A Glossary of Indian Figures of Speech

Gerow, Edwin Mahaffey

     This glossary of figures of speech is based on eight works: (1) Bharata, Natyasastra; (2) Bhamaha, Kavyalamkara; (3) Dandin, Kavyadarsa; (4) Vamana, Kavyalamkaravrtti; (5) Udbhata, Kavyalamkarasarasamgraha; (6) Agni Purana; (7) Rudrata, Kavyalamkara; (8) Mammata, Kavyaprakasa. Each entry in the glossary contains the following: (1) The definition of the figure. (2) References to the discussions of the figure in the various authors. . . . (3) Sanskrit example, illustrative of the figure, with expository notes and translations. (4) Example from English or American literature, illustrative of the figure. (5) Discussion of the place of the figure in the system of figures, and related topics.
     The goal of the study is to define all the figures which are found in the writers on alamkarasastra, from Bharata to Mammata. In addition, the introduction to the study reviews this period in the history of Indian poetics and the decline in interest in style (riti or marga) as a mode of analysis, and the emergence, in the 9th century, of the poetics based on dhvani, 'suggestion.' But the historical treatment is not the crucial thing -- more important are the different views of poetry and the problems of analysis they imply.
     As to the limitations of the study, we are not dealing with individual figures, and therefore shall not consider those aspects or that information about each figure which do not serve to distinguish it from other figures. There will be, in other words, no philological account of the minute changes in definition of which the figures are capable . . . The first task has been to give a definition, in the light of numerous examples, which is a specification of a peculiar nexus in the classifying ideas which give us, in principle, the system of figures. Since we are dealing with different authors, each of whom represents a different system or the same system in a different way, it will be important to understand those respects in which generalization has been judged legitimate. The examples offered by the authors are of prime importance in separating essential from non-essential difference, since it is only through a comparison of each example with all possible counter-examples that the notion underlying the classification itself becomes explicit.