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« post on genetics and population height differences..(omar) | Main | A Failure of Justice (Cyrus) »

May 01, 2011


A most interesting interview, Ruchira. I'm particularly taken by Sukrita's comment
"Politics and media are bedfellows. In reality, culture is not subservient to –though it may eventually get affected by - politics but the messages sent to the public through media are to the contrary. That’s why, I believe, literature and not political journalese should be brought centre-stage … it is literature that presents cultural contexts, reaches out and shows connections, and through it, the differences get understood and ultimately respected, not resented…"
Very true about literature proving to be a true unifying force, especially when it is translated across a multitude of languages. Of course, politicians would only discourage this kind of thing, it is in their best interests to keep the vast majority as ignorant and narrow-minded as possible, to retain their hold on power.
On a slightly tangential note, this reminded me of a notable thing that struck me when I was digging into Gandhi's letters- the numerous occasions on which he was either talking of his own studies of Bengali, Tamil, etc., or exhorting his near and dear to engage more in their studies. In those days, there seems to have been a willingness to learn other languages that has perhaps waned as English has taken over as the lingua franca in the post-Independence years. It may in fact, be related to the waning 'collaboration' across languages in the Indian subcontinent in general, not just the Hindi/Urdu divide alone.

so interesting! i am reading and writing on my ipad, which feels like an airplane experience. but all impedipmenta fell away as i read. what an amazing family--you need to cooperate on an oral history project, all of you!

tim parks wrote recently -- lyrb? nyrb? -- about the difficulties of translating from euoropean languages with few speakers into those with more. he is a marvelous translator himself. i want to forward this link around, after my big computer comes back from the hospital....

My favorite line: Literature and poetry are not separate from, it's difficult to say what they have "meant" to me. Very astute, exactly right. Literature is a practical life experience, something one does, like taking out the trash.

Whenever I read of translation, I try to recall Walter Benjamin's cryptic remarks on the topic. I usually fail. Anyway, I've only read them in translation. But I don't know how to take Sukrita's assessment of originals and their translations. There is a "power" to an original work? We've seen that power "carried adequately" across translations into English from Latin American and Russian languages? We need to improve the way we transmit the power from Urdu and Hindi to English? I suspect there's more to it than a lapse in (per Sukrita) quality or (per Rao) quantity, although the factors are closely interconnected. Academic attention to the "original" literatures may be the impetus, or maybe first a translation from original novel, story, play, or poem, to film...and then to English novel, etc., will do the trick.

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