The Ramayana: A New Retelling of Valmiki’s Ancient Epic; Complete and Comprehensive

Linda Egenes and Kumuda Reddy. TarcherPerigee, $18 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-14-311180-1
Egenes and Kumuda have produced an in-depth new translation of the ancient Hindu epic poem about Ram, the favorite son of a powerful king and an avatar of Vishnu, and his search for his wife, Sita, who is abducted by a demon king. The myth is well-known and influential throughout South and Southeast Asia, but deserves more attention in the West. As such, this new edition by two experts in meditation and Ayurvedic health is commendable for its effort; it’s a strong abridgement, striking an effective balance between retaining the poem’s structure and multiple sub-plots and reducing the poem’s intimidating original length. However, it strives for faithfulness to the original Sanskrit structure and poetry, with quoted lines at the beginning and end of each chapter, and the result is stiff and self-consciously old-fashioned prose, with characters addressing Rama as “O greatest of men” or telling Sita “do not grieve so, my lady,” which makes the characters feel flat at times rather than like complex, living humans. This book will be of interest to readers looking for an abridged edition of the original text, but will disappoint those seeking to absorb the poetry of the original. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/11/2016
Release date: 09/06/2016
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