Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Recognition of Śakuntalā” as Want to Read:
The Recognition of Śakuntalā
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Recognition of Śakuntalā

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  734 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Kalidasa's play about the love of King Dusyanta for Sakuntala, a monastic girl, is the supreme work of Sanskrit drama by its greatest poet and playwright (c.4th century CE). Overwhelmingly erotic in tone and in performance, The Recognition of Sakuntala aimed to produce an experience of aesthetic rapture in the audience, comparable to certain types of mystical experience.


Paperback, 192 pages
Published November 15th 2001 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 400)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Recognition of Śakuntalā, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Recognition of Śakuntalā

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 24, 2016 Dusty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dusty by: Elizabeth Richmond-Garza
I first read Sakuntala in 2009, when I was a teacher's assistant to a university course on "Masterworks of World Literature." I think the translation by W.J. Johnson, which I read the first time, does a better job conveying the romance of Dushyanta and Sakuntala's forest encounter, but the Arthur W. Ryder translation, which I read the second time, helps the play feel weightier, like a Greek epic. Anyway, I continue to marvel at this story of the conflicts between duty and pleasure, nature and nu ...more
Luther Obrock
May 18, 2007 Luther Obrock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Sanskrit is a hard language to crack, and, from my experience, even harder to translate. It seems that translators usually fall back on one of two methodologies: Some, like Shulman and Heifitz, try to "transcreate," so that often the idea of a verse remains the similar, but the actual words are vastly different. Others try to literally transalte word for word, ending up with a sort of pseudo-Victorian Indologese.

Happily, Somdev Vasudev manages to translate the Shakuntala of Kalidasa in a way tha
Jul 22, 2014 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I used to stalk the local university library alone in the evenings like a kid exploring ancient temple ruins. One night long ago I pulled this Sanskrit masterpiece somewhat flippantly from the shelf at around 7pm and didn't lift my head from it again until the intercom announced the library would be closing in 30 minutes. There is an effect that literature can have that is often shaped by the particulars of the moment in which it was first encountered. We don't only have favorite reads, we also ...more
Mina Soare
Jan 31, 2016 Mina Soare rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theatre, asian
The French Academy can take the Three unities and stuff them.

What is this marvel? In the fifth century AD, a time when theatre was barely accepted in Europe for marketing Christianity, we have a story of drama, crushed hopes, joyful reunions, curses, magic bracelets, nymphs and out-of-stage sex. Patriarchal values aside, this piece is particularly enchanting in comparison with the Greek, Roman formality, before, and French, afterwards.

Dec 15, 2015 arafat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
A good edition and readable translation, with helpful notes and an adequate introduction summarizing the historical context of the play in Sanskrit literature and the current scholarship on its aesthetics (very well referenced!).
Kalidasa: Sakuntala (guptakaudelta 300-700 jaa, suomennos Klaus Karttunen 1988, kannen piirros Virpi Hämeen-Anttila, esittää Indraa) / Sakuntala on neito, joka asuu askeettien erakkolassa ottoisänsä ja tämän biologisten tytärten kanssa. Šakuntalan isä on tietäjä tai vastaava ja äiti taivaallista sukua. Eräänä päivänä erakkolaan saapuu kuningas Dušjanta. Tapahtuu rakastumista ja semisalaista naimisiinmenoa ja kohtalokasta uuden avioparin erkaantumista. Ja taika ettei kuningas tunnista enää ...more
Oct 17, 2016 Razvan added it
Intersant personajul Mahavya: (scutierul printului Dusyanta): se aseamana mult cu Sancho: fricos, gandindu-se doar la castigul imediat, amuzant chiar

Apoi pasajele in care Dusyanta o descrie pe sacuntala nu mi se par deloc dulcege. imi place lirismul lor; imi aduce amint de Eminescu mai degraba

" O, fata inteleapta, ce potrivit raspunzi...
Acest vesmant, cu noduri pe umerii rotunzi,
Si faldurii de scoarta, tot farmecul i-l tin,
Ascuns, ca frunza moarta un lujer zvelt si fin;
Dar chiar de-l pui alaturi
Dec 04, 2016 Lucas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some really extraordinary poetry and a quite fascinating act structure. The introduction was fantastic, and really helped me to understand how to go about reading my first ever Sanskrit play.
The Recognition of Shakuntala by Kalidasa

There is a list of books that we should try to read, because they are supposed to be the best ever written. You can find the list on my blog somewhere, but easier to find would be the Guardian site.
I am not sure though that it is the Guardian who actually compiled it, for I think I have read somewhere that it was first put together in Scandinavia, with critics, writers and scholars. One name I remember is Umberto Ecco, who supposedly took part in the sele
Jan 28, 2014 QS rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, classic, play, 2014
Kind of having trouble deciding how I feel about this play. I'm torn between wanting to look at it from my usual plot/character/enjoyment standpoint and wanting to approach it from a more, uh, I guess literary? point. I definitely enjoyed it, as I accidentally finished it in one sitting, but the plot and characters are just kind On the other hand, I want to take a step back and look at it through the lens of history, and take the time to consider the caste system and the intentions of ...more
Nov 29, 2016 Carolyn rated it really liked it
The Recognition of Śakuntalā. #Kālidāsa An interpretation of the Shakuntala myth reflects the values of Classical #India. #gender & #caste

Reviewed @reallyReads
Gijs Grob
Oud-Indisch toneelstuk in zeven bedrijven over de mythische koning Dusyanta die tijdens een jachtpartij verliefd wordt op de mooie kluizenaarsdochter Sakuntala (Eerste bedrijf).

(view spoiler)
Shraddha Datta
Mar 29, 2016 Shraddha Datta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sakuntala is a huge cultural influence of India written by Kalidasa. This work's brilliance lies in the small poems that the characters use as a means of expressing themselves, or any critical viewpoint of the story (or just for descriptive purposes). Sakuntala, for me, was worth reading only because of the well-translated poems of Kalidasa's thinking. The entire play is about being joined, then separated, and then again joined. That's simple enough. But the philosophy behind it is: it is like ...more
Mohammad Ali
کلیت داستانی - آن گاه که به صورت نمادین نگریسته شود - و گاهی اشعار طبیعت محوری که در میان گفتگوها نقل می شوند، برای من جذاب بودند. حضور شخصیت بذله گو هم جالب بود، هر چند هم ظهور محدودی داشت و هم در ترجمه آن گونه که می شد شیرین و طنزآمیز در نیامده بود.

وضع کیفی ترجمه متوسط به بالا است - از نظر زبان فارسی - اما ظهور ادبی چندانی ندارد. بهتر بود تلاش بیشتری برای ادبی کردن ترجمه به کار می رفت.

برای من اصولا حضور نفرین آن راهب به مثابه عامل فراموشی دوشیانت مهم است. این ترفند نشان از نگاه مثبت به ذات ان
Jun 14, 2009 Dirk rated it really liked it
This play was written in Sanskrit in northern India in the fourth or firth century CE. Sanskrit has a rich dramatic tradition dating back to the fourth Century BCE and this play is generally considered the greatest example. It is a Romance, where the king and the adopted daughter of a forest ascetic fall in love, and after some vicissitudes, live happily ever after. The purpose of Sanskrit literature is (on the level of glib generalization) to evoke one of a list of moods (the razas) in an ...more
Brittany Webb
Jul 26, 2016 Brittany Webb rated it really liked it
I read this play in college in a History of Theatre class, and recently decided to reread it. A king falls in love with a maiden in a hermitage, marries her, gets her pregnant, leaves, and then is cursed to forget about her. The imagery in this play is beautiful. Kalidasa is widely regarded as one of the greatest poets in India, and it shows. I love the way he uses nature to invoke feeling in his audience. It is unfortunate that many people in the West are unfamiliar with his work. It is also ...more
Sep 09, 2016 Sara rated it really liked it
The book vividly depicts the relationships between the couple—king Dushyanta has the power of initiative in the relationships, while heroine Sakuntala is desirable owing to her beauty. The girl lives in an ascetic hermitage, and she falls in love with the King, the curse causes the King forget his secret marriage with the Sakuntala. Fortunately, the signet ring reminds him of the past and the couple reunion in the end. I find it surprising how dramatic the story is, for example, Sakuntala is the ...more
Apr 27, 2015 Quiet rated it did not like it
Not really sure what the point of this play is. Doesn't seem like any character is at actual fault, and there is certainly no "recognition" that occurs.
Two dopey in love who are mildly kept a part from each other for a short while because of some completely undefined, and poorly deviced, magical spell (?) that occurs off-screen and has no context to why it is there.

A lousy play that is an established classic for the sole sake of its age. In my opinion, throwing this thing in the bin is past due.
Jul 18, 2014 scribes23 rated it it was amazing

Kalidasa is India's greatest Sanskrit poet and playwright.

This work, unlike other, literary classics, is light, very approachable and readable, as if it was written for modern times.

It is very ahead compared to other works of its time, that is why, up to this date, It is still considered as the greatest, and I don't think it's going to change anytime soon

Kalidasa's author voice is amazing, writing in great humor. Reading Kalidasa's work is a wonderful engaging experience for me.
Sep 29, 2013 Sara rated it really liked it
I'm giving this 4 stars instead of 5 more as a punishment to myself than to the work, which is apparently, in terms of cultural relevance, etc, the greatest work of Sanskrit literature. Unfortunately, despite a brief stint living in India I have neither the literary background nor the cultural upbringing to truly appreciate it. It's wonderful, extremely beautiful and exquisitely structured, and I'd love to see it performed someday.
Nov 03, 2010 DC rated it really liked it
A very nice read! Kalidasa's play does quite give justice to Shakuntala, whose story seems short and in need of necessary details. The notes in this edition (as well as Shakuntala's story in the Mahabharata) were very, very helpful in understanding the story better, too.

Oct. 9, 2010:
I can already tell I'm in for a good read, with just a few pages in. The words are so lovely, and the story so simply romantic. Can't wait to read more :D
Nicolas Shump
Jun 01, 2012 Nicolas Shump rated it it was ok
The play Sakoontala is charming, sweet, and romantic much like Romeo and Juliet. Sakoontala endures much for her husband, but I feel the play develops her character and that of the others well.
I think the scene between the king and his son rings true as they interact as you would expect a father and son to.
The only criticism is the curse involved in the play. It seems arbitrary and forced as a plot device.
Sasha Santiago
Dec 08, 2015 Sasha Santiago rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-for-school
Read this for my Global Lit. class and I really enjoyed it. I was not looking forward to reading this at first but once I got used to the writing I really liked it. Great story, a bit overdramatic (but that's pretty much how every text during this time was) and sentimental.
Mar 18, 2012 Sierra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not particularly exciting, but Kalidasa is superb at manipulating emotions....I laughed so hard at some of the opinions expressed by his characters. Especially the "He's handsome, so he's gotta be nice!" train of thought.
Oct 07, 2011 Ren rated it it was amazing
The style reminds me a lot of Song of Solomon from the Bible; it deals with a lot of poetry. Beautifully written.
Does this great drama requires an introduction...???
This is simply one of the greatest piece of literature ever composed...Goethe considered it the greatest masterpiece....
Aravind Ingalalli
Dec 04, 2011 Aravind Ingalalli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The beauty beautified at its best. Austere woman may not have been ascribed so opulently in comparison to the nature anywhere else. Truly, a chef-d'oeuvre of simile.
Alyssa Haverfield
Apr 19, 2016 Alyssa Haverfield rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
A beautiful play, much more pleasing than the story in the Mahābhārata. It is also interesting to see a king who is actually a kind, humble man.
John Yelverton
Aug 30, 2013 John Yelverton rated it really liked it
A cute and rather enjoyable old play. The plot and love story seems predictable today, but that's probably because this was the mold.
Mar 01, 2015 Ferris rated it it was amazing
Written in 400 A.D., this drama is an absolutely lovely combination of prose and poetry, humans and gods, and spirituality and sensuality. It really is all about love, is it not? Such a pleasure!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sakuntala by Kalidasa 1 6 Dec 20, 2013 07:50AM  
  • بوستان سعدی
  • Canti
  • Diary of a Madman and Other Stories
  • Grande Sertão: Veredas
  • The Book of Job
  • History
  • Records of the Grand Historian: Qin Dynasty
  • The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch
  • Romancero gitano
  • The Collected Tales of Edgar Allan Poe
  • Further Confessions of Zeno
  • Poems of Paul Celan
  • Speaking of Siva
  • Gitagovinda of Jayadeva: Love Song of the Dark Lord
  • The Sound of the Mountain
  • Ramayana
  • Mahabharata
  • Tales from the Kathasaritsagara
Kālidāsa (Devanāgarī: कालिदास "servant of Kali") was a renowned Classical Sanskrit writer, widely regarded as the greatest poet and dramatist in the Sanskrit language.

Nothing apart from his works is known with certainty about the life of Kālidāsa, such as where he lived or the dates of his birth and death. According to legend, he was known for his beauty, which brought him to the attention of Prin
More about Kālidāsa...

Share This Book

“Did the great Creator first draw her in a masterpiece,   (9) And then touch life into his art? Or did he make her in his mind alone, Drawing on beauty’s every part? No—considering her singular perfection And her maker’s true omnipotence, I suppose her some quite unique creation In femininity’s treasure house.” 3 likes
More quotes…