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Madly after the MusesBengali Poet Michael Madhusudan Datta and his Reception of the Graeco-Roman Classics$
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Alexander Riddiford

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199699735

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199699735.001.0001

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The Bīrāṅganā kābya (1862) and Ovid’s Heroides

The Bīrāṅganā kābya (1862) and Ovid’s Heroides

(p.140) 5 The Bīrāṅganā kābya (1862) and Ovid’s Heroides
Madly after the Muses

Alexander Riddiford

Oxford University Press

The Bīrāṅganā kābya is a collection of poems treating the elegiac themes of love and the plight of women separated from their beloved. The collection takes Ovid’s Heroides as its generic, thematic, and structural paradigm. Fundamentally, the collection uses Ovid’s Heroides to say something about the nature of illicit readership, to challenge the very idea of what makes a ‘classic’, and to resist literary authority, both European and Hindu. The poems recognize the status of Ovid’s Heroides as a subversive ‘anti-classic’ and uses it as a springboard for implicit comments about colonialism and classicism, and about the troubled relationship of both these concepts with gender identity. However, the Bengali poet’s attraction to Ovid also turns on personal associations: this is a collection of poems about the abandonment of women composed by one who had abandoned his own wife and children in Madras in the 1850s.

Keywords:   Bīrāṅganā kābya; Ovid, Heroides, epistles, elegy, gender

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