Each of the ten princes has several adventures on his quest to be reunited with the crown-prince. Variegated violence and sorcery figure in their exploits, but love affairs are even more prominent. Commentators have lambasted Dandin's heroes for their antiheroic, apparently random, escapades, while in fact the architecture of his plot reveals an elegant, instructive construction.
What Ten Young Men Did is a coming-of-age novel from the seventh century CE. In combat and in the bedroom, ten individuals juggle virtue and vice on their heroic progress from adolescence to maturity. Dandin's work is autobiographical in two senses: each of the young men narrates their personal experiences, while the author could not have written with such confident realism had he not had many of the same picaresque adventures in his native South India and beyond.
Co-published by New York University Press and the JJC Foundation
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