The Ramayana, not just the sanitation workers but millions of Indians celebrated. More than a decade and many reruns later, the serial continues to inspire reverence among Indians everywhere, and remains for many the primary mode of experiencing India’s most popular epic.

The reasons for this may not be immediately clear to an uninitiated outsider: the serial, cheaply made by a Bollywood filmmaker, abounds in ham acting and tinselly sets, and the long, white beards of its many wise, elderly men look perilously close to dropping off.

But it wasn’t so much its kitschy, Bollywood aspect that endeared the serialization to Indians as its invoking of what is easily the most influential narrative tradition in human history: the story of Rama, the unjustly exiled prince. It may be impossible to prove R. K. Narayan’s claim that every Indian “is aware of the story of The Ramayana in some measure or other.” But it will sound true to most Indians. Indeed, the popular appeal of the story of Rama among ordinary people distinguishes it from much of Indian literary tradition, which, supervised by upper-caste Hindus, has been forbiddingly elitist.

There is really no Western counterpart in either the Hellenic or Hebraic tradition to the influence that this originally secular story, transmitted orally through many centuries, has exerted over millions of people. The Iliad and The Odyssey are, primarily, literary texts, but not even Aesop’s fables or the often intensely moral Greek myths shape the daily lives of present-day inhabitants of Greece. In contrast, The Ramayana continues to have a profound emotional and psychological resonance for Indians.

Présentation de l'éditeur

The Ramayana is, quite simply, the greatest of Indian epics - and one of the world's supreme masterpieces of storytelling 'Almost every individual living in India,' writes R. K. Narayan in the Introduction to this new interpretation, 'is aware of the story of The Ramayana. Everyone of whatever age, outlook, education or station in life knows the essential part of the epic and adores the main figures in it - Rama and Sita. Every child is told the story at bedtime . . . The Ramayana pervades our cultural life.' Although the Sanskrit original was composed by Valmiki, probably around the fourth century BC, poets have produced countless variant versions in different languages. Here, drawing his inspiration from the work of an eleventh-century Tamil poet called Kamban, Narayan has used the talents of a master novelist to recreate the excitement and joy he has found in the original. It can be enjoyed and appreciated, he suggests, for its psychological insight, its spiritual depth and its practical wisdom - or just as a thrilling tale of abduction, battle and courtship played out in a universe thronged with heroes, deities and demons.

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69 internautes sur 71 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Narayan's Ramayana 9 juin 2002
Par Joshua Grasso - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
As a fan of Narayan's work, I was fascinated to see how he would tackle the grand subject of the Ramayana, a work that runs through and certainly influences all of Narayan's stories. The result is one of his most delightful and beautifully written novels. I think it is important to approach this book not as "THE" Ramayana, but one storyteller's unique vision of the timeless epic--even as a variation on one of his Malgudi novels (the characters certainly bare a distinct resemblance). Narayan's writing is extremely sensitive, refined, yet full of humor and charm. Throughout he adopts the tone of a storyteller, openly acknowledging that he is only "retelling" a story by a much greater storyteller, and leaving out the juciest parts at that. His little asides where he explains, "And here the poet described the scene so touchingly..." are at once reverent and amusing, as Narayan wisely omits anything too excessive or poetic that might derail his narrative. But the story itself is wonderful, a colorful, full-blooded telling of the Ramayana, sparse, fast-moving, but with all the hallmarks of Narayan's style. This book is a must for any fan of Narayan's fiction, Indian writing, or mythology. Narayan effectively conveys the epic's timelessness, with characters and situations that echo throughout literature and film, full of profound human emotions. And this is always one of Narayan's chief strengths, to create believable, complex human characters. In his treatment, even Rama and Sita emerge as sympathetic individuals, not the cardboard cut-outs all too common given their extraordinary powers. In short, this is a magical and engaging work that I know I will read again and again in the years to come. I invite you to do the same!
36 internautes sur 36 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Gripping Story out of a Great Epic. 9 avril 2002
Par Xavier Thelakkatt - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
The story of Ramayana is in the blood stream of everyone from India. The original epic was written in the 4th century BC in Sanskrit, by Valmiki. Poets in every Indian language have retold this story. This present book relying on the Tamil Kamban version, presents before the reader the essential story of Ramayana. R.K Narayan, with the command of the English language and love for fast story movement, narrates the kernel of the epic poem in an engaging manner, for the sake of the English reader not familiar with the original version. Naturally, some of the elaborate details had to be left out and some narratives had to be condensed. This made the enormous epic into an enjoyably gripping story, in less than 200 pages.
50 internautes sur 54 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Wonderful Retelling 5 juin 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
This is a condensed version of not the original Ramayana as handed down to us in Sanskrit, but of the Tamil version of the story that Sri Narayanji grew up with. There are versions of the Ramayana in nearly all Indian dialects and languages, and as Tamil is one of the oldest, it is also quite interesting to see a translation from that language. The tale is told fairly faithfully, although much is left out (this is necessary to avoid having to sell several volumes to tell the whole tale, as the original tale is HUGE). I thought that it may have been a rather boring story, especially to a modern reader, but boy, was I ever wrong! This was one of the most entertaining and gripping books that I have ever read. It tells the story of Ramachandra's youth to his betrayal by his stepmother, his journey in the desert, and how he defeated Ravana, who had kidanapped Sita and brought her to Sri Lanka, as well as Hanuman's revelries. Rama is still an excellent example of Hindoo ideals, but the primary value of the story for me was not so much religious or ethical as much as it was simply a fascinating journey into the vast world of Indian literature. A wonderful read; I would recommend it to anyone.
23 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An Accessible Version for the Beginner 1 septembre 2007
Par Anne Parker - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I should say immediately that I have no background of any kind in Indian culture, myth or religion. So in reading this small volume I was a complete outsider and a complete beginner in the Ramayana epic. For me, this retelling (in prose) was an excellent first step into unknown territory. I was able to follow the thread of the story and at the same time get a good sense of the epic grandeur behind the myth. I learned about the inviolability and power of a promise, no matter how whimsical or ill-conceived it appears when given; the sacredness of all life, even that which appears lowly; the presence of gods among us in a great variety of forms; and at least one idealized view of the relationship between a man and a woman.

Oh, and it was a whopping good story, much deeper and more packed with meaning than the Greek and Roman myths I was raised on as a child. As I think back, I can recall the Greco/Roman mythology only as a collection of pleasant stories of gods who behaved like children, made decisions for petty reasons and who liked to interfere in the lives of men simply to cause trouble, fulfill sexual desire or seek revenge. I remember wondering when I read Greco/Roman myths how anyone could have "believed in" such gods or even taken them seriously in the way religion is taken seriously today.

The Ramayana conveys a completely difference sense of the divine which, although very ancient, is still significant in the modern world. In the Ramayana gods and humans are always seeking spiritual enlightenment, to do good in all the worlds and to honor each other. The Ramayana is inspiring in the best sense of word.

I also found the introduction by Pankaj Mishra very helpful in understanding the history of the epic and its continuing importance to Indians. There is also a useful Cast of Characters with name pronunciations and a small Glossary at the end explaining some important terminology that appears in the book. If you're new to the Ramayana, as I am, I highly recommend this book.
14 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
fiction translation of the epic of Rama 26 novembre 1996
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
The book accurately translates the epic of journey of Rama with fluidity and is a joy to read. Though the translation is good, much of the of Hindu poetry is lost and therefore a vital part of Hindu culture is missing in the translation.
I would have liked to see more of music of India come through.
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