Here’s a set of links to translation-related essays, interviews, podcasts, virtual events, submission calls, and more to start the working week. And a reading recommendation.
You may have noticed that there was no newsletter on October 10th or 14th. That’s because I needed to take a week’s break to deal with some other deadlines. Also, I needed to rethink this brief experiment of two newsletters per week. In September, I began separating the links roundup from the topical deep dives and sending them out on Mondays and Fridays, respectively. While it makes sense to keep these separate, it will be best to stay with one newsletter per week so that you get a chance to read, reflect, and respond as well. So I’ll be doing alternating weeks for the links roundup and the topical deep dives. I hope that will work for everyone. And we’ll close today’s links roundup with a reading recommendation and a quote. This week, we consider some fine words from the renowned and fiercely brilliant historian Romila Thapar. Please read on.
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[Note: This switch from one-a-week to two-a-week and then back to one-a-week has messed up my newsletter numbering just a bit. So we’re actually on #46 now though some of the links roundup newsletters had no numbers at all.]
READ: A New Translation Prize: The Armory Square Prize for South Asian Literature in Translation. Jury chair Jason Grunebaum and Armory Square partner and co-founder Pia Sawhney talk about the new Armory Square Prize for South Asian Literature in Translation. (Words Without Borders.)
READ: Inside the Process of Translating Korean Literature. Anton Hur, Sandy Joosun Lee, and Sung Ryu on their path as literary translators, creative process, and book recommendations. (Electric Literature.)
ATTEND: South Asian Literature and Art Festival 2022. October 28 to October 30, 2022. In-person. Saratoga, CA. (Art Forum SF.)
(I’m on a panel about translation and diaspora literature on the 30th. Come say hi.)
Looking for book recommendations? Check out my ongoing book lists.
This week’s quote is from an excellent book by the historian, Romila Thapar. In Śakuntalã: Texts, Readings, Histories, she examines a classical Indian text that has been adapted and translated many times into other Indian languages as well as several European ones. Carefully exploring and parsing these adaptations and translations into different languages and cultures at different moments in history, Thapar shows us how deeply social and political contexts shape how a text is translated, received, and canonized. She also reveals how the character of the eponymous Shakuntala was transformed through many retellings and what that tells us about how ideas of female identity evolved within South Asian culture (and the cultures that influenced South Asian literature through translations.) As she writes in her introduction, “In effect, therefore, tracing the history of this narrative itself becomes an even more complex interface between literature, history, gender, and culture. It is not my intention here to explore it in depth, rather to demonstrate that it is a viable activity which will direct us to many unexplored dimensions of both our past and our present.”
As translators, most of us know that context—in terms of cultural symbols, idioms, and icons—is multi-faceted and can significantly alter how we understand a text. This is why, as we’ve discussed before, translators’ notes and introductions matter greatly. We’ve also discussed how a translator can bring more context to their translation. Thapar’s book—where I’ve underlined multiple passages on almost every page—has given me new, more enlightened approaches to reading translations and approaching my own translations. If you do read it, I’d love to know your thoughts below.
Please feel free to share these links (I’d appreciate it if you could credit this newsletter as the source.) And if you’ve got an upcoming essay, interview, or event you’d like me to include, you can send it via my contact page. I’ll try to include as many as I can.