There is little doubt that Kālidāsa is one of the most celebrated poets not only in Sanskrit literature but in all of South Asian history. His works represent the acme of Sanskrit poetry and became the model for subsequent poets in Sanskrit as well as most of the major languages of the region. Despite his celebrity and the reverence for his works, very little is definitively known about Kālidāsa. Based on tradition and meagre references to his own life in his works, most scholars agree that he lived in early 5th century CE in the city of Ujjain, located roughly at the center of the Indian peninsula.
Abhijnanasakuntala (The Recognition of Shakuntala), is based on an episode taken from the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata. Kālidāsa retains the basic plot line of the episode but alters it in key ways to adapt it to the stage and make it more romantic. The story revolves around a beautiful maiden named Shakuntala who is the daughter of an ascetic sage and a heavenly nymph. Abandoned by her parents, she was raised in the hermitage of another sage who found her in the care of a flock of “shakunta” birds. Hence, he named her Shakuntala, i.e., protected by shakunta birds. One day, she falls in love with a visiting king named Dushyant who gives her a ring as the token of their love and promises to return to take her with him. In his absence Shakuntala gives birth to a son. Due to a curse, he forgets about her and only recalls her when he encounters the ring again after many years. Their son, Bharata, goes on to become the first emperor of India whose descendants are the protagonists of the Mahabharata.
Of all his works, Kālidāsa’s Abhijnanasakuntala became the most world-renowned after it was translated into English by Sir William Jones in Calcutta in 1789. Translations in German and French appeared subsequently. The play was to be translated into all these languages, and many more, numerous times by prominent linguists and indologists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Among these is the translation featured here by the famous indologist Sir Monier Monier-Williams.
Scholarly interest in Sanskrit in European and American academia is not only due to the language’s own rich literary tradition but also because it is the sacred language of the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religious traditions. Even though the Buddhist and Jain traditions initially used other languages they eventually switched to Sanskrit, as it was the language of high culture, philosophy, and scholarly discourse in ancient India. The linguistic influence of Sanskrit on local South Asian languages is comparable to Latin and ancient Greek in Europe.
Vedic Sanskrit, an ancient form of Sanskrit in which the Vedas, the most ancient Hindu scriptures, are composed, is an important source for the study of the evolution of Indo-European languages. In fact, having been orally composed between 1500 and 1200 BCE, the Vedas are among the oldest literary creations in any Indo-European language.
The study and teaching of Sanskrit at UC Berkeley goes back to the 1890s and includes an impressive list of world renowned scholars and interest in Kālidāsa has also been keenly pursued here. Among others, Professor Arthur W. Ryder, Professor of Sanskrit, published a translation of a selection of Kālidāsa’s works in 1912 that included Abhijñānaśākuntala. This translation became the basis for a performance of the play in the Greek Theater in 1914. The play continues to be widely performed into the present day. Today, Professor Robert P. Goldman is UC Berkeley’s Magistretti Distinguished Professor of Sanskrit. He is also the director, general editor, and principal translator of the recently published multi-volume critical edition of a fully annotated English translation of Valmiki’s famous epic, Ramayana, and has received many awards and fellowships.
Contribution by Adnan Malik
Curator and Cataloger for the South Asia Collection
South/Southeast Asia Library
Special thanks to Sally Sutherland Goldman, Senior Lecturer in Sanskrit
Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies
Title: Śakuntalā, a Sanskrit drama, in seven acts. The Deva-Nāgari recension of the text, ed. with literal English translations of all the metrical passages, schemes of the metres and notes, critical and explanatory by Monier Williams.
Imprint: Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1876.
Language Family: Indo-European, Indo-Aryan
Source: HathiTrust Digital Library (UC Berkeley)
Other online editions:
- Translations of Shakuntala and Other Works by Kālidāsa (Internet Archive)
- Monier-Williams translation and Sanskrit text (2nd ed.) (Internet Archive)
Print edition at Berkeley:
- Śakuntalā, a Sanskrit drama, in seven acts. The Deva-Nāgari recension of the text, ed. Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1876.
The Languages of Berkeley is a dynamic online sequential exhibition celebrating the diversity of languages that have advanced research, teaching and learning at the University of California, Berkeley. It is made possible with support from the UC Berkeley Library and is co-sponsored by the Berkeley Language Center (BLC).
From our University Librarian
Open letter: Elsevier access suspended
TO: The UC Berkeley academic community
FROM: Jeff MacKie-Mason, University Librarian and Professor
RE: Elsevier access suspended
July 10, 2019
The University of California has been out of contract with Elsevier since January, but until now the publisher continued to allow access to 2019 articles via its web platform, ScienceDirect. As of today, July 10, UC’s direct access to new Elsevier articles has been discontinued.
What is affected: Members of the UC community no longer have direct access to:
- 2019 articles in all Elsevier journals
- Older articles in certain journals (download the list)
What is not affected: Articles published before 2019 in most Elsevier journals (covering about 95% of historical usage) should continue to be available via ScienceDirect.
Please note that the process for discontinuing access is complex, so access to specific journals or articles may fluctuate until Elsevier’s rollout of these changes is complete.
The systemwide faculty Senate has encouraged stakeholders across UC to use alternative access methods or contact their campus library for assistance in obtaining articles, and to refrain from any new independent subscriptions to Elsevier journals at this time. “By ‘holding the line,’” the Senate leadership writes, “the UC can help change the system of scholarly communication for the betterment of all.”
How to get the articles you need
Information about other ways to access Elsevier articles is available on the Library’s website and summarized below. There are several options — plus, the Library is always here to help.
- Use tools like Google Scholar, Unpaywall, and Open Access Button to quickly find open access copies, when available.
- Email the corresponding author listed in the abstract to request a copy.
- Use the interlibrary loan request form (any request for content no longer licensed through Elsevier will automatically be placed into a special priority queue).
- Contact the Library at email@example.com.
What happens next?
We will be carefully evaluating the impact of losing access to new articles on ScienceDirect over the coming months, and will do our best to ensure that you have access to the articles you need. Meanwhile, UC is hoping to re-enter formal negotiations with Elsevier if the publisher indicates that they are willing to discuss a contract that integrates the university’s goals of containing costs and facilitating open access to UC research.
If you have any questions or need help accessing an article, please don’t hesitate to contact the Library at firstname.lastname@example.org at any time.
Professor, School of Information and Professor of Economics
The MLA International Bibliography and the MLA Directory of Periodicals will now be located solely on the EBSCO platform. The interface looks different, however, the content and the functionality have not changed. The Bibliography indexes journal articles and other critical scholarship in both North American, Latin American and International literatures, languages, linguistics, and folklore.
Literature Online (LION) also has a new interface. Here you can find the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature (ABELL), digitized poetry, prose, and drama, reference resources on literature, and Cambridge Companions to literature. The MLA International Bibliography is no longer available in LION.
As the librarian for Latin American collections in the Doe Library, I find it rewarding to collaborate with my counterpart librarians in Bancroft Library. It is important for such collaborations to thrive so that our collections can continue to prosper and meet the needs of our users in future years. To this end, I was able to contribute some funding towards a purchase of a rare Mexican book that is entitled, “ Primera parte del sermonario, dominical, y sanctoral, en lengua mexicana : contiene las Dominicas, que ay desde la Septuagesima, hasta la vltima de Penthecostes, platica para los que comulgan el iueues sancto, y Sermon de Passion, pasqua de Resurreccion, y del Espiritusanto, con tres sermosnes [sic] del sanctissimo sacrame[n]to / compuesto por el P. maestro Fr. Iuan de Miiangos, de la Oaden [sic] del glorioso Padre, y Doctor dela Iglesia. S. Augustin.“. The book was published in 1624 in Mexico. The rare books are usually very expensive and pooling of resources is often helpful when it comes to purchasing such items. The book’s printer is Alcázar, Juan Blanco de, 1620-1657, and it will be made available to users in Bancroft Library.
The image below is of a book with the same title that is held by the JCB Library and it is from the Internet Archive. I was fortunate to take some pictures of Bancroft Library’s copy due to new wonderful changes in the new permissions policy at UC Berkeley. Thanks to Rachael, Michael and our colleagues in the Scholarly Communications office. Please click here to access some select photos of the item.
The book is in Nauhatl language. And its description is as follows: , 564,  pages : portrait (woodcut) ; 20 cm (4to)
Note On title page, date of publication precedes bookseller statement. Collection of sermons for the church year, in Nahuatl.
A second part, promised in the introduction, was never completed; see Santiago Vela, G. Ensayo de una biblioteca ibero-americana de la Orden de San Agustin, volume 5, page 495.
Signatures: [[par.]]⁴ 2[par.]⁴ 3[par.]1 A-4N⁴.
Title vignette (portrait of St. Augustin, surrounded by a Latin verse beginning “Hoc opus Aurelio patri …”); image of a saint on title page verso; head- and tail-pieces; historiated initials.
Printed marginal notes.
“Tabla de los sirmones que contiene este libro”: page ; “Tabla de los lugares asi de la Sagrada escriptura [in Latin]”: pages [566-590]; “Tabla remissiva a otros Euangelios, assi de Dominicas, como de Santos [in Latin and Spanish]”: pages [591-639]; “Phrases, y modos de hablar elegantes y metaphoricos, de los Yndios mexicanos … [in Nahuatl]”: pages [639-652].
For fair use purposes, as the book is in public domain, I am embedding the screenshot of the JCB’s copy that is posted through the Internet Archive.
Here’s a midsummer post to divert your attention to a fun travel guide written by an extraordinary Cal alumna (Class of 1916) and her sister Louise. In case you haven’t heard, the Thérèse Bonney papers and photographic archive have been processed and are available for use in The Bancroft Library:
- Finding Aid to the Thérèse Bonney Papers
- Finding Aid to the Thérèse Bonney Photograph Collection, circa 1850-circa 1955 (bulk 1930-1945) (2177 photos online)
Other books by Bonney can be found in the Main Stacks, or online through the HathiTrust Digital Library:
- Bonney, Thérèse. Europe’s Children, 1939 to 1943. New York: Rhode Publishing Company, 1944.
- Bonney, Thérèse, and Louise Bonney. French Cooking for American Kitchens. New York: Robert M. McBride & Co, 1929.
- Bonney, Thérèse, and Louise Bonney. A Guide to the Restaurants of Paris. New York: R.M. McBride, 1929.
Disgrace is a novel set in post-apartheid South Africa and narrated by an unfavorable man who is unseated from his job as a professor due to an affair he has been having with (his assault of) a vulnerable student in his class. He then moves to live on the farm of his daughter Lucy, where the tensions of a society that has been unbalanced play out around him. Disgrace carefully explores how shifting power dynamics in the strict racial hierarchy of a racist society can intimately affect and alter individuals’ lives. From a writer’s perspective, Disgrace is absolutely fascinating in the way it depicts the blurring of lines between what is right and wrong, good and bad, just and unjust, and also in its portrayal of characters who are difficult to like but equally difficult to condemn.
At first I thought I was fighting to save the rubber trees;
then I thought I was fighting to save the Amazon rainforest.
Now I realize I am fighting for humanity.
– Chico Mendes (1944-1988)
The Bancroft Library is pleased to announce that a series of additions to the ongoing Rainforest Action Network records is now open and accessible to researchers. The processing of the Rainforest Action Network records is part of a two-year grant project funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to make available a range of archival collections relating to environmental movements in the West. A leading resource in the documentation of U.S. environmental movements, The Bancroft Library is home to the records of many significant environmental organizations and the papers of a range of environmental activists.
Rainforest Action Network was founded in 1985 by Randy “Hurricane” Hayes and Mike Roselle as a San Francisco based non-profit grassroots environmental group with a mission to protect and preserve the world’s forests and defend the human rights of indigenous people and others affected by unjust land grabs and the depletion of natural resources. Rainforest Action Network’s direct action, education and marketing campaigns apply pressure to governments and corporations to halt illegal logging, manufacturing, selling and use of old growth trees and tropical forests.
The global breadth of Rainforest Action Network’s activities range from Old Growth campaigns in Northern California, the Pacific Northwest and Canada to Tropical Timber campaigns to protect forests and indigenous rights in Central and South America, Africa, Tasmania and Southeast Asia. They also include the Global Finance campaign which organized and supported civil disobedience during the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle, Washington in 1999.
The Bancroft Library has been collecting Rainforest Action Network records since 2006 and the newly opened additions document the group’s campaigns primarily in the 1990s-2000s. Future additions to the records are expected.
The Soviet Union was often portrayed for all sorts of reasons to be an evil empire by many politicians. While one one hand such comparisons escape the more complex nuanced picture that the Soviet Union and the “Soviet society” represented. The Soviet Union was portrayed as a laconic society that was deprived of civilities that the West cherished and possessed. The Soviet Union was considered on a certain level to be fashionless where most of the women did not have access to basic contraptions of cosmetics and female hygiene products. And that the commercials or the advertisements were prohibited. The fashion in the Soviet Union often emulated the West but with some delay. The picture that the Soviet Society cannot be described using single stereotypes that often are used for political reasons, instead the picture was more complex.
One cannot ignore the Soviet Union’s domestic policies such as rights to women’s reproductive health, right to vote, right to literacy and work along with their male counterparts were forward-looking within a restrictive ideological framework of the country. The ethnic female population of the Soviet Union that consisted of several different nationalities had equal rights like their European counterparts from the Baltics, Belarus, European Russia, and Ukraine. Despite the ideological entrapment, there were levels of flexibilities that its citizens had with many limitations. And by no means, the Soviet Union was a paradise for the workers and peasants.
The Soviet Women’s journals have been indexed by my colleague Ms. Diana Greene who is librarian-emerita at the NYU. I am grateful to my colleagues Slavic Cataloguer Ms. Jean Dickinson for her quick work with cataloging and Ms. Elena Zaslavsky for her quick processing of these wonderful artifacts of the past through our order division.
I am glad to report that we were able to acquire this rare journal for UC Berkeley’s Library. The journal is cataloged and the record can be found here. Since my arrival at UC Berkeley in 2012, I have focused on building the Soviet Women related collection at the library. Please see the images of these journals by clicking on the icon below or here. Please note that the Soviet Union’s printing technologies of the thirties had several limitations and the Soviets did not have the advantage of the Photoshop and the other technologies of the sort. Nevertheless, Zhenskiĭ zhurnal / Женский журнал represents one small step towards expressing the constrained ideals of Soviet Women under the watchful eye of the Stalinist repressive tactics. And one can only wonder about the staged photos and stylized graphics of this journal.
The Library has recently added 731 titles mostly in French but also Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and English to its ebook holdings through OpenEdition — an interdisciplinary open access initiative in France. Now, more than 4,700 academic ebooks in the humanities and social sciences are discoverable through the portal or through the Library’s catalogs permitting researchers to benefit from a range of DRM-free formats, some optimized specifically for e-readers, tablets, and smart phones (ePub, PDF, etc.). OpenEdition’s Freemium program makes it possible for UC Berkeley to participate in an acquisitions policy that supports openness and sustainable development of scholarly resources such as these.
Visit OpenEdition to read even more open access ebooks.
The Library recently acquired the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive, a collection of unedited, primary source interviews with survivors and witnesses of genocide and mass violence. The bulk of the testimonies included relate to the Holocaust, as collecting these was the original purpose of the project. Now the archive has expanded to include testimonies from the 1994 Rwandan Tutsi Genocide, the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, the Armenian Genocide, the Cambodian Genocide, the Guatemalan Genocides, the ongoing South Sudan Civil war, the Central African Republic conflict and anti-Rohingya mass violence in Myamar.