Jennifer Scheuessler in The New York Times:
When the Loeb Classical Library was founded in 1911, it was hailed as a much-needed effort to make the glories of the Greek and Roman classics available to general readers. Virginia Woolf praised the series, which featured reader-friendly English translations and the original text on facing pages, as “a gift of freedom.” Over time, the pocket-size books, now totaling 522 volumes and counting, became both scholarly mainstays and design-geek fetish objects, their elegant green (Greek) and red (Latin) covers spotted everywhere from the pages of Martha Stewart Living to Mr. Burns’s study on “The Simpsons.” Now, Harvard University Press, the publisher of the Loebs, wants to do the same for the far more vast and dizzyingly diverse classical literature of India, in what some are calling one of the most complex scholarly publishing projects ever undertaken.
The Murty Classical Library of India, whose first five dual-language volumes will be released next week, will include not only Sanskrit texts but also works in Bangla, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Persian, Prakrit, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and other languages. Projected to reach some 500 books over the next century, the series is to encompass poetry and prose, history and philosophy, Buddhist and Muslim texts as well as Hindu ones, and familiar works alongside those that have been all but unavailable to nonspecialists. The Murty will offer “something the world had never seen before, and something that India had never seen before: a series of reliable, accessible, accurate and beautiful books that really open up India’s precolonial past,” said Sheldon Pollock, a professor of South Asian studies at Columbia University and the library’s general editor.