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The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic (Penguin Classics) Paperback – Bargain Price, August 29, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0143039679 ISBN-10: 0143039679 Edition: Revised

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (August 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143039679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143039679
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Tamil (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

R. K. Narayan (1906–2001), born and educated in India, was the author of fourteen novels, numerous short stories and essays, a memoir, and three retold myths. His work, championed by Graham Greene, who became a close friend, was often compared to that of Dickens, Chekhov, Faulkner, and Flannery O'Connor, among others. October 10, 2006, is the centennial of Narayan's birth.

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Customer Reviews

True love at its perfection.
Martha Boltares
The original texts of the Ramayana are quite immense, and writer R.K. Narayan has condensed the epic down into a quite readable 150 page work.
Will Jerom
I look forward to reading this book and with dealing with these folks in the future.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Grasso on June 9, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As a fan of Narayan's work, I was fascinated to see how he would tackle the grand subject of the Ramayana, a work that runs through and certainly influences all of Narayan's stories. The result is one of his most delightful and beautifully written novels. I think it is important to approach this book not as "THE" Ramayana, but one storyteller's unique vision of the timeless epic--even as a variation on one of his Malgudi novels (the characters certainly bare a distinct resemblance). Narayan's writing is extremely sensitive, refined, yet full of humor and charm. Throughout he adopts the tone of a storyteller, openly acknowledging that he is only "retelling" a story by a much greater storyteller, and leaving out the juciest parts at that. His little asides where he explains, "And here the poet described the scene so touchingly..." are at once reverent and amusing, as Narayan wisely omits anything too excessive or poetic that might derail his narrative. But the story itself is wonderful, a colorful, full-blooded telling of the Ramayana, sparse, fast-moving, but with all the hallmarks of Narayan's style. This book is a must for any fan of Narayan's fiction, Indian writing, or mythology. Narayan effectively conveys the epic's timelessness, with characters and situations that echo throughout literature and film, full of profound human emotions. And this is always one of Narayan's chief strengths, to create believable, complex human characters. In his treatment, even Rama and Sita emerge as sympathetic individuals, not the cardboard cut-outs all too common given their extraordinary powers. In short, this is a magical and engaging work that I know I will read again and again in the years to come. I invite you to do the same!
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Xavier Thelakkatt on April 8, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The story of Ramayana is in the blood stream of everyone from India. The original epic was written in the 4th century BC in Sanskrit, by Valmiki. Poets in every Indian language have retold this story. This present book relying on the Tamil Kamban version, presents before the reader the essential story of Ramayana. R.K Narayan, with the command of the English language and love for fast story movement, narrates the kernel of the epic poem in an engaging manner, for the sake of the English reader not familiar with the original version. Naturally, some of the elaborate details had to be left out and some narratives had to be condensed. This made the enormous epic into an enjoyably gripping story, in less than 200 pages.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By "gsibbery" on June 5, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a condensed version of not the original Ramayana as handed down to us in Sanskrit, but of the Tamil version of the story that Sri Narayanji grew up with. There are versions of the Ramayana in nearly all Indian dialects and languages, and as Tamil is one of the oldest, it is also quite interesting to see a translation from that language. The tale is told fairly faithfully, although much is left out (this is necessary to avoid having to sell several volumes to tell the whole tale, as the original tale is HUGE). I thought that it may have been a rather boring story, especially to a modern reader, but boy, was I ever wrong! This was one of the most entertaining and gripping books that I have ever read. It tells the story of Ramachandra's youth to his betrayal by his stepmother, his journey in the desert, and how he defeated Ravana, who had kidanapped Sita and brought her to Sri Lanka, as well as Hanuman's revelries. Rama is still an excellent example of Hindoo ideals, but the primary value of the story for me was not so much religious or ethical as much as it was simply a fascinating journey into the vast world of Indian literature. A wonderful read; I would recommend it to anyone.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Anne Parker on August 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
I should say immediately that I have no background of any kind in Indian culture, myth or religion. So in reading this small volume I was a complete outsider and a complete beginner in the Ramayana epic. For me, this retelling (in prose) was an excellent first step into unknown territory. I was able to follow the thread of the story and at the same time get a good sense of the epic grandeur behind the myth. I learned about the inviolability and power of a promise, no matter how whimsical or ill-conceived it appears when given; the sacredness of all life, even that which appears lowly; the presence of gods among us in a great variety of forms; and at least one idealized view of the relationship between a man and a woman.

Oh, and it was a whopping good story, much deeper and more packed with meaning than the Greek and Roman myths I was raised on as a child. As I think back, I can recall the Greco/Roman mythology only as a collection of pleasant stories of gods who behaved like children, made decisions for petty reasons and who liked to interfere in the lives of men simply to cause trouble, fulfill sexual desire or seek revenge. I remember wondering when I read Greco/Roman myths how anyone could have "believed in" such gods or even taken them seriously in the way religion is taken seriously today.

The Ramayana conveys a completely difference sense of the divine which, although very ancient, is still significant in the modern world. In the Ramayana gods and humans are always seeking spiritual enlightenment, to do good in all the worlds and to honor each other. The Ramayana is inspiring in the best sense of word.

I also found the introduction by Pankaj Mishra very helpful in understanding the history of the epic and its continuing importance to Indians.
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