NOTE FROM THE VANGUARD
There’s an argument that the differences in approaches to translation in the West and the East initially stemmed from core theological schemas. The western theories on translation were heavily focused on equivalence, on finding the perfect lexical substitution, almost in the sense of “a paradise lost that must be regained”. The eastern traditions, however, until the pre-colonial times at least, were more focused on interpretations and encouraged the liberties taken by translators, resulting in many interpretations of the original texts. This is where the very distinct difference between ‘bhashantar’ and ‘anuvad’ comes in. In the present issue, we see translators from both the schools.
First off, we have a triad of Bhakti poets- Priya Sarukkai Chabria, Keki Daruwala (with Meena Desai), and Arundhati Subramaniam. In her translations of the 9th century Bhakti poet Manikkavacakar, Priya Sarukkai Chabria incorporates a very interesting play with form- almost like words slowly swirling around like perfumed smoke from an incense stick. She mentions in her note, “The mystics thought words evaporate before they reach Shiva”. Manikkavacakar sang at the Chidambaram temple, and she writes, “The Chidambaram rahasya is an empty cave-like room that the devotees peer into before viewing the idol in the main sanctum. Perhaps this accounts for the spaces between phrases in my translations and its floatingness, where each word is a spinning world, spinning in wonder, spinning into smoke”.
The themes of devotion and reverential love also hold strong in the translations of Narsinh Mehta, a fifteenth century vaishnava poet-saint (also an Adi kavi, or the first poet of Gujarati literature) by Keki Daruwala and Meena Desai, and the translations of the 18th-19th century poet and priest of the Thirukadaiyur temple, Abhirami Bhattar by Arundhati Subramaniam.
We have Akhil Katyal’s wonderful (and might I say, important) Hindi translations of Eduardo C. Corral, Anna Akhmatova, Elizabeth Bishop, Wislawa, Szymborska, Mary Oliver, and Joyce Carol Oates: an essential reminder of the importance of translation of western literature into non-English languages. Maithreyi Karnoor and Nabanita Sengupta share their personal journeys as translators, bringing to the fore very interesting insights that may enrich and educate fellow translators. Is every act an act of translation? Subhadeep Paul offers an interesting take on the idea.
In Hindi and Urdu literature, we have Somrita Urni Ganguly’s translation of Ramashankar Yadav Vidrohi, and Huzaifa Pandit’s translation of Mohsin Naqvi and Hamdam Kashmiri. The only posthumous translator in the issue is Jaikishan Das Sadani, who had translated the works of Mahakavi Kanhaiyalal Sethia – it was humbling to get the permission to publish this work. Among Bengali stalwarts, we have Amita Ray’s excerpts in translation from the works of Rabindranath Tagore, Saratchandra Chattopadhyay, Jibananda Das, and Bibhutibhusan Bandopadhyay. There is also quite an interesting mix of contemporary Bengali translation. We have a beautiful contrast of an underrepresented foreign language in mainstream world literature, Scots poems (and their translations) by Keeks MC, and a (debatable) dead language, Sanskrit, and its curious function as a target language in contemporary translation literature by Dr. Kaushik Acharya.
We have the essential representations of literatures from sections that need more focus: Jaydeep Sarangi’s translation of Shyamal Kumar Pramanik, Chandramohan S and his poems on translation, V. Ramaswamy’s translation of Ismail Darbesh, Jharna Sanyal’s translation of Ashapurna Devi, Kiriti Sengupta’s translation of Bitan Chakraborty’s important story on class and gender, and so on.
While it wasn’t possible to mention every individual contributor here, I thank everyone for trusting EKL Review with their work. The issue is richer, thanks to your contributions. Editing and curating this issue has been quite a learning curve for me. We really do hope you enjoy this issue.