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Philosophische Fakultät - Jahrgang 2016


Titel On Presenting Characters and the Representation of Persons
A Narratological Study of Characters in Narrative Suttas of the Majjhima Nikāya
Autor Bruno Galasek
Publikationsform Dissertation
Abstract The present doctoral dissertation constitutes a detailed study of the literary presentation of persons in selected texts of the sacred collection of texts of early Indian Buddhism called the Pali Canon. Individual texts in this collection are called suttas and they exhibit all the characteristics of traditional narrative texts, complete with an Introduction, a story which relates events or happenings in the Buddha's teaching career in the main part, and an ending with a proper closure. This study is subdivided into three parts. Part I lays the theoretical foundation for the clarification of the question what kind of relationship exists between the literary characters a reader encounters in the suttas (e.g. such well-known characters as Angulimala) and the characteristic way in which the suttas represent real persons. Part II introduces the method used in this study. The discipline of narratology, and in particular the categories of applied narratology or narratological textual analysis and the narratology of literary characters, offers excellent analytical tools for a detailed study of the suttas. Part III, the main part, presents detailed studies of three individual suttas of the so-called Collection of Middle Length Discourses (Majjhima Nikaya) of the Buddha of the Pali Canon. By applying the tools introduced in Part II, the Ghatikara Sutta, the Angulimala Sutta and the Piyajatika Sutta are synchronically analysed in small steps with regard to their narrative progression and the presentation of characters. The new insights thus won into the composition and the meaning of these suttas and the interpretation of their characters are summarised in separate conclusions. As a general conclusion, the findings of the analyses carried out in Part III suggest that although the characters presented in the Pali suttas cannot be regarded as realistic portraits of actual persons in a modern sense, the reader/listener is often left with a vivid, life-like impression of certain characters. The suttas accomplish this effect through a skilful arrangement of the narrative's progression and the employment of 'internal focalization' - a narrative technique that grants readers/listeners access to characters' minds. The implication of this finding may be that the particular of narration exhibited in the Pali suttas reflects a new view or understanding of the individual in an ancient Indian environment that was characterised by social and environmental changes. Furthermore, the suttas are an expression of an ancient Indian tradition of storytelling that is deserving of an appropriate place in world literature.
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© Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Bonn | Veröffentlicht: 22.07.2016