Stories And Histories – Gananath Obeyesekere


Price – Rs. 850.00

Publication- Sarasavi, Sri Lanka

“In this work entitled Stories and Histories: Sri Lankan pasts and the dilemmas of narrative representation I emphasize, as in my other writings, the tentativeness of historical knowledge.  History in my thinking, as with some of my professional colleagues, is something in the making and it was Max Weber who with great insight mentioned the tentativeness of historical knowledge and hence its vulnerability.   In this scheme of things there is no soul or a fixed entity or a changeless Self that passes through time.  As a soul-less being and someone born and raised as a Buddhist I find that an attractive proposition to live-by. And so, would I think some European thinkers who heralded the on-coming twentieth century, notably such persons as Ludwig Wittgenstein and his critic Bertrant Russell. So also with many fated to live in our own times wherein ancient knowledge has become time-worn, or shall I say with Thomas Hardy “time-torn,” affirming with the great poet that we are all time-torn beings whether we are fated to ignore or by-pass that often unpalatable truth, a truth that some of us have been nurtured in irrespective of our formal religious affiliations.

             Please note that for the moment diacritics are not always consistently included in this text.  Also note that the distinction between the Mahāvaṃsa and the Cūlavaṃsa was made by the great scholar Wilhelm Geiger.  By contrast the indigenous convention treats the Mahāvaṃsa as a continuing narrative, albeit written by different authors.   It is important therefore to know that the so-called Cūlavaṃsa begins with chapter 37.  Because of the importance of Geiger’s work we might also employ Geiger’s distinction if occasion demands.  But for me the Mahāvaṃsa is the great text whose chronology I will employ, albeit with some criticisms based on our current historical knowledge.”

Excerpts – The Preface By Gananath Obeyesekere

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