What We Are Reading Today: The Rāmāyaa of Vālmīki: An Epic of Ancient India

Updated 27 August 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: The Rāmāyaa of Vālmīki: An Epic of Ancient India

The seventh and final book of the monumental Rāmāyaa of Vālmīki, the Uttarakāa, brings the epic saga to a close with an account of the dramatic events of King Rāma’s millennia-long reign.
It opens with a colorful history of the demonic race of the rākasas and the violent career of Rāma’s villainous foe Rāvaa, and later recounts Rāma’s grateful discharge of his allies in the great war at Lankā as well as his romantic reunion with his wife Sītā.
But dark clouds gather as Rāma, confronted by scandal over Sītā’s time in captivity under the lustful Rāvaa, makes the agonizing decision to banish his beloved wife, now pregnant. As Rāma continues as king, marvelous tales and events unfurl, illustrating the benefits of righteous rule and the perils that await monarchs who fail to address the needs of their subjects.
The Uttarakāa has long served as a point of social and religious controversy largely for its accounts of the banishment of Sītā, as well as of Rāma’s killing of a low-caste ascetic. The translators’ introduction provides a full discussion of these issues and the complex reception history of the Uttarakāa. This translation of the critical edition also includes exhaustive notes and a comprehensive bibliography.

Robert P. Goldman is the William and Catherine Magistretti Distinguished Professor of Sanskrit and Indian studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and general editor of the Rāmāyaa Translation Project. Sally J. Sutherland Goldman is senior lecturer in Sanskrit at the University of California, Berkeley, and associate editor of the Rāmāyaa Translation Project.

- Robert P. Goldman & Sally J. Sutherland Goldman


What We Are Reading Today: Stripped Bare: The Art of Animal Anatomy by David Bainbridge

Stripped Bare
Updated 20 September 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Stripped Bare: The Art of Animal Anatomy by David Bainbridge

  • Stripped Bare brings together some of the most arresting images ever produced, from the earliest studies of animal form to the technicolor art of computer-generated anatomies

For more than 2,000 years, comparative anatomy — the study of anatomical variation among different animal species — has been used to make arguments in natural philosophy, reinforce religious dogma, and remind us of our own mortality. This stunningly illustrated compendium traces the intertwined intellectual and artistic histories of comparative anatomy from antiquity to today.

Stripped Bare brings together some of the most arresting images ever produced, from the earliest studies of animal form to the technicolor art of computer-generated anatomies. David Bainbridge draws on representative illustrations from different eras to discuss the philosophical, scientific, and artistic milieus. He vividly describes the unique aesthetics of each phase of anatomical endeavor, providing new insights into the exquisite anatomical drawings of Leonardo and Albrecht Dürer in the era before printing, Jean Héroard’s cutting and cataloging of the horse during the age of Louis XIII, the exotic pictorial menageries of the Comte de Buffon in the 18th century, anatomical illustrations from Charles Darwin’s voyages, lavish symmetries of ErnstHaeckel’s prints, and much, much more.

Featuring a wealth of breathtaking color illustrations throughout, Stripped Bare is a panoramic tour of the intricacies of vertebrate life as well as an expansive history of the peculiar and beautiful ways humans have attempted to study and understand the natural world.