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The Mahabharata, Volume 7

Book 11: The Book of the Women Book 12: The Book of Peace, Part 1

Translated by James L. Fitzgerald
What is found in this epic may be elsewhere;
What is not in this epic is nowhere else.
—from The Mahabharata

The second longest poem in world literature, The Mahabharata is an epic tale, replete with legends, romances, theology, and metaphysical doctrine written in Sanskrit. One of the foundational elements in Hindu culture, this great work consists of nearly 75,000 stanzas in eighteen books, and this volume marks the much anticipated resumption of its first complete modern English translation. With the first three volumes, the late J. A. B. van Buitenen had taken his translation up to the threshold of the great war that is central to the epic. Now James Fitzgerald resumes this work with translations of the books that chronicle the wars aftermath: The Book of Women and part one of The Book of Peace. These books constitute volume 7 of the projected ten-volume edition. Volumes 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10 of the series will be published over the next several years.

In his introductions to these books, Fitzgerald examines the rhetoric of The Mahabharatas representations of the wars aftermath. Indeed, the theme of The Book of Women is the grief of the women left by warriors slain in battle. The book details the keening of palace ladies as they see their dead husbands and sons, and it culminates in a mass cremation where the womens tears turn into soothing libations that help wash the deaths away. Fitzgerald shows that the portrayal of the womens grief is much more than a sympathetic portrait of the sufferings of war. The scenes of mourning in The Book of Women lead into a crisis of conscience that is central to The Book of Peace and, Fitzgerald argues, the entire Mahabharata. In this book, the man who has won power in the great war is torn between his own sense of guilt and remorse and the obligation to rule which ultimately he is persuaded to embrace.

The Mahabharata is a powerful work that has inspired awe and wonder for centuries. With a penetrating glimpse into the trauma of war, this volume offers two of its most timely and unforgettable chapters.

848 pages | 1 halftone, 1 map, 4 charts, 7 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2004

Asian Studies: South Asia

Folklore and Mythology

Literature and Literary Criticism: Asian Languages

Religion: South and East Asian Religions


"The resumption of the publication of the English Mahabharata is a cause for celebration among Indologists as well as readers throughout the world, and this audience owes a great deal of gratitude to Fitzgerald for his efforts as translator and editor. . . . Readers of the Mahabharata can eagerly look forward to the future volumes of the series, and are greatly indebted to James Fitzgerald for his continued labors to bring the great Indian epic to a modern English audience.”

Whitney Cox | South Asia News

"[Fitzgerald] must now be regarded as among the great Mahabharata scholars of our time. The present volume has been under production for more than twenty years, and is a work of great maturity and meticulousness. . . . Fitzgerald has written a long introduction . . . that is must reading for all scholars of Indian literature and religion. . . . The translation is excellent, and will not be replaced in the foreseeablew future."

Frederick M. Smith | Religious Studies Review

"Ther Chicago Mahabharata has resumed. Now more than ever, it is an epic undertaking. . . .  Beyond giving a readable translation of the text, Fitzgerald has done just about all that could be done to enable an English reader to savor the structure, stature, density, and significance of these parts of the Mahabharata. . . . The University of Chicago Press has edited and produced the volume so beautifully that it reignites the desire for the whole set to be done."

Willis G. Regier | MLN

"Fitzgerald is to be congratulated for continuing the high standards set by van Buitenen. . . . If this volume is any indication of future volumes, readers are indeed in for a rich treat."

Carl Olson | Hindu Studies

"This book is probably the most important Indological publication since Van Buitenen’s 1978 translation of books four and five. . . . It is difficult realistically to imagine a more serious, careful and timely translation than this one."

Simon Brodbeck | South Asian Research

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
General Introduction: The Translation Resumed
THE MAHaBHaRATA Translated
Book 11. The Book of the Women
Summaries and Translation
Book 12. The Book of Peace, Part One, Chapters 1-167
Summaries and Translation
Notes to the Translations of Books 11 and 12
Glossary of Sanskrit Words
Concordance of Chapters in the Critical Edition
and the Bombay Edition: Book 11 and Book 12,
Part One
Index of Proper Names

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