Composed in the mid-sixteenth century, The Sound of the Kiss, or The Story That Must Never Be Told, could be considered the first novel written in South Asia. Telugu, the language spoken in today's Andhra Pradesh region of southern India, has a classical literary tradition extending over a thousand years. Suranna's masterpiece comes from a period of intense creativity in Telugu, when great poets produced strikingly modern innovations. The novel explodes preconceived ideas about early South Indian literature: for example, that the characters lack interiority, that the language is formulaic, and that Telugu texts are mere translations of earlier Sanskrit works. Employing the poetic style known as campu, which mixes verse and prose, Pingali Suranna's work transcends our notions of traditional narrative. "I wanted to have the structure of a complex narrative no one had ever known," he said of his great novel, "with rich evocations of erotic love, and also descriptions of gods and temples that would be a joy to listen to."
The Sound of the Kiss is both a gripping love story and a profound meditation on mind and language. Shulman and Rao include a thorough introduction that provides a broader understanding of, and appreciation for, the complexities and subtleties of this text.
About the Author
Pingali Suranna wrote during the Vijayanagara period, the heyday of classical Telugu poetry.
Velcheru Narayana Rao is Krishnadevaraya Professor of Languages and Cultures of Asia at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the author of pathbreaking works on the history of Telugu and Sanskrit literature and poetics.
David Shulman is professor of Indian studies and comparative religion at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and one of the preeminent scholars of South Asian literature.
Table of Contents
Dvaraka City, Where the Story Begins
Kalabhashini on the Swing and Rambha in the Sky
Narada Studies Music
Rambha Entices Manikandhara
Kalabhashini Flies off with the Siddha
The Temple of the Lion-Riding Goddess
Rambha Meets Rambha
Nalakubara Meets Nalakubara
The Story of Salina and Sugatri
Enter Alaghuvrata. Kalabhashini Is Sacrificed
Manistambha Tours the World with His Wife
The Baby Who Talks
Sarasvati Decodes Brahma's Story
Manistambha and Sumukhasatti Exchange Genders
A Lecture on Yoga
Svabhava and Madasaya at Srisailam
Manikandhara Fights the Porcupine Demon
The Story of Alaghuvrata and His Sons
Madhuralalasa Comes of Age
Kalapurna in Love
The Wedding of Kalapurna and Madhuralalasa
Abhinavakaumudi Becomes Jealous
Kalapurna Conquers the World
The Story of the Necklace
Invitation to a Second Reading
Guide to Pronunciation and List of Characters
Index of Names and Technical Terms
What People are Saying About This
Enormous in scope, brilliant in content, rich in literary and religious meanings.... a great read. Every page has something wonderful, memorable and touching.
Wendy Doniger, author of The Implied Spider and translator of The Rig Veda.