Among The Luminaries In Assam
Biography Has So Long Been A Neglected Branch Of Assamese Literature, As It Has Been In Many Other Indian Literatures. Though Biographical Works Have Not Been Insignificant And Though Biographical Writings Have A Long Tradition In Assamese Literature, Assamese Biography Has Received Very Little Critical Attention. The Present Book Is A Pioneering Work On Assamese Biography. After Defining Biography In The Light Of Western And Ancient Indian Theories, It Surveys Assamese Biography Systematically For The First Time From Its Beginning In The Medieval Times Till Today. First, The Medieval Assamese Hagiographies Depicting The Lives Of Assamese Vaisnavite Saints And Preachers Like Sankaradeva And Madhavadeva Are Discussed. With The Establishment Of The British Rule, Western Biographical Tradition Influenced Assamese Literature When Nationalist Political Leaders, Social Reformers, Men Of Letters, Scientists And Industrialists Came To Be The Subjects Of Biographies. Assamese Biographies Of The British And Post-British Periods With Such Heroes Are Discussed In Later Chapters. In Conclusion, The Author Has Dwelt On The General Adulatory Tone Of Most Assamese Biographies That Tend To Show The Subjects As Human Beings Par Excellence, If Not An Super-Human Beings. During The Vaisnava Period When The Vaisnava Hagiographies Were Written With A Propagandist Bias, The Tone Naturally Got Adulatory, And The Subjects Exaggerated As Super-Human Beings. Even Biographies During The British Period Could Be So Because These Were Then Written With A Nationalist Urge. But Why Is The Same Spirit Persistent Even Today? The Author Poses The Question And Then Goes To Find Out The Cause Of This. This Book Is Bound To Prove Useful Not Only For The Teachers And The Students Of Literature And Comparative Literature Of Undergraduate, Post-Graduate M.Phill., And Ph.D. Leaves, But Also For The Readers And Writers Of Biography And For General Readers.
Dr. Anjali Sarma (b. 1942) teaches Assamese literature and language in Handique Girls’ College, Gauhati-the oldest premier institute of higher education for girls in Assam. An M.A. and Ph.D. in Assamese from the University of Gauhati, she is a reputed teacher who also writes and broadcasts about literature and culture. She has contributed to the multi-volumes Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature brought out by Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.
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