Between Artistry and Authenticity: Conundrums of Translating Vaddaradhane

Date: Monday, 21 August, 2023

Time: 04:00 P.M.

Venue: HSS Seminar Hall

YouTube livestream link: https://youtube.com/live/nLKEbVBcPTI?feature=share


This invited talk intends to delve into the intricate challenges faced while translating the ancient Kannada prose work, Vaddaradhane, arguably written between 600 CE and 940 CE. As the earliest extant Kannada prose, Vaddaradhane occupies a significant place in the literary history of premodern India, capturing the broad contours of its time and culture through captivating tales and experimental narrative structures. This talk passionately explores the delicate balance that translators must strike between attaining artistry in their translations into a new linguistic and cultural context while not compromising on the authenticity of the text’s ingenuity in its source language-culture. By closely examining the historical subtleties, linguistic nuances, and cultural intricacies embedded within Vaddaradhane, the talk touches upon the complex moral and ethical decisions translators must make in their effort to ensure the work's essence is retained in their translation. Addressing issues of wordplay, idiomatic expressions, linguistic agglutinations, intricate narrative and syntactical structures, the talk reveals the textual dialectics and the multifaceted layers of meaning that contribute to the text’s literary richness in Kannada literary tradition. Furthermore, it contemplates on the implications of these translation conundrums on the overall understanding and interpretation of Vaddaradhane, shedding light on how different approaches can lead to varying perceptions of the work's aesthetic and historical value. By exploring the interplay between artistic presentation and authentic representation, this interaction hopes to share some experiences and offer a couple of practical insights into the broader challenges of translating early literary works, contributing to the discourse on the intricate interconnections between language, culture, and literary legacy.


Bio note:

H S Komalesha is Professor of English in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. He is the author of Issues of Identity in Indian English Fiction published by Peter Lang, Oxford (2008). With a team of experts, he has published with Routledge (New York & London), Veneration to the Elders, the English translation of Vaddaradhane, the earliest extant Kannada prose believed to have been written between 600 CE and 940 CE. The central Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi has published three of his translated books: Adoration of the Ancients: Tales from Vaddaradhane (2022); Rashtrakavi Kuvempu (2014); and, Anupama Niranjana (2008). About fifty of his research articles and translations have appeared in journals of repute. He works in the penumbral spaces of poetry, gender, translation and culture.