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Pandanus is a biannual peer-reviewed international journal publishing original research papers in English on nature symbolism in Literature, Art, Myth and Ritual. It has a regional focus on South Asia but welcomes papers from other regions. The journal is the outcome of the Pandanus project, based at the Institute of South and Central Asian Studies, Seminar of Indian Studies, Philosophical Faculty, Charles University in Prague. Pandanus volumes started coming out in 1998 on an annual basis as a result of co-operation between three Universities ... please click here to read the full text of Pandanus Mission Statement.

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Pandanus ’15: Nature in Literature, Art, Myth and Ritual
Volume 9, No. 2 (2015)

Editor-in-chief: Jaroslav Vacek
Deputy Editor: Martin Hříbek
Members of the Editorial Board:
Giuliano Boccali (University of Milano, Italy)
Alexander Dubianski (University of Moscow, Russia)
Daniele Feller (University of Lausanne, Switzerland)
Adalbert J. Gail (Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany)
Oldřich Král (Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic)
Dagmar Marková (Oriental Institute, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic)
Cinzia Pieruccini (University of Milano, Italy)
Tiziana Pontillo (University of Cagliari, Italy)
Chettiarthodi Rajendran (University of Calicut, Kerala, India)
Danuta Stasik (University of Warsaw, Poland)
Lidia Sudyka (Jagiellonian University of Krakow, Poland)
Anna Trynkowska (University of Warsaw, Poland)
Eva Wilden (EFEO, Paris, France)
Gyula Wojtilla (University of Szeged, Hungary)
English correction: Dr. Mark Corner (HUB University, Brussels, Belgium)
Institute of South and Central Asian Studies, Seminar of Indian Studies
Philosophical Faculty, Charles University in Prague
Celetná 20, 116 42 Praha 1, Czech Republic
Publisher: Stanislav Juhaňák - TRITON
ISSN 1802-7997
(Registration number of MK ČR) E 17677

  • Tatiana Szurlej - Nature in Devdas. A mere ornament, or an integral part of the film story
  • David Pierdominici Leăo - Humour, baroque and nature: the image of the dawn in the Somavallīyogānandaprahasana
  • Jiří Jákl - Literary representations of the coconut palm in Old Javanese kakavin poetry
  • Daniela Rossella - Flora and fauna in Toru Dutt’s Letters and Ballads. Part One: Flora in the Letters

  • Herman Tieken, 2015, Between Colombo and the Cape. Letters in Tamil, Dutch and Sinhala, Sent to Nicolaas Ondaatje from Ceylon, Exile at the Cape of Good Hope (1728–1737). Dutch Sources on South Asia c. 1600–1825, Volume 6. Manohar Publishers & Distributors, New Delhi – Reviewed by Lidia Szczepanik-Wojtczak
  • Hiltrud Rüstau, Imke Jörns, in cooperation with Gottried Freitag, 2015, Sikkim: Das verborgene Juwel. Ein Reisebericht – Wo Windpferde die Götter grüßen (The Concealed Jewel. A Travel Story – Where the Wind Horses Greet the Gods). Trafo Verlagsgruppe, Berlin - Annotated by Dagmar Marková
  • Rosa Ronzitti, 2014, Due metafore del caso grammaticale: aind. víbhakti e gr. ptōsis. Preistoria e storia comparata (Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwisssenschaft, 148). Institut für Sprachen und Literaturen der Universität Innsbruck, Bereich Sprachwissenschaft, Innsbruck - Reviewed by Stefano Novelli and Tiziana Pontillo
  • Silvia Schwarz Linder, 2014, The Philosophical and Theological Teachings of the Pādmasaṃhitā. Philosophisch-Historische Klasse Sitzungsberichte, 853 / Beiträge zur Kultur- und Geistesgeschichte Asiens, 82. Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien - Reviewed by Tiziana Pontillo


Nature in Devdas. A mere ornament, or an integral part of the film story
Tatiana Szurlej, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland

Postal address:
ul. Głowackiego 7
38–500 Sanok

Film adaptations of literature are usually seen as a form of pauperization, or even vulgarization of the original work, and the value of film is usually determined by its coherence with the text. However, sometimes the cinematic version of a novel allows filmmakers to create their own legendary work, which can even outshine the original text, as happened with Devdas written by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. Since there have been several films based on the novel, produced continuously from the silent film era to contemporary times, some of them already have canonical status. Interestingly, this position seems to have been gained not only through their faithfulness to the text, which is a very remarkable phenomenon, showing that a successful adaptation must be something more than a simple illustration of the book. The following presentation of four Hindi films based on Devdas discusses the co-relation of the environment with the emotions of the novel’s protagonist. The use of nature is an example of a strategy which, being the invention of a skilful film director, has become almost an obligatory feature expected by an audience today.

Humour, baroque and nature: the image of the dawn in the Somavallīyogānandaprahasana
David Pierdominici Leăo, La Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

Postal address:
Via Cimabue 1b
20060 Mediglia (MI)

The Somavallīyogānanda of Aruṇagirinātha Diṇḍima is one of the many unpublished prahasanas, dated approximately to the 15th century CE. Although it cannot be considered a dignified example of the comic genre compared to the first testimonies, this work presents many elements of lively interest. After an examination of the details connected with Diṇḍima, an almost unknown author of theatre and poetry, the paper will offer first impressions after a preliminary reading of some verses. The few examined portions concern the representation of the dawn at the beginning of the farce; an analysis of several natural images will be presented, their contents and structure, from which some considerations about Aruṇagirinātha’s poetry and his descriptive skills will be offered.

Literary representations of the coconut palm in Old Javanese kakavin poetry
Jiří Jákl, University of Queensland, Australia

Postal address:
Čisovice 54
Czech Republic

Literary representations of the coconut palm in Old Javanese court poetry are analyzed. First, pronounced erotic symbolism of nuts, pervasive in poems, is discussed. In what is clearly a literary cliché, nuts, especially a variety called in the texts “dwarf/ivory nuts” are likened to a woman’s breasts. Second, the coconut palm is represented as a plant element typical of the seashore environment, its natural habitat, as well as of remote, oft en small, villages in the Javanese interior. It is argued that this image reflects the fact that the coconut palm, propagated sexually, cannot travel inland without the human agency, and that harvesting of the coconut palms may have been an important, if not dominant, element of remote inland settlements that relied on the palm economy rather than on rice cultivation. It gives us an interesting glimpse into in “imagined” ancient Java, where palm economy may have represented a backbone of local economy. Third, this dignified status of the coconut palm, all but forgotten now, is further emphasized in a couple of literary images where the palm is represented as one of the divine, “celestial” trees, growing in heavenly gardens.

Flora and fauna in Toru Dutt’s Letters and Ballads. Part One: Flora in the Letters
Daniela Rossella, University of Potenza, Italy

Postal address:
Piazza Dino Buzzati
5–42123 Parma

Toru Dutt (1856–1877) composed a number of poems that her father found quite by chance after her death and published as Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan. In a series of three papers (of which this is the first one) I propose to discuss nature in those poems and in the letters written by Toru to her only close friend, Mary Martin, an English woman. Both the Letters and the Ballads show very clearly Toru’s passionate interest in the world of flora and fauna. Toru appears in fact literally immersed in a luxuriant natural universe, a truly living world which for her is in turn a refuge and a place for private reflection and inner discourse. This natural world is for this poet a means to experience detachment from the sullied “civilized” world of the town, while at the same time, it offers her a space for the nostalgic memories of a life full of activity and commitment. Indeed, Baugmaree Garden (the Dutts’ country residence), and its “inhabitants” represent for Toru a hortus conclusus, a mindscape and an outer landscape, fit for meditation and poetic creation, for pining and rejoicing. In its natural vital cycle, flora is for Toru a constant memento of the transitory character of existence, offering at the same time proof of a cyclic rebirth. In the following First part I shall present a brief critical introduction to the life, times, and work of the Bengali writer (Section 1), and a description of the flora as it appears in the Letters (Section 2). The Second part will deal with the analysis of fauna in Toru’s Letters; the Third, and last, part will be dedicated to the examination of the natural elements in her Ballads.

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