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A dominated culture learns not just to be like the culture that dominates it, but also attempts to conceal its own antecedents. In such cultural encounters, amnesia plays a major role in defining the self-perception of cultures. G. N. Devy’s After Amnesia, first published in 1992, offers an incisive analysis of contemporary literary scholarship in Indian languages by demonstrating how modern Indian languages ‘learnt to forget’ that literary criticism had been rejected by them during the post-Sanskrit medieval centuries, and how they have posed before themselves a false choice of intellectual practices rooted in culturally distant Western or Sanskritic traditions. After Amnesia proposes that what has come to be seen as a crisis in Indian literary criticism can be understood if a relevant historiography is formulated. ‘Of Many Heroes’, first published in 1997, is an attempt to formulate such a historiography. If After Amnesia is an essay on literary criticism, ‘Of Many Heroes’ is a historiography of literary historiography in India. It presents a wide spectrum of survey of texts on literary history, beginning with the fourth century Bhartrihari’s Vakyapadiya to the seminal texts produced during the twentieth century. The Reader brings together two other new essays by G. N. Devy – The Being of Bhasha and Countering Violence. These philosophical essays discuss the significance of dialects and vanishing languages in the making of civilization, the place of silence and insanity in the making of meaning, and of language itself in the future of knowledge. After closely analyzing the sociological and psychological roots of violence, the author argues that the increasing violence in modern societies and the loss of languages in an increasingly intolerant and aggressive world need to be seen as closely related aspects of the cultural impact of historical processes germinating in colonialism and globalization hostile to cultural plurality. The four essays together present a complete theory of knowledge in postcolonial times. They present a plea for a radical reorientation to the question of education, knowledge, expression and interpretation of linguistic creative. They are, perhaps, the most challenging and unorthodox thesis on epistemic and hermeneutical issues central to modern Indian culture
This Reader is a true summa, bringing together Devy’s ground-breaking work in the field of contemporary Indian thought.