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India in Translation through Hindi Literature

A Plurality of Voices


Edited By Maya Burger and Nicola Pozza

What role have translations from Hindi literary works played in shaping and transforming our knowledge about India? In this book, renowned scholars, translators and Hindi writers from India, Europe, and the United States offer their approaches to this question. Their articles deal with the political, cultural, and linguistic criteria germane to the selection and translation of Hindi works, the nature of the enduring links between India and Europe, and the reception of translated texts, particularly through the perspective of book history. More personal essays, both on the writing process itself or on the practice of translation, complete the volume and highlight the plurality of voices that are inherent to any translation.
As the outcome of an international symposium held at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, in 2008, India in Translation through Hindi Literature engages in the building of critical histories of the encounter between India and the «West», the use and impact of translations in this context, and Hindi literature and culture in connection to English (post)colonial power, literature and culture.


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Part II: Reception and Book History


ULRIKE STARK Translation, Book History, and the Afterlife of a Text: Growse’s The Rámáyana of Tulsi Dás Focusing on the 19th century, this paper engages with translation and transmis- sion from a book historian’s perspective. It attempts to map the journeys of Hindi texts as they first travelled across physical, cultural, and discursive land- scapes to be received by Western audiences. As the Hindi book trade grew in size and importance, the selection of texts for translation and their circulation were subject to complex interactions between authors, Orientalists, colonial educators, and commercial publishers. While European Romanticism and Orientalism prompted a surge of interest in the Sanskrit textual tradition, nine- teenth-century Orientalists and colonial officials routinely dismissed Indian vernacular literature as “insignificant,” “unwholesome” and devoid of literary merit. Against this backdrop of European indifference towards Hindi literary culture, the paper traces a history of neglected texts and a selected text. The first part seeks to show how the negative perception of Hindi literature general- ly discouraged translation. The second part traces the genesis, publishing history, and reception of Frederic Growse’s English translation of the Rm- caritmnas by Tulsidas (1877–80), arguably the first translation of a Hindi work aimed at a general audience. Proposing a historicist and contextual approach, the paper argues that the study of modes of publication, channels of dissemina- tion, and sites of reception is vital to understanding the transmission process. Translation may not be the grandest of fields, but it is no faint praise...

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