Abstract

Literary prose is a late developer in the history of any language and in Marathi, as for most other Indian languages, it does not appear in any significant quantity until the middle of the nineteenth century when the influence of English was beginning to transform a hitherto almost exclusively verse tradition. Before this the use of prose is limited to commentaries, to a few hagiographical works of the Mahānubhāv sect written in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, to historical narratives from the time of Maratha independence and to private and diplomatic correspondence of the same period. Of course, there must always have been a flourishing popular oral literature of fables and ghost stories, adaptations of episodes from the Puranas and the Epics, but these were never written down. Even among the well known Sanskrit story collections, only the Pancatantra is found in an early prose version in Marathi.

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