Vol. 6 No. 1 June 2022

Contrapuntal Comparison
Author:David Damrosch    Time:2022-06-20    Click:

Contrapuntal Comparison

David Damrosch

Page 052-065

Abstract: The Eurocentrism of Comparative Literature has meant that non-European literary texts have been studied through either vague universalism or imperialist exoticism. What can correct, or complement, such orientalist knowledge is contrapuntal reading with local knowledge, to tackle cultural difference not as an anomaly but a fact to be analytically accommodated. Engaging previous theoretical work in literary studies and anthropology that have struggled with the Eurocentric foundations of scholarly disciplines, this paper presents a sample of contrapuntal reading by examining the 1976 English translation of Kālidāsa’s Meghadūta, rendered by Leonard Nathan, in the light of the 9th-century scholar Anandavardhana’s Dhvanyaloka and the extended commentary written by his follower Abhinavagupta. This comparative sample clarifies how contrapuntal reading with local knowledge can balance Eurocentric and orientalist readings of non-Western literary traditions.

Keywords: contrapuntal reading, orientalism, Kālidāsa, Meghadūta, Anandavardhana, Abhinavagupta, Eurocentrism

Doi: 10.53397/hunnu.jflc.202201005

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