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The Transposed Heads: A Legend of India Mass Market Paperback – September 12, 1959

ISBN-13: 978-0394700861 ISBN-10: 0394700864

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (September 12, 1959)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394700864
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394700861
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.3 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #840,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A. C. Walter on August 8, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Thomas Mann takes the Cartesian split--that endless war between mind and body, galvanized on one side by Descartes' battle cry "I think, therefore I am"--and illustrates the conflict using two characters, two young friends, in this Indian legend turned fantastical tale of the absurd. Nanda is a farmer and blacksmith, a strong, earthy youth rooted in his physical body, and the contemplative Shridaman is a merchant's son with priestly, Brahman blood in his lineage. Though the young men are polar opposites, they have a strong friendship built on mutual admiration and a hint of health envy.

Their differences manifest during a journey together when the two men come upon the sight of a beautiful young woman at a remote, ritual bathing-place. They observe the woman secretly as she bathes, and Nanda enjoys the sight without shame. Shridaman, though, is by turns embarrassed, then inspired. Mann launches the friends into a hushed philosophical discussion--a frequent attribute of the novel. Shirdaman says, "Yet we are ... guilty if we simply feast on the sight of beauty without inquiring into its being," and he promptly falls in love with the young woman, Sita, languishing over her with the exaggerated fatalism of the smitten lover in a Shakespearean comedy. Eventually, Sita and Shridaman are married.

From this scenario springs one of the most bizarre love triangles in literature, leading to a confrontation with Kali, earth mother and patron of the body, and later to another meeting, at the other end of the spectrum, with an ascetic holy man. These powerful archetypes impel the pendulum of fate back and forth above the three characters. Again and again the question is asked: Is it the head or the body which is most closely linked with the Beloved?
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on October 23, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Thomas Mann's works are always full of dichotomies of various kinds: feeling vs intellect, freedom vs authority, immorality(decadence) vs morality(respectability), artistic or religious pursuits vs participation in everyday life. So it is not surprising that he wrote a book about two people who represent opposite ways of living. One character lives by the dictates of the reasoning head, the other by the dictates of the sensual body. In Mann's mystical India a wonderful accident allows for an interesting experiment. Don't want to give too much away for the fun is in not knowing exactly what happens. Suffice it to say that this is a unique kind of book of novella length, a form Mann was especially competent with. In a way this is Mann's Siddhartha though one informed with many dualites, including the east/ west one. This book attempts to unify all those oppositions once and for all but that is no easy task. This book has humor and humanity and that magic that only the simplest fables have, once you read it you will never forget it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By lamon@ameritech.net on November 24, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Short novel packed with rich language and strong plot. Story is placed in India, which adds mysticism to already mystrious issue of sexual desire and marital responsibility between husband and wife. And since no real love story can have a happy ending, for most real loves are not the happy ones, the tragic ending only adds the strength to this magnificent novel.
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The Transposed Heads: A Legend of India
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