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

Updated 27 August 2018

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: A World Without Work by Daniel Susskind

Updated 23 January 2020

What We Are Reading Today: A World Without Work by Daniel Susskind

A World Without Work is an excellent and timely piece of analysis by Daniel Susskind, who with his father Richard wrote the seminal The Future of the Professions (2015), which explored the impact of digital technologies on employment in the professions.

Anthony Seldon said in a review for newstatesman.com that Susskind “looks at past predictions with a skeptical eye, noting that many earlier warnings of widespread unemployment and disaster were proved wrong.” 

Seldon said Susskind “is far from convinced by a recent survey of leading computer scientists, which concluded there is a 50 per cent chance that new technology will outperform human beings at ‘every task’ within 45 years. Nor has he any truck with the hotheads preaching imminent disaster. He argues that many jobs existing today will not vanish completely and new ones will be established, including those we have not yet imagined.”

The book’s title “is either a threat or a promise, depending on your point of view,” critic Dorian Lynskey commented in a review for theguardian.com.