Transcreating a tamil novel Chayathirai: TRANSLATED AS THE COLOURED CURTAIN by P.Raja
Translation plays an important role in appreciating different modes of thought and different life styles while providing a fresh view of oneness, unity and commonality. Nanoam chomsky's remark that "Translation is like squaring a circle and circling a square" smacks of a bit jovality. But we are unable to take it with a grain of salt if we understand the statement in its proper perspective. there is no gainsaying the statament that translation has always been an adjunct of creating writing itself. Translation is a compromise, the effort to be literal and the effort to be idiomatic. what is generally understood as a translation involves the rendering of a Source Language Text(SL) into the Target Language Text (TL) so as to ensure that the surface meaning of the two will be approzimately similar and the structures will be seriously distorted. Translation measures the linguistic competence of the translator by means of the TL product.
The work under study The Coloured curtain renders itself as a touchstone to assess P.Raja as a translator. It was originally written in tamil by Subrabharathimanian under the title Chayathirai (published by B.Rr.. publishing corporation, Delhi and priced at Rs.200). The novelist has published 200 short stories, fifiteen short story collections and one travelogue. His stories have been translated into Indian regional languages and into the European languages like English and Hungarian. He has been the editor of the Tamil quaterly, Kanavu, since 1987. The translator is a freelancer, well-anthologised poet, novelist, shortstory writer and the critic. He has already translated several books from Tamil into English and proved himself component enough in the art of translation.
The main idea of translating a work from Tamil into English is reaching out to the global audience. We know that translation is neither a creative art nor an imitative art but stands somewhere between the two. From all our considerations of this art, the fact emerges that the individual translator can translate one work only in one way, and that his best way is always a tension between the original and the new idiom of the translator. P.Raja appears to have experienced, nor can never be eliminated, nor can the tension between closeness and naturalness, between form and meaning, between poetry and prose. These things represent divergent ideals, but in translation they have to bo reconciled for translation is a matter of compromise. The translator has to be faithful to the original in rendering its intensity, poignancy and imagery, usually circumscribed by a certain cultural ethos. It is maintained that faithfulness should be adhered to in the process of transtlating, but " faithfulness" in the field of translation does not always mean "the same thing" .of the qualities needed by a translator many authorities feel that a translator must be a master of two languages. The knowledge of the foreign language must be critical and of his own must be practical. The translator like the critic and scholar must be a reader. The ideal transtor must be the ideal reader, a rare breed, P.Raja can claim to belong to this rare breed. The fact that he has already made a mark in Tamil creative writing proves that he is at home with both the languages, Tamil and English. This bilingual proficiency has sharpened his technical skills, of course. governed by his fertile imagination. He could with ease grasp the adroitness of comparative arrangement of linguistic elements between the SL and the TL text with regard to phenemic, morphemic, lexical, syntactic, semantic and discourse levels. Since he himself shares tha cultural ethos depicted in the original by being a Tamilian, he handles the idiomatic problems without distorting the spirit of Tamil idioms and usages.
Coming to the context of the Tamil novel Chayathirai , one can confidently say that it is one of the significent novels in Tirupur pleasently covered with a coloured curtain. The novel is a curtain raiser on the plight of the suffering dyeing community attached to the textile industry in Tirupur. it presents a series of contrasts between illusion and reality, life and death, the beautiful and the external internal and so on. The novelist successfully brings the various human attributes under close scrutiny and the narration is realistic and poignant. The charaters are not larger than life. They share the virtues and the vices that a commoner normally undergoes. in addition, the novel broadens its scope to study the socio-economic travais of the weavers who are torn between life and death. in fact, the socio-economic dimension appears to be more significant than the moralistic outlook. One can't help think of the existentialist philosophy while digesting the narrative technique employed by the novelist from the beginning to end.Faithfulness should be the basic principle for a translator. P.Raja has tried to do justice to the task in hand and his sucess lies in his reasonable adherence to the fidelity of the original. Translation of the same book by different translators is bound to face a few variations as is seen in the cse of translations of great works. What strikes the reader in the case of translations of great works. What strikes the reader in P.Raja's translation is his utmost sicerity and felicity of expression.
As Prema Nandakumar aptly puts iin her review in the INDIA TODAY , the novel "is quite a significent novel in Modern Tamil literature on the grounds that it is told artistically and that the treatment of its subject matter is quite new." The novel can be classified under the post-modernist fiction. Anecdotal in nature, the events don't appear to be interrelated. But "as the curves and the lines join together to make a picture, the expriences of several characters put together make the reader read the mind of the writer. Since Subrabharathimanian has deftly handled such a technique, the novel touches us personally too and awakens our responsibilities" (quoted from the review included in the translation). Such a technique throws a challenge to the translator who has to be extra-careful not to disrupt the flow of narration and thereby distort the spirit and meaning of the novel. It is likened to right-rope walking and P.Raja, having accepted the challenge, comes to terms with his job not only in ensuring the beauty and the intensity of the original narration but also in enhancing tha readablilty of tha translation. His job is commendable and it is possible only for a translator who gained a reasonable mastery over both the languages, Tamil and English.
Tirupur brings to our minds a land of the river Noeyal and greens and vegetables grown on its banks. In addition, the variety of woven fabrics that lure people and the newly sprung multi-coloured constructions too come to mind. All these adorn the external Brushing aside attractive curtains, we are shocked to see an altogether different world behind the farcade. The Noeyal is reduced to a gorgeously coloured gutter. The streets are polluted with the waste effluents from the dye industries.
Ponneelan, Sahitya Akademi winnwe, in his foreword to the translation say that this novel can't oast of any story. There is not even a basic thread running through the novel. Nor does it show its characters in different moods. And all that one can see is the dead leaves dancing on this waste-land, dancing to the tunes of the winds. Bhaktavatchalam is the lead character who threads through the entire action. He lives with Jothimani clandestinely without the matrimonial tie-up. Characters like Nagan, Sundari, Veluchami and Kumar bear the brunt of the chemical pollution and live mechanically throwing their hands up in despair. in short, the novel is a splendid polemic against our greed for wealth by polluting our natural resources and environment. It talks about marginal men. This novel has no plot, story or even hero in the traditional sense. What stands out is the novelist's way of narration. He makes the reader feel with all his senses and this technique of clarity is laudable. the same clarity shines through Raja's translation too. The narrative tempo has been maintained throughout and P.Raja has done his best to bring the same pervading gloom and despair into the translation and we sigh heavily as the novelist himself does when he describes the plight of the poor Tirupur children working in dye industries.
The translator has already used Tamil words in transliteration like kumkum, grahapravesam, poojari, ragi, kali, munud, nalangu,thali, sombu, therukutthu, sticker pottu,aadi month, erukkam leaves, alagu, appa, and hybrids like kolams. They add a native colour to the narratio,n. they are distinguished by italicising them. His felicity of expression is evident from the phrases like "the noisy street budded into view", "That made many women shoulder their way towards it" (p.8), "He thought of those halycon days..." (p.162), "The ashoka tree at the portico continued to disown its brown leaves" (p.163), and "There was a million crowd of pilgrims" (p.146). There are some typographical errors like "those mixture of colours" (p.83,1.2), "... it was the man from Mysore who forced him sit in the loom pit(p.65). it would be helpful if the tamil words in transliteration were glossed at the end of the book. This lapse might hamper a European reader who does not know Tamil.Sentences like the following could have been translated still more idiomatically : " The fritted and broken wires of Nagan's chair that sat at tha gate come to this view"(p.14), "he could see his footwear covered with street dust and progressed further to reach the edge of his pants"(p.10), "...the passangers as if disturbed by that sound vied with each other to elbow their way out"(p.11), " he moved to the street corner only to find that a lorry was parked obstructing the company's building from the view"(p.13). Of course, any translator, for that matter, has an inherent scope for further refinement. As Otto Jesperson has nively put it, "Translation is transferring a person from one cosmos to another". The translator has not only to translate a work of art but to transliterate and transcreate it if warranted to make the translation readable. P.Raja has employed all these tools polished over the years and kept ready in his arsenal to make the translation as readable and absorbing as the original.
Dr.D.Gnanasekaran, Reader in English, K.M.Centre for P.G. Studies, pondicherry. Add:29, Main Avenue, West Brindawan, pondicherry-605013, (India).
Delhi: B.R.PUBLISHING CORPORATIONS: Rs 200
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சுப்ரபாரதிமணியன் திருப்பூரை சேர்ந்தவர். சிறுகதை , நாவல், கட்டுரைகள் , கவிதைகள் என தமிழிலக்கியத்தின் பலதளங்களில் கடந்த முப்பது வருடங்களாகத் தீவிரமாக இயங்கி , அனைவராலும் அறியப்பட்ட ஒரு படைப்பாளி்,இந்திய முன்னாள் குடியரசு தலைவர் வழங்கிய கதாவிருது தமிழக அரசின் சிறந்த நாவல் ஆசிரியர் விருது உட்பட பல்வேறு விருதுகளையும் பரிசுகளையும் பெற்றுள்ளார். திருப்பூர் பகுதியில் குழந்தை தொழிலாளர் ஒழிப்பு, பெண்களை சுரண்டும் சுமங்கலி திட்டத்தை ஒழிப்பது ,நொய்யலை பாதுகாப்பது போன்ற பல்வேறு சமூக பிரச்சினையிலும் அக்கறை கொண்டவர் ,15 நாவல்கள் 15 சிறுகதை தொகுப்புகள் ,கட்டுரைத் தொகுப்புகள் உட்பட 50 நுல்கள் வெளியிட்டுள்ளார் கனவு என்ற இலக்கிய இதழை 30 ஆண்டுகளாக நடததுகிறார் திருப்பூர் தாய்தமிழ் பள்ளியோடு இணைந்து பணியாற்றுகிறார். தொலை பேசித்துறையில் உதவி கோட்ட பொறியாளராய் பணியாற்றியவர். வலைப்பதிவாக்கம் சுந்தரக்கண்ணன்
கதா பரிசு "92"- இந்தியாவின் பல்வேறு மொழியின் சிறந்த சிறுகதை எழுத்தாளர்களுக்கான "கதா-92" பரிசை தமிழ் எழுத்தாளர்கள் சுப்ரபாரதிமணியன், ஜெயமோகன் பெற்றிருக்கிறார்கள். டெல்லி ராஷ்டிரபதி பவனில் நடைபெற்ற பரிசளிப்பு விழாவில் ஜனாதிபதி சங்கர் தயாள் சர்மா இந்திய மொழிகளின் பல்வேறு எழுத்தாளர்களுக்கு பரிசு வழங்கினார். அவ்விழாவில் எம்.டி. வாசுதேவன் நாயர், என்.எஸ். மாதவன் (மலையாளம்), வைதேகி, விவேக் ஷான்பாக் (கன்னடம்), ரெண்டல நாகேஸ்வரராவ் (தெலுங்கு) மற்றும் 12 மொழிகளின் எழுத்தாளர்களுக்கும் இப்பரிசு வழங்கப்பட்டது. "கதா பரிசுக் கதைகள்" என்ற ஆங்கில நூலை மத்தியச் சுற்றுலாத் துறை அமைச்சர் பரூக் மரக்காயர் வெளியிட்டார். அந்த ஆங்கிலத் தொகுப்பில் பரிசு பெற்றப் படைப்பாளிகளின் சிறுகதைகள் இடம் பெற்றிருக்கின்றன. சுப்ரபாரதிமணியனின் "இடம்", ஜெயமோகனின் "ஜகன் மித்யை" கதைகளின் ஆங்கில மொழிபெயர்ப்புகளும் இடம் பெற்றுள்ளன. அப்படியே எழுத்தில் கொண்டு வந்து விட முடியாது. அதற்கென்று ஒரு ஒழுங்கமைவு தேவைப்படுகிறது. இந்த ஒழுங்கமைவிற்கு தயார்படுத்திக் கொள்வது அவசியமாகிறது. அதுவும் எழுதத் தொடங்குவதற்கான ஒழுங்கமைவில் இந்த முயற்சி முக்கியப் பங்காகி விடுகிறது. வார்த்தைகளின் ஒழுங்கமைவும், மொழியின் இயல்பும் பொருந்தி வருகிற போதே ஒருவன் எழுத ஆயத்தம் செய்து கொள்ளலாம். அதற்காகக் காத்திருக்கிற 'தவம்' அர்த்தமற்றதாகக் கூட அமைந்து விடுகிறது.தில்லி தமிழ்ச்சங்கம் ஒரு பாராடு விழாவை நட்த்தியது. அதில் நானும் உரையாற்றினேன்.---------------- சுப்ரபாரதிமணியன் -