Why was Dandin's Mirror of Literature (Kāvyādarśa), a text that swept much of Asia and inspired so many translations, adaptations, commentaries, and literary responses in a variety of languages, so successful? This paper highlights some of the Mirror's key innovative agendas by examining one small section of the work, the passage defining and exemplifying the ornament "condensed speech" (samāsokti). More specifically, the paper examines Dandin's dramatic redefinition of this device in comparison to what we find in the work of his most important predecessors, Bhāmaha and Bhatti. Dandin expanded this ornament to include various types of insinuation, thus making it a powerful suggestive device, not unlike the aesthetic-semantic force that Ānandavardhana later called dhvani. Dandin, moreover, used the subcategories of condensed speech to showcase his new pedagogy and playfully to illustrate the complex metatropic effects of poetry: its ability to play with the precedents of earlier poets and with the underlying poetic convention.
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© Copyright by Fabrizio Serra editor, Paisa, Roma.