Harish Trivedi: Translation

  • A Translation Roundtable: Premchand's Rangbhumi
  • Harish Trivedi, University of Delhi
  • April 29, 2011

As part of his visit to the Hindi Urdu Flagship in April 2011, eminent Hindi scholar Harish Trivedi conducted a roundtable discussion on issues of translation with members of the UT community (including a number of HUF students and faculty). The discussion focused on three texts:

  1. the opening two paragraphs of Premchand’s Rangbhumi, with two English translations (Christopher King and Madhu Jain).
  2. a stanza from Kavitavali of Tulsidas, with Raymond Allchin’s English translation.
  3. a mystery piece provided by Professor Trivedi.

All three are downloadable as a pdf compilation.

The first part of the discussion (above) focuses on the Rangbhumi passage. Viewers will benefit from having a print-out of the pdf compilation on hand. For those who want to read on, here is the first full chapter of Rangbhumi and the first chapter of the King translation.

The second half of the discussion, focused on Tulsidas and Trivedi’s mystery piece, is available here:

Trivedi is Professor of English at the University of Delhi. Here is how he describes his remarkable career:

“Glamoured by modernist British Literature while a student in a high-colonial university in a small town in north India in the innocent 1960s, I felt fortunate to get a scholarship to go to the UK and to write my doctoral thesis there on Virginia Woolf. But the experience cured me, and I returned to India with the belated epiphany that English literature was not, and never could be, my literature. This was some years before Said’s Orientalism, so the first door I knocked on was that of Comparative Literature — followed by Translation Studies, Postcolonial Studies and a critical reading of British Writing on India. When my turn came to serve as the Head of the Department of English at the University of Delhi (1997-2000), I made it my one-point agenda to catalyse a radical reform of the syllabus through which we chopped off much British dead wood in order to make room for (a) literature in English not only from the UK and the USA but from all around the globe, and (b) literature in English translation not only from Europe but also from other parts of the world, especially India. As a result, I can now spend a whole semester teaching a 1st century AD Sanskrit play, a 4th century Tamil epic, a Hindi poet from the 15th century and an Urdu poet from the 19th, not to mention a couple of trenchantly postcolonial Hindi novels. In alternating semesters I still teach Shakespeare, just to keep my hand in, while in an M. Phil. class in translation, my students and I actually soil our hands with several Indian languages as we work together on translating them into English. This is a bed of roses of liberated postcolonial pedagogy and research that I myself helped to make, and it is gratifying to lie in it.”