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Record number: WCP5020

Sent by:
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent to:
Romesh Chunder Dutt
8 March 1899

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Corfe View, Parkstone, Dorset to Romesh Chunder Dutt [none given] on 8 March 1899.

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06 February 2013 by Catchpole, Caroline


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Gupta, Jnanendra N. (1911). Life and Work of Romesh Chunder Dutt, C.I.E.. J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, London. [p. 268-269]

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[[1]]1 [p. 268]

Parkstone, Dorset,

8th March 1899.

My dear Sir,--Very many thanks for the copy of the large edition of your translation of the "Mahabharata." It is very elegant and well worthy of the great poem, and I hope will have a large sale. I waited to finish reading the poem before writing to you, and I have also read the earlier books over again with even greater pleasure than at first. One wants to know the characters and all the chief ideas of such a poem before it can be duly appreciated, hence a second reading is necessary. I have noted, while reading, a number of places where I think the wording can be improved or the meaning better expressed, and also a few press errors. I enclose you notes of all these, with new readings suggested in many cases, which I hope may be of use to you in correcting for a new edition.

The "Story of Savitri" is the gem of the whole poem, and I cannot recall anything in poetry more beautiful, or any higher teaching as to the sanctity of love and marriage. We have really not advanced one step beyond this old-world people in our ethical standards. How fine and lofty, too, is Krishna's exposition of a king's duties at the end of Book III. Draupadi's [[2]] [p. 269] plaint and Dhrita-Rashtra's kindness are also very fine, and the acceptance of slavery by these warlike princes on a point of honour is grand, though we may consider it excessive.

The least satisfactory part of the poem is the fact of Draupadi, after having accepted Arjun, becoming the wife of Judhishthir. Considering her character, that seems very extraordinary. Was she married to Arjun or Judhishthir? I cannot believe that she became the wife of five in common. I wish you had translated the main part of the wedding ceremony. Also the great game of dice, which must surely lend itself to some fine poetry. But, even as you give it, it is a grand poem.--Believe me, yours very faithfully,

Alfred Wallace.


1. Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Second of three letters to R. C. Dutt: two on his translation of the epic poem 'Mahabharata,' and one on his book Famines in India. Printed in the 1911 biography Life and Work of Romesh Chunder Dutt C.I.E., by Jnanendra N. Gupta.


This transcript originates from Charles H. Smith’s The Alfred Russel Wallace Page website (http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/index1.htm): See http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S690AA.htm

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