Nell Shapiro Hawley

Nov 23, 2022

On "The Mahābhārata"

A Discussion with Nell Shapiro Hawley

New Books Network 2022

When it comes to epic poetry, there’s a strong case to be made that the Ancient Indian story the Mahābhārata is the most epic. Clocking in at around 100,000 verses, the Mahābhārata is roughly seven times The Iliad and The Odyssey combined. This foundational Hindu text tells the story of a war between two sets of cousins who are fighting over who gets to rule their kingdom. The text is said to contain the universe, but it is best to leave it unfinished. Bad things are said to befall those who read it from beginning to end. Nell Shapiro Hawley is the Preceptor in Sanskrit at Harvard University and is the co-editor of Many Mahābhāratas (forthcoming from SUNY Press), a collection of eighteen essays on retellings of the Mahābhārata across South Asian languages and literary genres. See more information on our website,

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