Vetaal & Vikram

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Vetaal & Vikram

Vetaal & Vikram

Riddles of the Undead

By: Gayathri Prabhu

audio performed by: Mala Mangla
genre: Fiction - Short Stories
publication date:10/19/2021
Sample not available


''This riddle can end in two ways: speech and defeat, or silence and death.'

Vetaal and Vikram is a playful retelling of one of India's most celebrated cycles of stories. The narrative of King Vikram and the Vetaal is located within the Kathasaritsagara, an 11th-century Sanskrit text. The Vetaal, who is neither living nor dead, is a consummate storyteller, and Vikram is a listener who can neither speak nor stay silent. Together they are destined to walk a labyrinth of stories in the course of a moonless night in a cremation ground.

In 1870, 11 of the Vetaal's stories were adapted to English by the famed scholar-explorer Richard Francis Burton, who tailored them to his audience's Gothic taste. Vetaal and Vikram is a contemporary response that includes Burton within its storytelling folds. Fantastical and delightful, this retelling dissolves the lines between speaker and listener, desire and duty, life and death.