Back of the Book:
Kalidasa is admired for the portrayal of human emotion on the canvas of natural loveliness. His works abound in poetical painting of picturesque scenery, and herein lies the chief literary strength of Kalidasa.
Volume I comprises plays of Kalidasa: (1) Malvikagnimitram (palace-and-harem drama with a plot of love and intrigue); (2) Vikramorvasiyam (a love-romance of Pururavas and Urvasi); (3) Abhijnanasakuntalam (the famous episode of Dusyanta and Sankuntala). Volume II contains poetical compositions: (1) Raghuvamsam (account of Iksvaku dynasty from Dilipa of Agnivarana); (2) Kumarasambhavam (the legendary narrative of Siva-Parvati and their son Karttikeya); (3) Meghadutam (an exile's message to his beloved by a cloud); (4) Rtusamharam (a description of seasons); (5) Srngaratilakam (love lyric).
This magnificent set in two volumes as also of each work separately is bound to create interest in Kalidasa and to fulfil the long-felt requirement of the readers. Each volume begins with an introduction, then follows the original text accompanied by its English translation and explanatory notes.
"The tastes of men differ as much as their sentiments and passions, and in felling the beauties of art as in smelling flowers, tasting fruits, viewing prospects and hearing a melody, every individual must be guided by his own sensations and the incommunicable association of his own ideas." This is what Sir William Jones, the first to translate and interpret to Europe this great classic of India, remarks regarding the appreciation of a work of art. The charm of a great classic as a work of art, in common with all great works of art, lies in its eternal freshness and novelty ; and to each and every mind a great work will reveal a new meaning and a new charm which alone are the source of all the enjoyment one derives from reading it.
How far it has been possible for us to reveal all the manifold charm of this great work of classical antiquity, it is for the reader of judge. We have spared no pains in bringing together all the accessories to his enjoyment, selecting the best of all possible variants, giving a rendering in English of the original which is as literal as the idiom allows and adding critical, exegetical and rhetorical notes to aid the readers' understanding of the text. This is all that we have done ; and if the reader does his part well, he will surely be able to understand and enjoy the book. For after all "We receive only what we give."
In preparing this edition, we have in the main followed the Devanagari recension of the text as represented by Monier Williams. We are, indeed, very greatly indebted to that scholarly edition of the classic. We have further availed ourselves of all printed texts and translations, notably those of Sir William Jones, Ryder, and also of the stage version of the Sakuntala prepared by Das Gupta and Laurence Binyon, with its illuminating introduction by India's greatest living poet. We have further consulted much of the vast literature on the subject and we here make our grateful acknowledgments to all these.
14th June, 1934
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