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How Does Shakespeare Become Sekh pir in Kannada - T.S.Satyanath
 
 
   Translation as DissemiNation: A Note from an Academic and Translator from Bengal - Swati Ganguly
 
 
   Vernacular Dressing and English Re-dressings: Translating Neel Darpan - Jharna Sanyal
 
 
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   Translation, Transmutation, Transformation: A Short Reflection on the Indian Kala Tradition - Priyadarshi Patnaik
 
 
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   Burning Ground: Singed Souls, a review of theEnglish translation Fire area of Ilyas Ahmed Gaddi’s Urdu novel Fire Area - A.G.Khan
 
 
   Translation: Where Angels Fear to Tread, review of Rashmi Govind’s English translation, titled The Story of the Loom, of Abdul Bismillah’s Hindi novel Jhini jhini Bini Chadariya - A.G.Khan
 
 
   Fall, Sudhakar Marathe’s English translation of the Marathi Novel Pachola - Madhavi Apte
 
 

        

         Abstract: The purpose of the paper is to identify and understand the cultural processes that went into the process of translating Shakespearian plays into Kannada during the Navodaya (renaissance) and Navya (modern) periods of modern Kannada literature. Translation has been viewed here more as a cultural process involving domination, assimilation, and contestation rather than as a literary act of bringing a text from one language into another. Translation as an act of transfer of knowledge, information and ideas from one language to another is a colonial enterprise and which implies certain relationships of power among the languages and cultures involved. Thus, in order to understand the postcolonial translations of a linguistically constructed region, we need to interrogate the colonial links, nature of interrelationship among languages involved in the contact and their linguistic history. Tracing the process of translating Shakespeare in a chronological order from the colonial to the postcolonial period, the paper points out that the selections and avoidance of texts for translation, the popularity of certain texts revealed by multiple translations of a text, transformations in the title of translations, deviations in translation etc. actually reveal the processes of constructing dominations and counter constructions. The paper also attempts to incorporate the role of the theatre both professional and amateur, and its audience in bringing about such changes and transformations.

          Some Kannada theatre critics have observed that during the early phase of Kannada theatre (1880-1920), Shakespeare was known popularly as Sekh Pir. Some have claimed that he was also popular by the name Sesappayyar (Sheshappa Iyer). Considering the fact that such instances have been noticed in the history of English theatre (Balurao 1966:viii), it is not surprising if such a speculation is actually true. Such tendencies clearly represent the complexity of cultural processes operating in the nativization of non-native entities and suggest the presence of ambivalences in a culture undergoing transformation. Students of modern Kannada literature are familiar with the term that was in use to address the white master, bil?i-dore, 'white king' akin to the term gauranga mahaprabhu in Hindi and other modern Indo-Aryan languages. Interestingly, the folk ballad of Sangolli Rayanna, collected during the later part of the nineteenth century and published with an English translation by Fleet (1885) in the Indian Antiquary, uses a derogatory term, kempu-mutiya-koti/manga, 'red-faced monkey' to refer to British soldiers. In this connection, it is interesting to note that the word in use to refer to the white-woman was dore-sani, 'king's courtesan' Considering the fact that feminine forms in designator words such as brahmana (brahmani), raja (rani) etc. usually translate as 'the housewife'; and 'the queen', the derivative component of sani to refer to the white woman is not only startling but also intriguing. If cultural constructions such as the 'manly Englishman and effeminate Indian', 'bi?li-dore' and “gauranga mahaprabhu” could become constructions with the purpose of dominating the others, then terms such as kempu-mutiya-koti/manga and dore-sani could as well be read as counter-constructions.2 In this sense, the inscribing and re-inscribing processes such as Shakespeare and Sekh Pir or Sesappayyar have an inherent potential to be read as constructions and counter-constructions.

           The terms that I have chosen in the title of the paper suggest certain inherent ideological positions. As a matter of fact, the names Shakespeare and Sekh Pir suggest colonial and colonized entities on the one hand and impact and reception on the other. Even a cursory survey of the writings on Shakespearian translations in Indian languages clearly demonstrates the existence of a power relationship of that sort. Kannada scholars have pointed out that a newly developing modern Kannada intellectual community accepted Shakespeare to such an extent that he was popularly referred to as Sekh Pir.3 Locating such a contact of literary and theatrical interaction within the context of colonial rule coupled with an influence theory centred approach for comparison has far reaching consequences not only in the positioning of Shakespeare but also in locating his Postcolonial position. Scholars argue that both literally and metaphorically colonial practices such as census, maps a nd surveys are practices of dominating the colony and its peoples (cf. Anderson 1983). The processes of 'discovering' the 'undiscovered' lands and peoples, through projects like voyages, enumeration, cartography and surveys, thereby textualizing and inscribing 'others' in terms of numerical and spatial imaging, have all been a part of the dominating process of colonization. All projects of translation, be it translating the Bible into a native language as part of the missionary activity, or compilation and codification of law texts like the nyayasastra, or defining linguistically ordered power relationships through terminological categorizations such as donor - recipient, original - translated etc., are activities in which the land, people and their representations were constructed through a process of inscribing, literally ‘writing over’, existing concepts, categories and terms, often existing in oral tradition, by the concepts, categories and terminologies of the colonizers. Even when such a systematic replacement is not possible through imperialistic domination, the mere corruption of the concepts, categories and terminologies of the colonized land and people could itself be seen as an inscribing process. (Re)naming or the process of identifying, when not done according to native conventions and practices, signifies domination and control, both in symbolic and literal terms. We need to notice here that in all cases of colonized lands, people and their representation, European explorers, enumerators, cartographers and ethnographers, and others were also translating either a region or a culture or a language, literally re-inscribing them, as the concepts, categories and terminologies of the people were either replaced by new ones, or were corrupted to suit Europeanized forms. The process of replacement also involved marginalization and denigration of native concepts, categories and terminologies, eventually relegation of the colonized people to the background, be it renaming, redefining or translating, anything to suit the conventions of their own, could become counter constructions.

          A noteworthy characteristic of theatre in Indian languages is the conspicuous absence of dramatic texts. Despite a long-standing Sanskrit theatre tradition, well attested through sastra texts, plays and performing traditions, such a claim cannot be made for modern Indian languages beyond 15-16th century A.D. The first Kannada play, Singararya's mitravimda govinda, written in 1860, is a rough translation of Sriharsa's Sanskrit play ratnavali. Although Yaksagana plays, the folk play from the coastal Karnataka region, have been well attested from palm leaf manuscripts right from 16th century A.D., it is the contact with the west and the English education system that gave a new direction to theatre and drama in Kannada. The first translation from Sankrit was of Kalidasa, sakuntala natakavu by Shesha Ramachandra Churamuri in 1870. Similarly, the first translation from English was that of Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors by Chennabasappa, which had the title nagadavarannu nagisuva nataka and was published in 1871.5

           Scholars of Kannada and Indian drama, from Murty Rao (1964, 1966) to Chaudhri (2002), have consistently felt that Kannada's response to Shakespeare represents two ambivalent and parallel streams of sensibilities, one corresponding to the literary tradition and the other to the stage tradition. However, it is worth noting that Murthy Rao actually notes that stage versions preceded literary versions.

          The earliest translations (they were really a cross between translation and adaptation) of Shakespeare came from theatre lovers rather than academic men. (Murthy Rao 1964:63)

          However, Chaudhri's (2002) generalization reduces the significance of the precedence of stage versions and brings the literary version in par with the stage ones.

          Renderings of Shakespeare in the south Indian language Kannada might be taken as an allegory of the reception of Shakespeare in India. They often run concurrently on two planes; one is a reader's translation following literary, largely Sanskritic norms of form and diction; the other, a racy stage version with sensational touches, colloquialisms and popular songs. Between them, these two tendencies epitomize much of what happens to Shakespeare in India.

          As one of the aims of the present paper is to demonstrate the significant role played by the sensibilities of theatre community as revealed in the stage versions of Shakespeare in Kannada, it is important for us to notice that views such as that of Chaudhri can systematically contribute and stabilize the attempts of constructing a literary taste-centred poetics rather than a stage centred one. In addition, such attempts might also result in homogenizing the vibrant and pluralistic literary and stage traditions existing side by side. A majority of Kannada scholars who have written about drama come from a literature background. I have pointed out elsewhere (Satyanath 2002) how a new sensibility for tragedy developed in Kannada literary context during the early part of the twentieth century and the controversies and debates that surrounded its emergence. Shamaraya (1962) observes that it was quite natural for Kannada playwrights to look for a great dramatist like Shakespeare from English just the way they looked towards Kalidasa in the case of Sanskrit. On the other hand, it was equally important to attempt to demonstrate the agenda of the Orientalist project of a harmonious Ancient East - Modern West encounter through translating the two great playwrights, Kalidasa from the East and Shakespeare from the West.

          A brief outline of the characteristic Shakespearian translation in Kannada has been attempted here. It would be out of place to attempt a systematic analysis of all his translations. A rough estimate of Shakespeare's translations in Kannada comes to about one hundred and eleven, spanning a period of 120 years (1871-1992). This includes free translations, adaptations and prose renderings. In all, only about twenty out of Shakespeare's thirty-six plays have been translated (55.5%). All the historical plays except for the first, second and third parts of King Henry the VI have remained un-translated. About twelve plays comprising both comedies and tragedies have been translated into Kannada. Appendix-I provides tabulated information of Shakespearian translations in Kannada and provides information about the translated title, year of translation, name of the translator, language on which the translation is based and certain interesting remarks. The frequency of translations of different plays is given in Table 1.


Original Title

No. Of Translations

Hamlet

18

The Merchant of Venice

10

Romeo and Juliet

10

Macbeth

10

Taming of the Shrew

8

Julies Caesar

8

Othello

8

The Tempest

8

As You Like It

5

King Lear

4

A Mid Summer Night's Dream

4

The Winter's Tale

4

The Comedy of Errors

3

Cymbeline

2

Twelfth Night

2

All's Well that Ends Well

1

Antony and Cleopatra

1

King Henry VI

1

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

1

Coriolanus

1

Pericles

1

Total

110

         Table 1: Table showing the frequency of Shakespearian Translations in Kannada

          In general, translations prior to 1920 could be called adaptations and that of the post-1920 period may be said to be literal translations suggesting their closeness to the originals. It should be noted that the pre-1920 period is the period of precursors for modern Kannada literature, whether the case is novel, drama or poetry. Modern literature in Kannada is conspicuously marked by events such as the establishment of the University of Mysore, the publication of the translations of English Romantic poems in Kannada inglis-gitegalu by B M Srikanthaiah (1921), the first social play to the hollow and the strong’ by T P Kailasam (1921) and the first novel madidunno-maharaya ‘eat what ever you have cooked’, a proverb with the meaning suffer for your deeds, by M S Puttanna (1916).

         Around the same time, Hattiyangadi Narayana Rao and his associates in the Bombay Karnataka region and Manjeshwara Govinda Pai and others in the coastal Karnataka region were engaged in similar activities. It should be noted that a majority of the translations for which the date of publication are not available in Appendix-I, happen to be translations from the pre-1920 period. A conspicuous aspect of these early translations are that the titles, names of the characters, locales, settings, sequences, and in certain cases the ending itself (tragedy to comedy) have undergone modifications. However, Deva (1993) observes that the earliest literal translation of Shakespeare is that of Macbeth by D V Gundappa (1936) and all translations prior to that can be considered as adaptations. If we accept this view, almost half of Shakespearean translations in Kannada must be categorized as adaptations. As this cut off point also marks the beginning of the decay of professional Kannada theatre, it also suggests a periodization divide between translations (adaptation) centred around professional theatre and texts centred literary translations.

         A curious aspect of some of the early translations is that the original English text has not been used for translation. Table 2 provides information about the translations that have been done not from English but based on the texts available in other Indian languages.

Original Title

Translated Title

Year

Translator

Language

All's Well that Ends Well

satim,ani-vijaya

1897

Somanathayya

Telugu

The Comedy of Errors

bhrantivilasa

1876

Venkatacharya

Bengali

The Taming of the Shrew

gayyaliyannu-  sadhumaduvike

1987

Somanathayya

Telugu

Othello

padmini

1911

Srikantha Shastry

Telugu

The Taming of the Shrew

tratikanataka

1920

Honnapuramath

Marathi

The Merchant of Venice

venïsu-nagarad,a-vartaka

1906

Venkatacharya

Bengali

The Winter's Tale

mam,juvani

1914

Srikanthashastry

Telugu6

          Table 2: Kannada translations of Shakespeare based on the texts available in other Indian languages.
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