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Extra resources for Comparative Cultural Studies and Michael Ondaatje's Writing (Comparative Cultural Studies)
In Kemper 136). Indeed, what is perhaps most noteworthy in the controversy surrounding Senerat Paranavitana’s discovery and translation of the Vallipuram inscription, according to Gunawardana, is the fact that rival parties “were unanimous in their acceptance of the premise that conditions prevalent eighteen centuries ago were germane to the political issue of their own times” (1995, 16). As critics observe, the war which has been fought between the armed Tamil separatists and the Sinhala-dominated government has been “accompanied by rhetorical wars fought over archaeological sites, place-name etymologies, and the interpretation of ancient inscriptions” (Little 3).
While he dismantles bombs effortlessly in the realm of straightforward choices, he is dismayed to find himself being drawn into love. During the war, the sapper had found statues to sleep with, grieving stone angels to watch over him: “he had giving his trust only to a race of stones” (104). But Hana had drawn him inside something “like a painting” (104), and it “annoyed” him that, by staying with him when he had defused a bomb in the garden, she had “made him owe her something. Making him feel in retrospect responsible for her” (104).
Obeyesekere goes on to characterize Paranavitana’s and others’ references to Aryan pedigree as “a hypothesis no longer acceptable to serious historians” (Obeyesekere qtd. in Tambiah 1986, 183–84). The parallels drawn in the novel between Palipana and Paranavitana are even more striking when one considers that in 1939 Paranavitana discovered and translated the gold foil Vallipuram inscription, offering a highly controversial reading of the text (see Gunawardana 1995, 10–16). Ironically, groups “on either sides of the barricades” found Paranavitana’s 1939 view useful for their purposes; one group has seen in the reading of the inscription justification for Sinhalese domination over the Jaffna Peninsula (Gunawardana 1995, 15).