Companion Studies to the History of Tamil LiteratureBy Professor Kamil V. Zvelebil
There is a number of problems connected with the study and teaching of any Oriental literature in general and of Tamil literature specifically which have to date been mostly ignored, although they are indispensable for solid knowledge and correct interpretation and understanding of the literature in question. These include problems of authenticity and authorship, of transmission and tradition, writing tools and materials, of relationship of orality to literacy, of Sanskrit to Tamil, the prehistory of Tamil written literature, the numerous texts that have been lost, scholarly lineages and the rediscovery of ancient Tamil literature etc. The book deals with all these problems as well as with some specific Tamil cultural phenomena such as the concept of "threefold Tamil" or the relationship of literature ('marked') to grammar ('marker'), with the derivation of the term "Tamil" and with the history of Tamil literary historiography. It will be indispensable as an introduction to the study of the more than 2000 years of Tamil literary history. By addressing questions which have thus far been almost completely neglected, it has also decisive impact on the interpretative comprehension of Tamil literature and on the teaching of this very rich heritage of verbal art.