At the digital launch of his translation of the Marathi classic ‘Ranaangan’ by Vishram Bedekar, Jerry Pinto made a case for translations, that’s going to resonate with anyone associated with translations.
‘Translation rewrites your world, it reintroduces you to your past, it shows you your city again, and it brings you to a place. You can revisit those places in a way that has been denied to you if you just stay with one language.’
Translations are now definitely in flavour. There is an increasing interest in Bhasha Literature in translation. Publishers are bringing out imprints for translations and the major book prizes and litfests honour translators working between Indian languages and English. And this change has come not too soon.
Other than the government-funded organisations which have been diligently promoting translations, there are now focused groups who understand the role and significance of translations between Indian languages. But there what is termed a ‘curious case of missing translations’ from among the Indian classics; the books that have not been translated or exist in an inaccurate or un-aesthetic translation. At a time when world classics are being re-translated for the understanding of a new or evolved generation, Indian literature certainly needs to keep pace.
The Indian Novel Collective is one such organisation on a mission to bridge the gap between the English Reader and the classics of Indian literature by making available quality translations and building reader communities that celebrate Indian storytelling. In their first project, they have identified 100 books across 14 Indian languages and taken on the task of delivering aesthetic translations of the books into English. The Usawa Literary Review has carried reviews of two of these translations from the Indian Novels Collective, in this issue.
Providing a context to each of those translations will take the reading of a translation to another level. A reader from another language and culture will definitely benefit from understanding why that book was written, and how, and when, and this specific book means to the reader in the source language. Before assimilating the essence of a translated book into my reading, I have always felt the need to eliminate the sense of the ‘other’. This, in relation to a book from a language I do not understand and a culture I am not familiar with. I hope we can see more of translated books with context notes for the curious reader.
May the joy of reading be with you, always!
Suneetha Balakrishnan, Editor, Translations