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Changing the Terms

Sherry Simon
Paul St-Pierre

Part I. (Post)colonialism and the powers of translation

Chapter 4. Cultural Transmission Through Translation: An Indian Perspective

Shantha Ramakrishna

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1This article is founded on the premise that Indian translators have, through their choice of texts and a well-defined translative project, contributed to changing the terms of cultural transmission and defining the space occupied by various literatures, both foreign and Indian, on the translation scene in India. In an effort to address the urgencies of the time, Indian translators have not traditionally been preoccupied with the question of fidelity; adaptations were and still continue to be quite common. Whereas in the past such adaptations were well received and welcomed by readers as important contributions to the development of language and literature, the modern-day translator and his bilingual critic often attach undue importance to the question of fidelity. In fact, it was precisely the varying perspectives on translation and the diverse strategies adopted by Indian translators which gave birth to the creation and recreation of great epics and masterpieces. In this paper, I shall argue that translations should be assessed against the temper of their times and the translative projects that brought them into existence, and not in terms of whether or not they are faithful to their originals.

Translation as Creation

2Translation is as much a creative activity as literature itself, and creativity is slave only to the dictates of the human mind, which knows no bounds. Consequently, neither creativity nor translation can be conditioned by the equations of power that are incidental to time measurements in history. The factor of power no doubt desperately attempts to mould every sphere in its domain according to its own agenda and its own requirements. Therefore, it is not appropriate to altogether ignore or dilute the efforts—intentioned or imperceptible—of the colonizer to influence translation activity in such a way that it conforms to his own agenda. Illustrative of this, and references thereto have been made in my earlier papers, are the structures built by the British in India with regard to the administration, the judiciary and seats of learning in higher education, institutions which in their own manner have attempted to attach translation to moorings suited to the overall political designs of the colonizer.

3The dispatch on educational matters by the East India Company—still an indispensable reference point for discussion on postcolonial translations—claimed in 1854 that:

the vernacular literature of India will be gradually enriched by the translation of European books, or by the original composition of men whose minds have been imbued with the spirit of European advancement, so that European knowledge may gradually be placed in this manner within the reach of all classes of the people.

4However, colonial intervention could not and did not go beyond the translation of Sanskrit and Arabic classics into English or that of English classics into certain Indian languages. As a result, it was primarily English literature, and not European literature, that was translated. The British took no initiative to promote the translation of European books into Indian languages, nor followed any avowed policy to foster translation among Indian languages. In fact, the monolingual and monoreligious British had a hard time comprehending India’s multilingual and multireligious culture. With societal multilingualism as India’s greatest asset permeating all aspects of life, Indian culture remains hybrid and multilingual: each language is nourished by other languages, both Indian and European, transacting—with vibrant creativity—with the diversity of the outside world. Indian literature is and has always been produced in a linguistic ambience that draws deeply from traditional sources. Traditionally, Indian writers not only write in more than one language, and this, without conscious effort or cultivated scholarship, but also translate their own works and those of other writers. The confluence of languages is and has always been a major impetus for creative writing in India, and this trend persisted, even during the colonial period.

5As Harish Trivedi remarked with regard to translation activity in India in the last quarter of the nineteenth century:

As if in a counteracting compensatory activity [to the large number of English classics that were translated into Indian languages], an equally large number of Sanskrit texts were also translated into the modem Indian languages, often by the same multilingual translators, but, as yet, hardly any works from other Western languages. (1997, 250)

6Of greater significance is the fact that the translation activity engaged in by Indian creative writers ran counter to the agenda of the colonial power, and took the form of a resistance movement. The need of the hour—unshackling foreign domination—channelized translation activity toward literature wherever and in whatever Indian language it existed, thereby defying any logic of colonialist machinations. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and Khandekar became household names in places far removed from Bengal or Maharashtra, mainly because their novels kindled the fires of the freedom Movement.

  • 1 I am told that the translation was published in 1822 by Pratap Pustakalay, a publication unit run (...)
  • 2 All translations from Hindi and French are mine, except where otherwise indicated.

7But, looking beyond the colonizer’s language, Indian translators scanned other literary pastures—French and Spanish, for example—and sought inspiration from other freedom movements. Acase in point is Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi’s translation of Victor Hugo’s Quatre-vingt-treize [Ninety-three]. Vidyarthi (1890-1931), an outstanding journalist and author of editorials, essays and novels, was closely associated with the freedom movement in India and emphasized the need to give due importance to the role of tradition and culture in the struggle for independence. This was also the period when Eugène Pottier’s (1816-1887) well-known verse “Rise up, the curs’d of every nation in all your hunger-goals arise” was being sung in different vernaculars all over India. Vidyarthi considered the task of translating works by great writers and making them accessible to the general public a nobler task than that of writing one’s own work. He earnestly desired to convey the message of sacrifice contained in Hugo’s writings to his Hindi-speaking readers, hence his translation of Hugo’s Quatre-vingt-treize as Balidaan.1 Under the title, inscribed in bold in Hindi, can be read: “Resumé of the famous novel Quatre-vingt-treize by the influential French writer Victor Hugo.”2 This subtitle is already an indication of Vidyarthi’s approach to translation—a résumé of the original. Also, in the preface he gives a brief background history of the author and his work, and a lengthy note on the French Revolution, in simple terms so that readers might appreciate the translation in the context of the backdrop of the original. Then, in the introduction he explains the translation strategy adopted, and the reasons therefor. In Vidyarthi’s opinion, an original and its translation can never be the same; therefore, the reader should never expect to find in the translation the same information as contained in the original. His objective was to motivate readers to draw inspiration from the French case history. Thus he retained in his version only such aspects of the original which he believed his readers would benefit from knowing, and with which they are not already conversant. Vidyarthi even considered that many of the details he included in his translation could have been omitted without the work losing any of its charm; but he chose to retain them so as to provide readers with material that would widen their horizon of experience and emotions. Despite the omissions, Vidyarthi’s translation effectively instilled in his fellow countrymen a feeling of inner strength and natural pride (Salil 1991).

The Question of Fidelity

8Given the translator’s note and the effect of the translation on its readers, should this translation be considered an act of violence perpetrated on the source text, or a salutary transaction which addressed the specific urgencies of its time, fostering a nationalist sentiment and filling a void in a literary context weighted in favour of English classics? Present-day translators and bilingual critics who argue that a translation should be faithful to the original would no doubt assert that Vidyarthi’s translation of Hugo’s Quatre-vingt-treize is no translation at all, but an adaptation at its worst. I would remind them, however, that in nineteenth-century colonial India, fidelity was understood in a different way. Vidyarthi’s approach to translation might be considered akin to Alexander Pope’s translation of the Iliad (1720): Pope made his own decisions as to what would and would not interest the readers of the time, what to omit and what to retain in the translated version. His strategy is explained in the preface, and footnotes are used when he deemed it necessary to explain “infidelities” in his translation (Mohanty and Kuhiwczak 1997). Thus, instead of arguing in terms of a translation’s fidelity to the original, I would prefer to argue in favour of the “relevance” of a translation to its specific time and audience. If the relevance of a translated work consists in how it is received by and what it means to the target culture, we may conclude that Vidyarthi’s Hindi translation of Hugo’s French text was a relevant one.

  • 3 Though I am only citing French authors here, many works in other European languages were also tran (...)

9Another instance of personal choice which contributed to changing the terms of cultural transmission in India during the colonial period, toward the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century, is Premchand’s translation of Anatole France’s Thaïs. Premchand’s choice of a French writer was not language-related but rather ideological: he was fascinated with the novel and considered the French author superior to many English writers. He selected the particular work for what he considered its special affinity to Indian values, and one which would serve as an eye-opener to another world for Indian colonial readers, his fellow writers and translators, or rewriters. He therefore sought to adapt the novel to the Indian cultural context with a view to making it reader-friendly. Premchand’s strategy, however, might be considered less violent than Vidyarthi’s in that his translation is not scarred by major omissions. The translations by Premchand, Vidyarthi and other contemporary writers of the time would pave the way for many later translations of European works, such as those by Molière, Dumas, Maupassant and Rolland, among others.3 The choice of work to be translated was usually determined by the translator’s “existential hermeneutics,” by his environment and historical space.

10According to Trivedi, Premchand’s choice and translation of France’s Thaïs came at a crucial phase of India’s colonial history, and served to imbue it with “an extra-literary charge which turned it, among its other virtues, also into a small gesture towards the liberation of Hindi (and Indian) literature from the tutelage of the imperially-inducted master literature, English” (1997, 249). Trivedi’s remark can certainly be extended to all regional Indian literatures. In Southern India, for instance, in the 1930s, creative stalwarts vied with one another to introduce the best in foreign literature to Tamil readers through translation. The translation strategy invariably adopted by the translators was that of “adaptation.” In Trivedi’s opinion, the translations thus produced should not be viewed as acts of “subversion against English literature” (261), but as necessary and salutary supplements thereto.

11Premchand and Vidyarthi’s translations are prime examples of how translators, by respecting auchitya (propriety) in their selection of texts have, during the colonial and anticolonial period in India, contributed to changing the terms of cultural transmission in India, and to defining and delimiting the space occupied by English literature on the Indian translation scene. Propriety with regard to translation requires that the translator place the author’s views in proper perspective, especially if the source text deals with sensitive issues or if the target culture is at a critical phase in its history. As Avadhesh K. Singh remarks:

Auchitya in translation, without moving too far from its meaning in Indian poetics, should mean propriety in selection of a text for translation, of methodology and strategy used for translation, and of placing the translated text in proper perspective, so that the source writer’s/text’s intended, not merely articulated, meaning finds proper expression in the target translation. (1996, xi)

12Not to respect the principle of auchitya in one’s selection of a text to translate and choice of translation strategy would result in misrepresentation of the source culture. It is interesting to note that both Premchand and Vidyarthi, themselves eminent writers, opted for adaptation—resulting in appropriation—of the source text. Despite the modifications in the translated versions, the translators were able to create a wide readership for their translations, bring about a change in perception with regard to the donor potential of European languages other than English, as well as strike a balance on the contemporary translation scene in pre-independent India.

13The various versions of great epics and masterpieces were for the most part “recreations,” which could even be considered creations in their own right. These recreations often surpassed the original in creativity to become part and parcel of a regional literature. They were usually well received by the regional public of the time, and even present-day readers are grateful to the translators who made available the best literary works of the world to them. Though today these translations are often considered “appropriation through manipulation,” at the time neither the translators of these works nor their readers were concerned about the question of fidelity.

14Fidelity assumed importance with the beginning of Bible translations into Indian languages and has become a subject of serious debate in the postcolonial era. In the Indian context, opinions on what constitutes fidelity have varied from total liberty to transcreation to word-for-word translation. While literary translators in colonial India seemed more interested in the creative aspect of translation, modern-day Indian translators and bilingual readers seem, on the contrary, to be more concerned with the notion of fidelity, subscribing to the idea of a betrayal syndrome underlying all translation activity. Translations which the common reader finds interesting and enjoyable are often subjected to close scrutiny by bilingual academic readers seeking to establish the degree of, or to lament the lack of, fidelity to the original work. The rapid development of contrastive language study and an exaggerated belief in the notion of “equivalence,” whereby for every word or expression in one language there must be a corresponding word or expression in another, is largely responsible for the discussion of translation in terms of loss and gain, rather than in terms of the “integrity of the value of the people who produce the text” (Mohanty and Kuhiwczak 1997).

Independence and Translation

15The social responsibility of the translator and the functions of a translation have assumed great importance in independent India. Individual translators and translation sponsors now need to seriously evaluate their criteria for selecting texts to be translated, the translation strategy to adopt and the choice of target language. Satpal is a good example of an individual translator who was fully aware of his responsibility when he undertook to translate Sri Aurobindo’s seminal work Savitri into Urdu. An officer in the Armed Forces, working on an Artificial Intelligence project based on Aurobindo’s concept of the mind, Satpal explains why he chose to translate Savitri:

I am, therefore, quite convinced that all scriptures, irrespective of the religion, the race and the people they belong to, contain hints, which are either complete solutions in themselves or can lead us to the complete solution of some of the problems vexing the scientific community of today.

… I am of the firm view that the ability to appreciate a classic and/or a scripture like Savitri needs the same mental capability as is required to lead men in war or nations to prosperity or industrial houses to success. (1996, 67-68)

16As to the choice of Urdu as the target language, he added:

The choice of the target language was dictated by two fundamental urges: a) “The urge to be able to effectively participate—on the side of tolerance—in the Mandir-Masjid disputes of the late eighties”; and b) “to make Savitri accessible to a very large section of our society which understands Urdu, and is likely to, as a major social segment in India, be called upon to smoothen the sharp edges of Islam, when… its revival in its resplendent glory of the past emerges as the most important phenomenon of the twenty-first century.” (68)

17Since Savitri is a contemporary epic of timeless, universal dimension, the translator ruled out “transcreation,” the strategy normally used by Indian translators to translate poetry, as well as “adaptation,” the strategy usually preferred by translators of epics. Apprehensive of diluting what he called the occult truth contained in each verse by adopting a transcreational approach or by indulging in adaptation, Satpal chose to respect the principle of fidelity. By fidelity he did not mean word-for-word mechanical translation, like a body without a soul, but rather fidelity to Sri Aurobindo’s message, and fidelity to the nuances of the target language. He sought to respect the psyche of the target language, its genetic memory, its traditions with regard to idioms, adages and recitability, one of the most important criteria of Urdu verse (see 1996, 68).

18Another example of auchitya with regard to the selection of texts to translate in contemporary India is furnished by Suman Venkatesh, who has translated into English 2,009 French documents dating back to the period between 1781 and 1796, and relating to the history of Mysore. These documents constitute part of the correspondence between the then rulers of Mysore and Louis XVI, King of France, and part of the correspondence between French troops stationed in Mysore and their hierarchical superiors in France. The translator justifies her text selection as follows:

it became evident that these documents are especially valuable as they are not “deliberately designed for the historians” and so they can be treated as objective residues of the past. These translations are directed at reinterpreting history, at striking a balance between Eurocentric and lndocentric versions of the history of the period in question, between the observer and the observed. (1996)

19Again it seems that the translator’s choice depended primarily on the extent to which the translation addressed the urgencies of the time, and how it would influence and meet its readers’ experiences and expectations. On the other hand, a translation sponsor’s choice of text, translation strategy and target language often depends on the extent to which the translation project is considered representative of a region, since translation facilitates the discovery of cultural elements which contribute to the making of a language, a literature and a culture. In Anjana Desai’s words, a sponsored translation project which looks to cover only the classics of a certain region or language is merely a “surreptitious endorsement of the hegemonic establishmentarian process of centralising and marginalising cultural expression” (1996, 57).

What Is Translation?

20The diverse strategies adopted by Indian translators to translate great epics and masterpieces have given rise to a rich nomenclature. Terms such as “translation,” “transcreation,” “transference,” “tarzuman,” “anukaran,” “bhashantar,” “roopantar” “code-switching” or “recodification,” “reproduction” or “reconstruction,” “sweekaran” or “sahsrajan (co-creation),” “domestication of the ‘other’ or ‘foreign,’” “rewriting” and “recreation” have all been used to describe the process (Singh 1996, ix). In some cases, the term focusses on the external reality (bhashantar) or on the choice of form (roopantar); in other cases, on how the most complex feelings and sentiments are expressed (bhavanuvad) or on the creation of a new text (transcreation).

21Indeed, the history of translation and literature in India is replete with “adaptations.” Throughout the ages, Sanskrit epics and puranas have been told, retold, adapted, subverted, appropriated and translated without concern for fidelity to the source text (Paniker 1996,37). In fact, the numerous adaptations of Sanskrit texts in Indian languages have had a unifying influence on the Indian psyche. This trend has continued well into the twentieth century, as translations of the Saratchandra into Telugu, Tamil and other languages indicate: each translation is an adaptation of the original so as to better suit the mood of the time and region. For instance, in his translation of the Saratchandra, Velluri Swarna Sastri has substituted Telugu names and scenic descriptions of the Andhra countryside so that it could pass for a creation in its own right. Literal adherence was not insisted upon, and deviations were tolerated, even preferred, in the name of creative freedom. This practice contributed to establishing translation as “appropriation through linguistic manipulation” (Paniker 1996, 37), for the various adaptations in local or regional languages were welcomed by readers as contributions to the development of their own language and literature.

22During the colonial period, translations of plays, in particular, from European languages were usually labelled as “translations,” even though most of them were at best adaptations. However, it might be argued that in the colonial situation, Indian translators were faced with the question of loyalties—native or alien—especially as they worked under the supervision of the colonial master. Mahadev Shastri Kolhatkar’s Marathi version of Shakespeare’s Othello (Othello Natak, 1867), G.B. Deval’s adaptation of the same play as ZunZarrao (1890) and V.V. Shirwadkar’s (1965) translation of it demonstrate amply that perspectives and strategies depend largely on the cultural pressure faced by the translator at a given time. As Anand Patil (1993) observed, Shastri Kolhatkar’s Marathi version of Othello, an institutionalized translation carried out under colonial supervision, reveals the dilemma faced by the translator with regard to choice of strategy: to foreignize or to domesticate? to Anglicize or to Sanskritize? It might be worth noting that Shastri Kolhatkar belonged to the elite class at a time when colonial readership was limited to the higher classes or castes. As such, he was no doubt strongly influenced by the colonizer’s teachings and tastes, and the hegemonic power of “images” already propagated by translations of a particular kind. His translation of Othello bears the imprint of his own cultural values, on the one hand, and those of the colonizer, on the other. Playwright G.B. Deval’s ZunZarrao adaptation of Othello was largely successful and well received by its audience, and Shirwadkar’s translation was deemed a “return to Shakespeare’s poetry in the postcolonial-neocolonial era” (Patil 1993, 46).

23What needs to be pointed out here is that whereas it might have been easier for a Shastri to translate from Sanskrit into his own local or regional language under alien patronage, translating from English into a vernacular under the same patronage was quite a frustrating task, given the politics and the struggle between loyalties affecting the translator’s decisions. As regards translation of Indian texts into English, the question of fidelity took on larger proportions. Even A.K. Ramanujam’s translations of Sangam literature, which have made many ancient Tamil classics accessible to modem European and American readers, have not been spared criticism for misrepresenting the originals.

About Self-Translation

24The case against a writer’s translation of his own work is also often argued on the grounds of fidelity. Radindranath Tagore’s translations of his own Bengali poetry into English have been highly eulogized by some, and severely denounced by others. W.B. Yeats in his introduction to Tagore’s Gitanjali remarked:

these prose translations from Rabindranath Tagore have stirred my blood as nothing has for years… These lyrics display in their thought a World I have dreamed of all my life long… a work of supreme culture… (qtd. in Parameswari 1996, 91)

25Compared to the euphoria of Yeats—one of the early readers of Tagore’s translations—the modern Indian bilingual reader’s reaction is rather subdued. According to Avadhesh K. Singh:

Rabindranath Tagore… did great disservice to himself by translating his Geetanjali from Bengali to English, though he earned the Nobel Prize for literature for himself… The author-translator may not be so inspired (may be even more) as he was when he authored it. The new text will definitely depart from the original text but the bilingual human psyche will compare both the texts and search for, and lament, loss in translation. The author should better leave his work to find [a] translator for itself in different periods and ages and respond to its emotional and social needs. (1996, 14)

26Singh’s remark is in stark contrast to Sri Aurobindo’s remarks about the translation of poetry: “a translator is not necessarily bound to the original he chooses; he can make his own poem out of it, if he likes and that is what is generally done” (qtd. in Nandkumar 1981,65). Sri Aurobindo talks of two ways of translating poetry: “one [is] to keep it strictly to the manner and turn of the original, [and] the other is to take its spirit, sense, and imagery and produce them freely so as to suit the new language” (Pathak 1996,27). These remarks are pertinent not only for translators translating other people’s work, but for authors translating themselves. The main criticism levelled at Tagore, especially today, is that he took too many liberties in the translation of his verses into English and in so doing ended up denuding his poems of their original richness in order to make them acceptable to European tastes. In essence, the criticism is about his “rewriting” in English, rather than translating, his Bengali originals. Sujit Mukherjee (1994), for instance, suggests that Tagore wanted to stress the devotional aspects of his poetry in order to appeal to the English public; Mahasweta Sengupta (1996, 166) points out that this was because the devotional was perhaps “the domain that was familiar to the English as truly ‘Oriental’ or ‘Eastern’; poets from Asia were, to the English, more like prophets who dealt with transcendental rather than with material issues which were part of their everyday struggle in the colony.” Thus Tagore, by stressing devotion at the expense of other moods in his translation of Gitanjali and other anthologies, is considered a mystic in conformity with the image of the Oriental that is acceptable to the colonizer. Citing comments in Tagore’s correspondences, Sengupta (1996) provides insight into the translation strategies he adopted, the whys and wherefores of his choices, and shows that Tagore’s poetics were indeed “adjusted to the demands of the colonising power,” that he endeavoured to present in English the essential meaning of his poems. Tagore’s assessment of the target reader, the discursive limits of the target language, his own translative project, become evident through his remarks and comments. It seems necessary therefore to assess his translations against the temper of his times and his own translative project.

Criticism and Translation

27The widely differing reviews of subsequent translations of Tagore’s poems by Western critics on the one hand and by Indian critics on the other—for instance, Richard Casely’s review of William Radice’s translation of poems by Tagore, in contrast to Khushwant Singh’s review (in Das 1989, 37) of the same translation—show that an English translation of Hindi, Tamil or Bengali writing is likely to evoke a more critical response from an Indian reader unfamiliar with the original language, than from a Western reader unfamiliar with the cultural elements of the original or a Western reader who is familiar with the culture, but whose infatuation with the East, its mysticism and abstraction has cooled. It would not be wrong to presume therefore that readers’ tastes and literary sensibilities change over time. Indian bilingual translation critics might want to bear in mind that it is difficult to apply hard and fast rales to the translation of poetry. A translator of poetry usually achieves the best results by “transcreating,” that is, by preserving in translation the magical web of meaning and imagery of the original, yet at the same time respecting the dictates of the target language. Bilingual critics should also be aware that prose translation of popular literature is quite different from translating poetic texts such as Gitanjali or Bhagavad Gita.

28Translation criticism in India has existed in various forms since the nineteenth century, the most predominant method of evaluation being that of contrastive analysis. But trying to establish a formal correspondence between a source and a target text is too feeble a link to legitimize translation. As Antoine Berman suggests, for a translation to achieve its purpose, a more viable link should connect it to the original, similar to the link between a base and its derivative, a plant and its cutting (1995, 28).

29The questions which need to be addressed therefore are: 1) Is there an ethic for translation criticism? 2) What are the responsibilities of the translation critic? 3) Are critics sufficiently knowledgeable about the history and act of translation to fully comprehend the responsibilities borne by the translations they critique? Literary translators, as witnessed by Vidyarthi, Premchand, Satpal and Tagore, whose work I have referred to here, tend to explain and justify—in a preface or introduction or in correspondence—the strategies they chose to adopt for their translation. This indicates that they are aware of their responsibilities toward the original text and author, as well as toward their target audience, and that they have thought about their options before making a decision. I strongly feel that the translator’s right to creative freedom, to take certain liberties with regard to an original text, should be recognized, and that a translation should be critiqued and judged against the temper of its time.

30A more constructive approach to translation criticism is called for in India. Instead of concentrating solely on the linguistic aspects or the linguistic correspondences or the absence thereof, bilingual critics might want to look at other aspects of the translation: the effect of the translation on its readers; how it contributes to broadening its readers’ knowledge and experience of the world; whether it attains the objectives of the translative project; how it demonstrates the translator’s skill; how it enriches the literary culture of the target language; and, last but not least, does it contribute to promoting new expressive possibilities in the target language? Some of these concerns have already been voiced by scholars concerned with freeing translation from the grip of contrastive analysis and highlighting its real role and functions in a given society (see Simon and Viswanatha 1996).

31The increasing globalization of culture and the concomitant spurt in literary publications have helped many postcolonial writers—writing directly in English or translated into English—to be marketed successfully. However, not all translations done in India find their way to the erstwhile colonizer’s market. That the Empire translates back but there are not many takers for its translations must be viewed in terms of the evolving global context: some writers do not travel well, despite critical acclaim and impressive sales at home; what the Empire wants to give the Metropole is not what the Metropole wishes to receive from the Empire; there is already a crisis of excess on the British, American and European literary markets. I believe there is need for some introspection: by whom and, especially, for whom are translations done in India? The average monolingual reader? The academic bilingual reader? The colonial reader? The postcolonial reader? How does a translator create an audience?

32There are imbalances in cultural transmission in the Indian context which are characterized by a lack of adequate interaction between the regional languages despite their shared traditions. But these imbalances should be perceived not in terms of a conscious policy of discrimination favouring one language over another, but in terms of the non-availability of competent multilingual translators and the willingness of multilingual translators to translate certain types of texts, misguided criticism practices and above all the play of market forces. The English language is already saturated with translations of Indian works; Indian literature might find a more lucrative market in other European languages—German, French, Spanish, for example—or in other Indian languages, here on the subcontinent. We, in India, need to look to ourselves, our history and our traditions for inspiration and models to take us into the twenty-first century.


Works Cited

BERMAN, Antoine. 1995. Pour une critique des traductions: John Donne. Paris: Editions Gallimard.

DAS, S.K. 1989. “The Common Reader and Translation of Poetry,” International Journal of Translation 1, no. 1: 33-40.

DESAI, Anjana. 1996. “Translation Fitness.” In Translation, Its Theory and Practice, ed. Avadhesh K. Singh, 56-60. New Delhi: Creative Books.

MOHANTY, Satchidananda, and Piotr KUHIWCZAK. 1997. “A Good Translation Is a Good Literary Text.” The Hindu Literary Review (June 1).

MUKHERJEE, Sujit. 1994. “Translation as Perjury.” In Translation as Discovery and Other Essays on Indian Literature in English Translation.” 101-24. Hyderabad: Sangam Books Limited.

NANDKUMAR, Prema. 1981. “Translation: ACreative Process.” Cygnus 2, no. 2: 65.

PANIKER, K. Ayyappa. 1996. “The Anxiety of Authenticity: Reflections on Literary Translation.” In Translation, Its Theory and Practice, ed. Avadhesh K. Singh, 36-45. New Delhi: Creative Books.

PARAMESWARI, D. 1996. “The Technique of Translation and Transcreation from English to Tamil.” In Translation, Its Theory and Practice, ed. Avadhesh K. Singh, 89-103. New Delhi: Creative Books.

PATHAK, R.S. 1996. “Untranslatability: Myth or Reality?” In Translation, Its Theory and Practice, ed. Avadhesh K. Singh, 18-35. New Delhi: Creative Books.

PATIL, Anand. 1993. “An Author in Search of Translators/Translation: A Comparative Case Study.” International Journal of Translation 5, no. 1/2.36-62.

SALIL, Suresh. 1991. “Victor Hugo Aur Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi.” Anuvad 67 (Apr.-June): 11-16.

SATPAL. 1996. “The Joys of Translating Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri into Urdu.” Anuvad 89 (Oct.-Dec.): 67-80.

SENGUPTA, Mahasweta. 1996. “Translation as Manipulation: The Power of Images and Images of Power.” In Between Languages and Cultures: Translation and Cross Cultural Texts, ed. Anuradha Dingwaney and Carol Mair, 159-74. Madras: Oxford UP.

SIMON, Sherry, and Vanamala VISWANATHA. 1996. “A Relative of the Original.” The Hindu Literary Review (Aug. 18).

SINGH, Avadhesh K. 1996. “Translation: Its Nature and Strategies.” In Translation, Its Theory and Practice, ed. Avadhesh K. Singh, 1-17. New Delhi: Creative Books.

TRIVEDI, Harish. 1997. “India, England, France: A (Post-)Colonial Translational Triangle.” In Translation and Multi-Lingualism: Post-Colonial Contexts, ed. Shantha Ramakrishna, 248-62. New Delhi: Pencraft International.

VENKATESH, Suman. 1996. “History of Mysore and French Documents of the XVIII Century.” Paper presented at the Seminar on Translation and Multi-lingualism, Jawaharlal Nehru University, January 1996, New Delhi.


1 I am told that the translation was published in 1822 by Pratap Pustakalay, a publication unit run by Vidyarthi. However, according to Sharad Chandra, it is difficult to find even a single published copy of this translation in circulation today. The manuscript is in the preserve of the admirers of Vidyarthi.

2 All translations from Hindi and French are mine, except where otherwise indicated.

3 Though I am only citing French authors here, many works in other European languages were also translated into Indian languages during this period. Whereas these translations were done almost “naturally,” such is not the case today.


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