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Title: 'The Unravelers' : Rasa, becoming, and the Buddhist novel
Author: Barber, Michael
ISNI:       0000 0004 6347 0544
Awarding Body: University of Roehampton
Current Institution: University of Roehampton
Date of Award: 2016
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The Unravelers is a Buddhist novel of literary fiction, which to my knowledge is the first in the last one hundred years to synthesize the Buddhist teachings and values found in the suttas of the Pāli Canon, the theory of ancient Indian kāvya literature, and the latest stylistic and structural innovations of contemporary literary fiction. The narrative follows four characters from the moment of their deaths as they manipulate the process of becoming—the mental act of creating and entering into “worlds”. The novel depicts the characters’ development of dispassion for a variety of realms, resulting in their eventual return to the human world with the motivation necessary to practice the Buddhist path. My critical essay opens with an introduction to kāvya and Theravāda Buddhist concepts that are particularly relevant to the process of creating a fictional world— namely, saṅkhāra (fabrication) and bhava (becoming)—and the inherent karma of writing. Section II “Literary Review” explores narrative modes from Theravāda Buddhist literature and develops them through experimental narrative modes of contemporary literary fiction. Section III discusses the depiction of becoming, fabrication, and dispassion through the novel’s characters. Section IV “Rasa,” explains the theory of how a reader experiences the work’s savor, while relating the use of rasa in The Unravelers to the early Buddhist kāvyas (the Pāli Canon’s Udāna and Dhammapada, and two works by Aśvaghoṣa). Section V evaluates the classic use of Buddhist concepts and metaphors in Aśvaghoṣa’s Handsome Nanda as compared to The Unravelers. Section VI examines Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums as a forerunner to the genre of the Buddhist novel and Keith Kachtick’s Hungry Ghost as archetypal. Section VII concludes by detailing The Unravelers’ contribution to the Buddhist novel.
Supervisor: Jaeger, Peter ; Kahn, Ariel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Buddhism ; Buddhist Literature ; Buddhist Fiction ; Rasa ; Kavya ; Buddhist Romanticism ; Becoming ; Fabrication ; Asvagho?a ; Salinger ; Kerouac ; Theravada