Sri Aurobindo on Shakespeare

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Item Code: NAD192
Author: K.D.Sethna
Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry
Edition: 2010
ISBN: 9788170582366
Pages: 128
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 7.2 inch X 4.9 inch
Weight 130 gm
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Book Description
Back of the Book

About the Author

Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) was born in Bengal but educated in England from his seventh to his twenty-first year, at St.Paul’s School London, and king’s College, Cambridge. Besides English, which was like a mother-tongue to him, he knew several languages and was conversant with the best literature in Greek, Latin, French, Italian, German, Sanskrit and Bengali. For six years (1904-1910) he led the Indian nationalist movement: then withdrew to Pondicherry, south India, where he concentrated on what he has called the integral yoga, an inner development to realise a new consciousness beyond the mental, which would provide the key to the problems besetting human life. He has published books on various themes. Some of the major ones in prose are: the Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, The Ideal of Human Unity, The Foundations of Indian Culture, The Human Cycle, the Future Poetry. His greatest poetic works are Ilion, an epic in quantitative hexameters built on a principle of what would be natural English quantity and Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol, the longest blank verse epic in English, running to nearly 24,000 lines.

K.D.Sethna, himself poet and critic, has linked together Sri Aurobindo’s numerous insights and critical observations on Shakespeare, by a Commentary further expounding and applying them. They may well be regarded as India’s most significant contribution to the understanding and appraisal ok Shakespeare’s genius.

Publishers Note

Annamalai University invited K.D Sethna of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the International Centre of Education. Pondicherry, to deliver two talks at their Shakespeare Symposium on September 1-3, 1964. He gave the opening and the closing talks of this quarter-centenary celebration of the poet’s year of birth: “ The Dramatis Personae of Shakespeare.” What was delivered in either case was a part of what had been actually written. For, both the themes had developed far beyond the needs of the occasion. We are presenting in full the development of the second subject, covering all the points lit up by Sri Aurobindo in the work of the Bard. The numerous insights and critical observations of Sri Aurobindo-here linked together by a commentary further expounding and applying them-may well be regarded as India’s most significant contribution to the understanding and appraisal of Shakespeare’s genius.

We thank Annamalai University for letting us include the protions which were delivered at the Symposium.

Note to the Second Edition

A few corrections have been made and an Appendix added, containing two references overlooked in the first Edition.


Sri Aurobindo the poet and Shakespeare…1; Sri Aurobindo the literary critic…4; The general approach to Shakespeare…5; Shakespeare’s place in world-poetry: the three levels of first-class poets…6; Shakespeare and Goethe…9; The chief determinant of poetic greatness…10; Culture and poetic excellence…10; The five kinds of poetic style…11; The fifth or supremely inevitable style…13; Shakespeare and Racine…15; The role of technique…17; Undertones and overtones in a new sense…18; The roles of accent, stress and quantity in Shakespear…21; Affinity between Shakespeare and sri Aurobindo…24; Mirroring Nature and re-creating Nature…26; An Elizabethan Visvamitra?...27.
The different levels or planes of poetic inspiration…30; Chaucer and Shakespeare…32; Shakespeare, Milton, Shelley Gray…35; Shakespeare’s plane and Becon’s mentality…37; Hamlet and intellectuality…38; Shakespeare and Donne…40; Shakespeare’s kinship with Kalidas…43; Their bent of mind…44; Painting of minor characters…44; Characterisation of women…45; Two points in which alone kalidasa is superior …46; Kalidasa’s prose and Shakespeare verse…48; The problem of Shakespeare the man and the poet…50; The Sonnet and the theory of the man and the milieu…51; The sonnet-forms…51; Influences on early Shakespeare…52; The nation-soul and the poet…53; England’s nation-soul, the English language and Shakespeare…54; Poets and nature…56; The inimitableness of a great poet’s style…58; The development of poetic genius…60; Shakespeare and Marlowe…60.
The demands of the Drama-form…62; Shakespeare and the dramatist’s work…64; The middle Ages. The Renaissance and the spirit of Elizabethan Drama…65; The characteristics of Shakespeare the dramatist…67; Shakespeare and Browning and dramatic poets…69.
The process of Poetic inspiration…73; The intuitive expression of Shakespeare…74; Nobility of style…76; Shakespeare’s earlier and later styles…78; The greatest lines of poetry and their context…79; “Overhead poetry” …80; Its derivations or substitutes…82; Richness and restraint in poetry…83; Epic sublimity and romantic…85; Bare and direct statement…86; Shakespeare and the Johnsonian critic…87; Shakespeare neither philosopher nor mystic…89; Shakespeare and overhead poetry…92; The mantra…93; Shakespeare’s puzzling Sonnet…96; Blake’s Hear the voice of the Bard and Pure Poetry…99;
Shakespeare and Blake…21; The roles of accent, stress and quantity in Shakespear…102; The Future Poetry and its past anticipations…102; Shakespeare and Whitman…106; Quantitative rhythm, free verse and Shakespeare’s prose…108; The top reaches of Withmanian free verse and Shakespeare’s “ordered measures…111; The spiritual principle of the Future poetry…114; The Future Poetry, sri Aurobindo and Shakespeare…115.
Sri Aurobindo’s earliest writing on Shakespeare…116; Indian architecture and Shakespeare’s art…116-118.
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