The embrace of bhasha literature and translation
As this year’s International Booker Prize was announced and the applause erupted and the spotlight shone the Oscars on Geetanjali Shree and Daisy Rockwell, the Hindi author and English translator kissed for intense moments, then went on stage hand in hand. sand tomb became the first novel translated from Hindi to win the award. Indeed, it is a first for all bhasha literature, as scripture in Indian languages is peacefully called thanks to UR Ananthamurthy. This literature did not have its due because an eminent subsection of Indian writers wrote in English and that was enough. But not more.
After climbing the hill of English, a translated and famous book comes to the attention of other languages, from Spanish to Japanese, for further translation. In the country, English of course remains the most common target language and therefore the main bridge through our diverse linguistic landscape. As Rockwell and Shree said themselves YOUAlthough the readership of translations remains low compared to works originally written in English, each English publishing house now wishes to establish itself in other languages and literature festivals are vying for multilingualism.
In a widely shared sentiment, Wittgenstein once said, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” Translation consists in going beyond these limits. It is also the only way for the Indians to access the literary wealth born on their vast territory. And one day he might even “decolonize” the book shacks where you find a Dan Brown in more Indian languages than a Nirmal Verma. There is no untranslatability, only the lack of effort. To borrow from sand tomb, translating a book is “where two worlds meet. And kiss.
This article appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of the Times of India.
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