World Sanskrit Conference (WSC) (17th : 2018)

Bhīṣma, an (Un)reliable Narrator Špicová, Zuzana


This paper deals with the concept of (un)reliable narrator and evaluates Bhīṣma’s narration in the Ambopākhyāna of the Mahābhārata with this category in mind. The Ambopākhyāna is divided into six narratives and three different types of narration using the categories of narrator, focalizer and narrative agent/central figure. Bhīṣma is labeled a highly personalized narrator with a limited authority and reliability in the Ambopākhyāna, as opposed to his much more reliable and authoritative status in his other narrations, namely in the Viśvopākhyāna and the Doctrinal Books. Signs of unreliability (instances misreporting and underreporting) are shown in the first narrative, which is comparable to Vaiśaṃpāyana’s narration in the Ādiparvan, and it is suggested that because of it, reliability of other parts the Ambopākhyāna is also open to doubt.

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