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  • For the People

    Garrett Field

    Chapter from the book: Field, G. 2017. Modernizing Composition: Sinhala Song, Poetry, and Politics in Twentieth-Century Sri Lanka.


    Until the mid-1950s, Sinhalese poets and songwriters hesitated to create modern styles formally linked with pre-modern Sinhala folk or literary traditions. They tended to regard such traditions as unsuitable sources for present-day expression. Chapter 5 examines how songwriter Madawala Ratnayake (1929–1997) and poet Gunadasa Amarasekara (b. 1929) altered this tendency. It describes how Ratnayake and Amarasekara engaged with formal features—poetic meters, lexicon, and grammar—from orally transmitted folk poems (jana kavi) and the works that court poets or Buddhist monks wrote originally on palm-leaf manuscripts between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries. The songs and poems studied in this chapter are considered instances of what Michael Riffaterre calls intratextuality, where the intertext is partly encoded within the text but conflicts with it due to stylistic or semantic differences. Chapter 5 thus seeks to highlight how Ratnayake and Amarasekara’s poems and songs simultaneously evoked and departed from Sinhala folk and literary sources.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Field, G. 2017. For the People. In: Field, G, Modernizing Composition. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.27.f

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

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    Published on March 22, 2017


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