Literary Techniques in Old Tamil Cankam Poetry
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The present study is a step towards an historical and philological description of the founding literary tradition of Southern India. This so-called Cankam literature was composed around the beginning of the common era in a language today known as "Classical Tamil". Ten anthologies of its poetry have survived. Its literary techniques and their presuppositions are presented here in detail on the basis of an analysis of one of these anthologies, the Kur-untokai, which is a collection of 401 short love poems. While the introduction and the last chapter, on poetic style, are also meant for the general student of literature, the second and third chapters will be of interest mainly to specialists. These deal with syntax (especially particle syntax) and with the poetological background of the poetry. The formal features described include the use of formulae; the organisation of a poetic universe in terms of themes, topoi and motifs; syntactic types, such as circular construction; rhetorical figures, such as metaphors, similes and insets; poetic ambiguity achieved through the use of a symbolic code; puns; and intertextual allusions.