Usage de la polysémie: uḷḷuṟai et śleṣa dans la poésie tamoule classique

Title: Usage de la polysémie: uḷḷuṟai et śleṣa dans la poésie tamoule classique
Author: Wilden, Eva
Source document: Études romanes de Brno. 2014, vol. 35, iss. 2, pp. [153]-165
  • ISSN
    1803-7399 (print)
    2336-4416 (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license

Notice: These citations are automatically created and might not follow citation rules properly.

As most poetic traditions do, Tamil employs the literary technique of double entendre (Skt. śleṣa) which can be described as a poetic exploitation of polysemy. The later theoreticians' concept(s) are largely based on discourses from the over-regional reference tradition of Sanskrit, and in the practical domain we find many forms, up to the veritable poems with double narrative thread as recently brought to notice by Y. Bronner. The earlier Tamil tradition has a model of its own under the heading of uḷḷuṟai ("inset" since A.K. Ramanujan) which predominantly pertains to the earlier classical literature of the Caṅkam. Apart from literary theories and their application, however, polysemy is a fact of poetic language interpreters both pre-modern (the commentators) and modern (readers and scholars) had and have to deal with, and very often they do not know whether a double meaning was intended by the author or not. This paper does not only proceed from the great literary works, but also from a number of paratextual stanzas which are found in the wake of such works – invocations, prefatory verses, colophon stanzas – where it is possible to argue that understanding more than one meaning can serve a poetic end : praising not one but two deities, describing at the same time the content of the poem and dedicating it to a god, making a playful meta-poetic statement. A number of examples will be discussed in order to explore the purposes of such double meanings as well as the diagnostic features that lead the reader to suspect them in the first place.
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