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Table of contents :
Table of Contents
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
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Bakhtin and Translation Studies

Bakhtin and Translation Studies: Theoretical Extensions and Connotations


Amith Kumar P.V.

Bakhtin and Translation Studies: Theoretical Extensions and Connotations By Amith Kumar P.V. This book first published 2015 Cambridge Scholars Publishing Lady Stephenson Library, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 2PA, UK British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Copyright © 2015 by Amith Kumar P.V. All rights for this book reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. ISBN (10): 1-4438-7188-5 ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-7188-4

Dedicated to

Amma & Papa


Acknowledgements .................................................................................... ix Chapter One ................................................................................................. 1 Introduction: Why Bakhtin? A Critical Survey of the Major Theoretical Currents in the Field of Translation and Cultural Studies An Overview of the Major Principles of Dialogism The Necessity of Utilizing Bakhtin’s Principles Chapter Two .............................................................................................. 24 Translation and Dialogism The “Dialogicity” of Translation “Active Understanding,” “Outsideness,” and Translation Bakhtin’s “Metalinguistics” and Translation “Inner-dialogism,” “Double-voicedness,” and Translation Chapter Three ............................................................................................ 40 “Indirect Discourse” of Voloshinov and Translatability Voloshinov and “the Bakhtin Circle” A Theoretical Survey of Voloshinov’s “Indirect Discourse” Translation and Indirectedness Indirectedness at Work in Marathi Poetry and Hindi Prose Chapter Four .............................................................................................. 56 Translating Polyphonies of Lyric Poetry What is a Polyphonic Text? The Bakhtinian Ambivalence Differing Polyphonies in Multiple Translations: An Analysis of Multiple Translations of Three Lyrical Texts The Kannada poem “Bhoota” by Gopal Krishna Adiga The Marathi poem “Daata Paasun Daata Kade” by G. V. Karandikar The Hindi poem “Shoonya” by Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh The Rationale for Polyphonic Variations


Table of Contents

Chapter Five .............................................................................................. 81 Translating a Polyphonic Novel The Concept of the “Polyphonic Novel” and U. R. Anantha Murthy’s Kannada novel Samskara Samskara in the English Translation Elaborated Textuality: Translation as Explanation Samskara in the Hindi Translation Curtailed Textuality: Minimised Elaborations Samskara in the Marathi translation Intensified textuality: Filtered Descriptions Chapter Six .............................................................................................. 115 Cultural Encounters and Dialogism The “Inner Dialogism” of the Tradition(s) of India Western Modernity and the “Surplus of Seeing” The Dialogic Encounter between Tradition(s) and Modernity in the Indian Situation “Indian English” as the Site of a Cultural Encounter A Critique of the Theories of “Indian English” Dialogization in Indian Writing in English Chapter Seven.......................................................................................... 142 Conclusion or Anti-Closure: Towards an “Architectonics” for Translation and Cultural Encounters Select Bibliography ................................................................................. 154


I am grateful to my father for helping me in every possible way, for his astounding support and stamina, and my mother who stood by me always as the epitome of patience and perseverance. Their love, affection, and care have made this book a reality. My PhD supervisor Prof. Milind Malshe needs a special mention for his scholarly advice and expert instructions. His erudite personality has moulded my thinking and shaped my research acumen. Prof. Sudha Shastri, my co-supervisor, has been an immense source of inspiration and also a very meticulous critic of my work. I am thankful to her too. I wish to mention the names of Appi, Rekha, Avani, Neha, Honey, Uncle, and Mommy, who have always been very helpful and caring in my academic and personal endeavours. Lastly, I am thankful to my wife Monali for her unconditional and impeccable love.


Translation and cultural theorists have been restlessly active in theorising the subtleties that translators and cultural analysts encounter in their escapades. The upsurge in the theories on translation and culture is partly due to the “cultural turn” that took place in literary theories in the 1980s and 90s, and partly due to the challenge and promise these disciplines offer. Every culture is unique in its own right, and the complications and dilemmas a particular culture encounters radically differ from those of another. As translation is an inter-cultural phenomenon, and cultural encounter a cross-cultural concern, the internal and external subtleties during such interactions are more complicated than one can possibly imagine. They are operations associated with the process of “cultural transmission” (Eagleton 2000, 113), hence, they require conceptual frameworks that impart divergent perspectives for an understanding and interpretation of such disseminations. But why should we have a Bakhtinian approach to these cultural operations? What significance will such a proposition have? Under the guise of “divergent perspectives,” for an understanding of the nuances involved in the cultural processes, are we not proceeding towards an anarchic situation, where every point of view acquires validity as just one more way of approaching cultural conditions? An answer to these questions demands a critical overview of translation theories.

A Critical Survey of the Major Theoretical Currents in the Field of Translation and Cultural Studies The discipline of translation studies has shown a greater degree of vulnerability to the transformations that have been taking place in the field of literary theories in the twentieth century. Prior to the influence of


Chapter One

structuralism, translation studies lacked a theoretical outlook, and was accorded with a secondary status. For the scholars of the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries, translation was just an act of mirroring that lacked creative potential, and therefore was a subsidiary and derivative practice.1 It was also a mechanical process associated with notions like “imitation” and “mimicking.” In Hilaire Belloc’s words: This natural underestimation of its values has had the bad practical effect of lowering the standard demanded and in some periods has almost destroyed the art altogether. The corresponding misunderstanding of its character has added to its degradation; neither its importance nor its difficulty has been grasped. (in Bassnett 1980, 2)

This underestimation was due to an overemphasis on the finished translated work, rather than the process of translation. An examination of the translated work would inevitably mean a comparison with the “original” work, giving rise to value-judgements like gain or loss after translation. Such an analysis led to a hierarchical relationship of master/servant between the author of the “original” work and her/his translator. As Susan Bassnett (1980, 3) comments: The powerful Anglo-Saxon anti-theoretical tradition has proved especially unfortunate with regard to Translation studies, for it has managed so aptly with the legacy of the “servant-translator” that arose in the Englishspeaking world in the nineteenth century.

In the twentieth century, the “servant translator” rose to challenge the inferior position s/he was granted, as the focus was now shifted from the finished translated work to the activity of translation. Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Task of the Translator” (1923) examines how the “after-life” of a text and “the survival of language” are determined by translation.2 In Benjamin’s view, while all languages are different they mutually supplement each other in the conveyance of intentions. As he writes, “Translation … of all literary forms … is the one charged with the special mission of watching over the maturing process of the original language and the birth pangs of its own” (2000, 18). For Benjamin, a translator acquires a significant position as her/his task involves contributing to the, “eternal life of works and the perpetual renewal of language” (Ibid.). While Walter Benjamin’s essay was a milestone in the growth of a theory of translation, the second major development was Ferdinand de Saussure’s revolutionary work Course in General Linguistics (1916). In the 1950s and 60s, Saussure’s work wielded a profound impact on disciplines like

Introduction: Why Bakhtin?


anthropology, Marxist criticism, psychoanalysis, and cultural analysis. The reverberations of Saussurean influence were also felt on translation studies as new approaches like formalist and structuralist perspectives started emerging. Saussure was concerned with an objective approach to studying the linguistic units of every language that make human communication possible. For Saussure, a study of language meant a study of the system of signs and not the individual speech units. As a translator is concerned with two language systems, it was felt that a study of the objective linguistic features of both the languages would help in striking a linguistic balance in translation. Russian formalism, which was influenced by Saussurean linguistics, provided a new theoretical perspective to analyse the system of signs in a text by emphasising their individual and independent statuses. Roman Jakobson, in his essay “On Linguistic Aspects of Translation,” develops a formalist approach to the process of translation. Jakobson identifies three kinds of translations: intralingual, that is, translation within the same language; interlingual or translation proper, that is, translation between two languages; and intersemiotic or transmutation, that is translation between different semiotic systems (1959, 233). Jakobson’s classification is a landmark in translation theories as it provides a theoretical framework for an understanding of its problematics on different planes. As he points out, languages differ not merely because they are two different semiotic systems, but because they convey different messages. The task of the translator is to find an “equivalence in difference,” which would lead them to, “an examination of their mutual translatability” (1959, 234). However, Jakobson’s approach suffers from certain shortcomings. His overemphasis on the notion of “code” and his move to identify a translator with a decoder and recoder of a message are reductionist and minimalist enterprises. Codification denies the recognition of the vital dynamics that constantly operate in a language. A code is a closed system that ignores the vibrations that are active in a word/message. As Bakhtin writes: “A code is only a technical means of transmitting information: it does not have cognitive, creative significance. A code is a deliberately established, killed context” (1994, 147). Structuralism also played an important role in affecting translation studies. Saussurean emphasis on a study of objective linguistic structures influenced translation theorists who now started searching for the underlying structures of the source language and the target language. Eugene A. Nida, for example, developed an approach that would be a


Chapter One

“science” of translation, studying objective features common in a language, and validating and transforming them in a different language. In his essay “Principles of Translation as Exemplified by Bible Translating,” Nida writes: it is essential that we point out that in Bible translating, as in almost all fields of translating, the most frequent mistakes result from a failure to make adequate syntactic adjustments in the transference of a message from one language to another. Quite satisfactory equivalents for all works and even the idioms may have been found, but a person’s oversight or inability to rearrange the semantic units in accordance with the different syntactic instruction as being “foreign” and unnatural. (1959, 31)

Drawing from his experience of translating the Bible, Nida argues that a perfect communication is not possible during translation. Nevertheless, a closer approximation can be obtained if the translator is sensitive to the latent structures of the languages. In his book Toward a Science of Translating (1964), Nida advocates the necessity of a theoretical approach to studying the fundamental structures of different languages. The notion of “underlying structure” has Chomskian overtones, implying a deep structure/surface structure conceptualisation of language. Noam Chomsky, in his Syntactic Structures (1957) and later books, studied “phrase structure rules,” comprising a deep structure and a surface structure that operate at different levels in a language, ranging from the unconscious working of the human mind to their surface expression. Nida appropriates and adopts Chomsky’s theories to provide a “scientific approach” to the theory and practice of translation (Gentzler 1993, 46). However, Nida’s approach suffers from certain fundamental limitations. In his attempt to develop a “science” of translation, Nida underestimates the role of interpretation. A text is neither a closed entity nor a systemic totality. The message of the text is never intact, and it will not be possible to grasp its pulsation through a search for a hidden, deep structure. A text is the result of a dialogue with the culture from which it emerges. Further, Nida does not recognise the significance of context in the emergence of a text. Nida’s attempt to find a “science” freezes the entire social aspect of a text and its translation. As Bakhtin writes: When one analyzes an individual sentence apart from its context, the traces of addressivity and the influence of the anticipated response, dialogical echoes from others’ preceding utterances, faint traces of

Introduction: Why Bakhtin?


changes of speech subjects that have furrowed the utterance from within— all these are lost, erased, because they are all foreign to the sentence as a unit of language. (1994, 99)

As Nida’s theory emerges from his practical experiences of translating the Bible, there is a peculiar sacredness attached to the “original” work. Nida’s “science” acquires a prescriptive dimension, which attempts to safeguard the intentions of the “original.” The next major development towards a new theoretical approach to translation is the target-oriented approach of Gideon Toury. His theory of translation is based on a field study he undertook over a period of fifteen years to determine the aims of the translation of texts from English, Russian, German, French, and Yiddish into Hebrew, along with the decisions made by the translators, the publishers’ preferences, and the selection of the texts. In his essay “The Nature and Role of Norms in Translations” (1978), Toury examines the pivotal role played by social and cultural norms, and concludes that translation is certainly a “normgoverned activity” (2000, 200). In Toury’s opinion, a translator has to execute the task allotted to them by a community, which demands they “play a social role.” In his words: “The acquisition of a set of norms for determining the suitability of that kind of behavior, and for manoeuvring between all the factors which may constitute it, is therefore a prerequisite for becoming a translator” (2000, 198). Toury then proceeds to classify these norms into two larger groups: the preliminary norms related to the actual nature of translation, the text selected, its reception, and appeal in the target culture; and the operational norms concerned with the decisions during translation. For Toury, such a set of norms will help a translator to implement their “translation policy” (2000, 200). In In Search of a Theory of Translation (1980), Toury observes that linguistic and aesthetic components, which were hitherto given utmost importance, were not the major concerns of the translator. Texts are selected more for their ideological content than for their literary or aesthetic significance. Translations break the rules of conformity and faithfulness to the original to cater to the demands of the target audience. Though there are some exceptions, they are merely “accidental.” The general picture that emerges for Toury is that translation is a targetoriented activity where the aims to be achieved are decided and dictated by the target community.


Chapter One

Toury’s approach is significant for the shift in focus from the sourceculture to the target-culture it brought about. The emphasis on linguistic features is now replaced by an emphasis on socio-cultural norms. However, Toury’s conceptualisation suffers from certain drawbacks. While it is acceptable that a translator should have a clear comprehension of the norms that prevail in the target community, the question that arises concerns the nature of such norms. Is it possible to determine a set of norms as representing a particular community? Norms are never static— when this is the case, how does translation take place across different historical periods? Can we have a “translation policy,” as Toury assumes? Further, Toury considers translated texts as facts on which he builds his theory. The existence of such a fact is highly questionable, as facts are the subject matter of interpretations. Toury’s theory has attempted to universalise certain observations he made in his field of study. Finally, Toury undermines the relation between language and culture. Words carry with them various cultural traces. As time moves from the past to the present, and as translations are carried out across temporal and spatial categories, words acquire and realise their potential, their “chain of meanings.” To recall George Steiner’s words: No raw data from the past have absolute intrinsic authority. Their meaning is relational to the present and that relation is realized linguistically. Memory is articulated as a function of the past tense of the verb (1975, 132).

The entire problematic of translation underwent a drastic change with Jacques Derrida’s deconstruction that held sway in the 1980s and 90s. Derrida questions the “presence” of a defined and definite meaning in a text by highlighting the constant alterity and difference between the signifier and the signified. According to Derrida, the history of Western metaphysics is one of setting boundaries that limit language, writing, and reading to certain specific categorisations. Deconstruction attempts to show that language is always in the state of “freeplay” with multiple significations. Deconstruction poses certain fundamental questions to the traditional understanding of translation. The notion of the “original” is highly problematic for Derrida, who subverts the traditional binary of “original/translation” to bring out the significance of the latter. In his view, “the origin of philosophy is translation or the thesis of translatability” (1985, 120). For Derrida, every thought that is written is a translation, as

Introduction: Why Bakhtin?


writing brings out the impossibility of adhering to a fixed identity or meaning. Since translation involves both a differing and a deferring of meaning, Derrida writes that translation best explicates what he terms as “différance.” “Différance” refers to a “play of traces” that signifies an absence of an identifiable meaning in a text. Edwin Gentzler, commenting on the “play of traces” in translation, writes: In terms of informing translation theory, Derrida’s “play of the trace” belongs not to a translation which carries identifiable meaning across boundaries, but to a movement along an absent road, one that has disseminated or evaporated, of a voice which tells but cannot be captured, an echo disappearing as it is heard. (1993, 146)

In his essay “Des Tours de Babel” (1985), Derrida discusses how translation becomes a fabric of traces that is differing all the time. The French title is significant as Derrida demonstrates how meaning betrays us the moment we think we have captured it. As Joseph F. Graham writes in his “Translator’s Note”: The title can be read in various ways. Des means “some,” but it also means “of the,” “from the,” or “about the.” Tours could be towers, twists, tricks, tours, or tropes, as in a “turn” of phrase. Taken together des and tours have the same sound as detour, the word for detour. To mark that economy in language the title has not been changed. (1985, 206)

The Judeo-Christian myth where God interrupts the construction of the tower of Babel acquires the status of a text for Derrida, who sees the episode as leading to a “confusion of tongues.” By adopting Walter Benjamin’s phrase, Derrida writes that the “task of the translator” is to transgress the limits and disseminate meanings. Derrida questions the notion of “pure meaning” behind words or languages. Instead, there is a constantly altering graphic disorder. In his words: A translation would not seek to say this or that, to transport this or that content, to communicate such a charge of meaning, but to remark the affinity among languages, to exhibit its own possibility … In a mode that is solely anticipatory, annunciatory, almost prophetic, translation renders present an affinity that is never present in this presentation. (1985b, 186)

According to Derrida, any debate that “centres” around the “original” is the product of metaphysics. Deconstruction would erase any fixation of identities, meanings, and representations attached to the “original” by displaying the graphic force that operates in the “freeplay” of “traces.”


Chapter One

However, in the post-Derrida discussion, the notion of “différance” in translation has generated a lot of criticism. Andrew Benjamin, in his Translation and the Nature of Philosophy (1988), argues that pure difference has no place in the activity of translation, because such an understanding erases the specificity and significance of differences that play a major role in a translator’s task. For Benjamin, mutual understanding becomes almost “inescapable” (in Gentzler 1993, 178). He reaches back to the notion of rationality as envisioned by Kant and other post-enlightenment thinkers to provide a humanistic dimension to the activity of translation.3 Raymond Van den Broeckt, another major critic of deconstruction theories of translation, argues in his article “Translation Theory after Deconstruction” (1988) that, as Derrida attempts to subvert the source-text oriented theories, he should rather focus on the translated texts for the target culture. In his view, an approach like the one developed by Gideon Toury, highlighting the target-oriented nature of the whole enterprise of translation, is more acceptable than Derrida’s theories that advocate a “play of traces.” Apart from the above criticisms, Derrida’s approach presents certain practical difficulties. Derrida’s assertion that every thought is in the first place a translation is radical and revolutionary. It implies a dissolution of the division between the source-text and the target-text. However, such disintegration denies the subtle dialogues that a translator maintains with the source-text, and which in turn find an echo in the target text. Translation is certainly not an activity that “centres” around the sourcetext—Derrida rightly revolts against any such “centring.” However, Derrida’s supposition that there is nothing a priori to translation is questionable, as it does not provide any space for a discussion of the interactions of two cultures during translation. Translation is an activity where both the source-text and the culture that “writes” it, and the target text that emerges for a target audience, are important. The relation between the source-text and the target text should not be comprehended in terms of a “metaphysical dualism,” as Derrida asserts, because such an understanding is based on an assumption that there is a hierarchical relation, which requires a deconstructionist analysis. Rather, a theorist of translation should focus more on the agreements and disagreements during the process by situating the source language/culture and target language/culture on a democratic and dialogised platform.

Introduction: Why Bakhtin?


The above investigations elucidate certain key issues. The five approaches considered here—traditional, formalist, structuralist (or objectivist), targetoriented, and deconstructionist—have been among the most influential theories that have illuminated the subtle nuances of translation. Though we need to be cautious about constructing canons for translation theories, it is difficult to undermine the profound impact these approaches have exerted. As an exhaustive survey is not the purpose of the current study, the focus here is on discussing what could be called the “major currents” in translation theories. The central idea is to show the drawbacks and constraints of these theories that necessitate the emergence of a new perspective that would expand the present knowledge and account for certain limitations of the previous approaches. A Bakhtinian approach to discussing translation as a dialogic activity involving both “inner-dialogism” and “inter-dialogism” will be an innovative proposition for understanding translation. The task of the translator involves their entering a dialogic space, where the target text emerges from dialogue with both source language/culture and target language/culture. To translate is to create a new utterance with many “microdialogues.” In Bakhtin’s words, “the reproduction of the text by the subject (a return to it, a repeated reading, a new execution quotation) is a new, unrepeatable event in the life of the text, a new link in the historical chain of speech communication” (1994, 106). A Bakhtinian approach would not require us to prioritise either the “original” or its translation. Rather, it involves a process of mutual understanding, of “both/and.” Further, Bakhtin builds a bridge between language and culture by drawing our attention to the operation of cultural voices that are imbibed in a word in the course of its dialogic ventures. Dialogism accentuates the extralinguistic features of a discourse, which Bakhtin terms as “metalinguistics.” The notions of “polyphony” and “carnival,” that refer to the multiple voices in a text and subversion of hierarchies through laughter and parody, respectively, also provide critical insights for comprehending translation. Hence, a Bakhtinian approach will prove to be a major step towards achieving a new theoretical perspective for an understanding of the intricacies that make translation an extremely complicated endeavour. Let us now shift the focus towards an interpretation of the term “culture,” which has attracted many interpretations in the field of literary criticism and theory. The semantic multi-layeredness of the term makes it one of the most difficult to define and interpret.4 To trace the trajectory of the term is


Chapter One

certainly an arduous task, since it acquires multiple contextual implications over its journey through the different stages of historical meanderings. A good deal of confusion could be avoided if we focus on the connotations of the term following specific scholars and theorists. As our primary focus is on cultural encounters, we will examine the term “culture” merely for its meaning and significance both in the traditional scholarship (by which we mean pre-Raymond Williams’s scholarship on culture) and in twentieth-century literary theory. Though the term “culture” has been used to denote certain meanings, like “a way of life,” “civilization,” “customs,” “refinement,” “sophistication,” and “cultivation,” it was Matthew Arnold, in his Culture and Anarchy (1882), who used the term in a critical sense for the first time. For Arnold, culture refers to the whole set of ideas that elevate an individual from the drawbacks of societal prejudices and allow the perfection of their being to flourish. In what he terms “sweetness and light,” Arnold observes the true strength and spirit of culture (1993, 12–35). Sweetness and light also become vehicles for Arnold that carry a particular culture’s essence and spirit to other cultures. In this sense, cultural encounters help to spread this sweetness and light and illuminate each other’s dark corners. Interestingly, Arnold prioritised culture over religion; religion, for Arnold, was merely a supplement to the set of values that culture demonstrates. T. S. Eliot, in his Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1948), attempts to expand the meaning of the term “culture” by highlighting the relations a culture establishes with other cultures and nations. In Eliot’s words: we become more and more aware of the extent to which the baffling problem of “culture” underlies the problems of the relation of every part of the world to every other. When we concern ourselves with the relation of the great nations to each other; the relation of the great to the small nations; the relation of intermixed “communities,” as in India, to each other; the relation of the parent nation to those originated as colonies; the relation of the colonist to the native; the relation between people of such areas as the West Indies, where compulsions and economic inducement has brought together large numbers of different races: behind all these perplexing questions, involving decisions to be made by many men every day, there is the question of what culture is, and the question whether it is anything that we can control or deliberately influence. (1962, 27)

Eliot’s observations throw light on the interaction of cultures that are not similar to each other in any respect. The unevenness and the disorderliness among cultures call for an interrogation of the factors responsible for their

Introduction: Why Bakhtin?


hierarchisation and discrimination. Eliot is hinting at the politics of cultural encounters, which becomes an important concern for more recent postcolonialists and postmodernists. He seeks to interrogate culture not as something that “makes life worth living” for a particular community or a group of people, but in a world of many cultures and nations he questions the factors that disturb the peaceful living and thinking of people. Differences, in terms of “great nations” vs “small nations,” “parent nation” vs its “colonies,” “colonist” vs “native” etc., demonstrate asymmetrical platforms that disturb the process of dialogue between the two cultures. Eliot emphasises the role played by religion in curing the illness that plagues the modern world. Also in Eliot’s writings, a strain that prioritises the Western knowledge and religion as superior to the Eastern chain of thought is noticeable. Raymond Williams, in his Culture and Society (1958), adds a new dimension to the term “culture.” In his words, “the idea of culture is a general reaction to a general and major change in the condition of our common life. Its basic element is its effort as social qualitative assessment” (1958, 295). For Williams, culture invariably carries three elements: social order, historical change, and the responses and reactions of the masses to such changes. For Williams, any study of culture should concentrate on the social order that binds human existence and the materialist enterprise that drives human necessities. Williams emphasises the study of “cultural materialism,” which believes that the cultural products are always material products; that is, cultural forms and practices are to be analysed not in themselves but as determined by the societal materiality.5 Williams’s understanding of culture is not only more radical and subversive, but also, in its attempt to emphasise the material aspects, it provides a new leftist dimension to culture. Cultural exchange and encounters, from Williams’s perspective, are necessarily material exchanges. Hence, domination and exploitation in the process of production, which are at the heart of Marxist analysis, shift bases through such encounters and exchanges. Thus, cultures are the arenas not merely for class-conflicts but also for the determination and sustenance of a material base for “cultural production.” In the second half of the twentieth century, the influence of postmodernism encouraged the emergence of an interdisciplinary field that advocates a dissolution of disciplinary divisions and a recognition as well as celebration of marginalised cultures. In cultural studies, a study of


Chapter One

cultural politics takes precedence over philosophical scepticism, and retrieving the lost voices submerged due to domination perpetrated by the superior race, class/caste, and gender acquires importance. Michel Foucault’s Archaeology of Knowledge (1972), which elaborates the role played by discursive formations in knowledge construction, and Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978), which substantiates such a hypothesis, have influenced cultural analysis tremendously, especially in the context of countries that were once colonised. Said’s later book Culture and Imperialism (1993) problematises the question of the “other” by drawing our attention to the continuance of the discourse of the empire long after colonialism has ended. As it is the notion of “other” which is significant in any cultural inquiry, cultural studies has come to mean a study pertaining to the issues that surround the “Other.”6 Cultural studies is concerned with the way in which binaries, like white/black, male/female, centre/periphery, and nature/culture, are subverted and their implicit dominance overturned. Hence, concepts like “cultural crises,” “cultural hybridity,” “cultural syncretism,” and “cultural encounters” have come forth as problematic areas requiring a conceptual and an empirical analysis. In their essay “Cultural Studies: An Introduction,” Cary Nelson, Paula A. Treichler, and Lawrence Grossberg write: The productive tension surrounding the models of culture and modernity defines the specific practice of cultural studies, shapes the constantly transformed relations of history, experience, and culture, and provides a place which makes judgement and even intervention possible. (Nelson et al. 1992, 15)

This “productive tension” interweaves relations between different cultural practices, everyday life, and material, economic, political, geographical, and historical contexts. This tension is dialogic and open-ended because it encourages a dialogue between critical and political practices and explores fresh uncharted territories in the field of knowledge. It encourages intellectual and political experimentation, and challenges structures of power and hegemony. It aims to understand how the dominant discourse creates and sustains models of authority that govern and structure knowledge in different historical situations. A Bakhtinian understanding of cultural encounters will help us analyse the complex social and political contexts that manifest during an intermingling of cultures. As Bakhtin writes, “a dialogic encounter of two cultures does

Introduction: Why Bakhtin?


not result in merging and mixing. Each retains its own unity and open totality, but they are mutually enriched” (1994b, 7). For Bakhtin, when two cultures encounter each other they give rise to many questions that are possible only in dialogic encounters. Such questions about their identities would not arise had the two cultures not interacted. Cultures reveal themselves completely only when they encounter each other. Dialogic encounters help cultures to overcome their own “closedness” and “onesidedness.” They develop a creative understanding of each other and a potential to know the other of their self. There is no unitary merging in such an encounter, but there is a dialogical dispersion of their cultural ingredients and mutual enhancement of their cultural subtleties.

An Overview of the Major Principles of “Dialogism” The aim of the present study is to examine the process of translation and cultural encounters in light of the dialogical principles proposed by the Russian literary theorist and philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin (1895–1975). Dialogism, which briefly means the philosophy that bases itself on the dialogue between the self and the other and the relation between the two, forms the theoretical ground for the study.7 The study utilises the principles of dialogism like “dialogue,” “utterance,” “heteroglossia,” “polyphony,” “metalinguistics,” “indirect discourse” (of Voloshinov), and “architectonics" to explore the possibility of conceptualising a theoretical formulation for understanding and interpreting interlingual translations and intercultural encounters. It seeks to problematise interlingual translations by questioning the two extreme tendencies in translation; namely, complete target-orientedness, and close imitation of the sourcetext. At the same time, it envisages a Bakhtinian alternative to the existing models that interpret the cultural subtleties when two different cultures encounter each other. Bakhtin’s ideas, which appear in his scattered writings from the 1920s until his death in 1975, are elusive and abstruse. As Michael Holquist writes in his “Dedication” in The Dialogic Imagination: “There is nothing more fragile than the word, and Bakhtin’s was almost lost” (1994a, xi). Bakhtin’s oeuvre demonstrates the absence of a systematic philosophy; it lacks coherence and organisation. As he stays away from a “general system” that exhibits a “closure,” his philosophy is anti-structuralist. For Bakhtin, there is no “kernel” or “deep structure,” only unfinalizable utterances with a “chain of meanings” that populate the world. At the same time, it could be observed that throughout his writings there are many


Chapter One

repetitions and identical arguments; his fragmented and disjointed utterances lack a form that also demonstrates the anti-formalist thrust of his philosophy. However, a tension or a dialogic momentum can be identified in his writings. This tension arises out of the many meanings his concepts exhibit when they are used in different contexts. Bakhtin’s approach was to explain a particular term or concept by utilising its different meanings without strictly defining it. For instance, Bakhtin uses the term “dialogue” in multiple senses in different contexts. In the present study, from the point of view of extending and applying Bakhtin’s “dialogue” to the theory and practice of translation and cultural encounters, we will focus on three different senses of the term. Firstly, Bakhtin uses the term in its most ordinary sense to refer to a verbal interaction between two individuals. In his words: “Language lives only in the dialogic interaction of those who make use of it” (1984, 183). Here, the term “dialogic interaction” refers to the process of an utterance directed towards the other for a response. Three elements that are necessary for a dialogue become important in this context: the existence of two entities, the self and the other; the use of a language to convey an experience; and the relationship that develops between the two as a result of their interaction.8 Dialogue, in the second sense, is used as a metaphor to refer to the interand intra-orientation of a word with other words uttered or written. Owing to the interaction of the word with other alien words in the discourse, this orientation of the word leads to a conflictual condition, a “tension-filled environment.” The dialogic word always lives in such a tension. As Bakhtin writes: “The word is born in a dialogue as a living rejoinder within it; the word is shaped in dialogic interaction with an alien word that is already in the object. A word forms a concept of its own object in a dialogic way” (1994a, 279). This aspect of the word forming its own object through interaction with other alien words demonstrates the “internal dialogism” of the word; that is, the dialogism that “penetrates” the “entire structure” and “semantic layers” of the word (1994a, 279).9 In the third sense, the term “dialogue” is used by Bakhtin to refer to the “unfinalizability” and “open-endedness” of the world. It is used to refer to a pluralistic sense of truth that arises from an understanding of the world as a non-monologic entity. On a philosophical plane, it is a consciousness of the other, and through the other a consciousness of oneself. It is a special interaction that interweaves relationships on the basis of mutual reciprocation. In Bakhtin’s words:

Introduction: Why Bakhtin?


I cannot do without the other; I cannot become myself without the other; I must find myself in the other, finding the other in me (in mutual reflection and perception). Justification cannot be justification of oneself, confession cannot be confession of oneself. I receive my name from the other, and this name exists for the other (to name oneself is to engage in usurpation). Self-love is equally impossible. (1984, 311)

For Bakhtin, dialogue is a form of understanding human relations that are never static, but always in the process of being made or unmade. It is an epistemological device that accounts for the meaning and significance of human existence in an “unfinalizable” world.10 On the other hand, dialogism is a term used by Bakhtin scholars like Michael Holquist, Katerina Clark, and Ken Hirschkop to refer to the philosophy of Bakhtin. As Holquist writes: Stated at the highest level of (quite hair-raising) abstraction, what can only uneasily be called “Bakhtin’s philosophy” is a pragmatically oriented theory of knowledge; more particularly, it is one of several modern epistemologies that seek to grasp human behavior through the use humans make of language. (1990, 15)

Dialogism is a study of the various concepts put forth by Bakhtin in his writings, and their connotations and significance for the different branches of knowledge, particularly literary studies and philosophy. It is now possible to understand the tension and momentum in Bakhtin’s philosophy. There is a movement or a progress that Ken Hirschkop identifies as “conceptual movement” in Bakhtin’s principles (Hirschkop and Shepherd 1989, 4). According to Hirschkop, this conceptual movement enables Bakhtin, “to have a foot in the camps of both philosophy and empirical cultural analysis” (Hirschkop and Shepherd 1989, 4). This “tension” in his thought has made different interpretations possible, which in turn have led to an application of his principles to various theoretical issues and cultural phenomena. For instance, Don Bialostosky in his Wordsworth, Dialogics and the Practice of Criticism (1992) and Lynne Pearce in her Reading Dialogics (1994) have extended and applied Bakhtin’s principles to examine dialogism and polyphony in lyric poetry. Bakhtin and Cultural Theory (1989), edited by Ken Hirshckop and David Shepherd, consists of articles that explore Bakhtinian principles in the context of feminism, decolonisation, body politics, existentialism, and reader response criticism. In the same vein, Rethinking Bakhtin: Extensions and Challenges (1989), edited by Gary


Chapter One

Saul Morson and Caryl Emerson, is a collection of scholarly articles that explore notions like metaparody, oedipal dialogue, and hermeneutics in the context of Bakhtin’s ideas. Bakhtin and the Human Sciences: No Last Words (1998), edited by Michael Gardiner and Michael M. Bell, presents articles that demonstrate the relevance of Bakhtin’s philosophy to social, anthropological, political, and cultural theories. The conflict of “voices” in a culture, the operation of “centripetal” and “centrifugal” forces during war time, and different forms of “chronotopes” in postmodern and postcolonial situations are some of the concerns of Bakhtin scholars.

The Necessity of Utilising Bakhtin’s Principles Over the years, the term “translation” has undergone a radical metamorphosis from a language-restricted activity to something that refers to a transfer of information between any two semiotic systems.11 The emphasis on the intersemioticity of translation has widened the horizons of translation studies to include a rendering of meaning from one cultural context to another, from reality “proper” to virtual/fictional reality, and even from conceptual to empirical domains. Currently, translation studies is no longer a marginal discipline. Its independent status among other academic disciplines owes a great deal to literary theories. As Lawrence Venuti writes: “At the start of the new millennium, translation studies is an institutional network of scholarly communities who conduct research and debate across conceptual and disciplinary divisions” (2000, 334). In the present study, by translation we mean the “interlingual translation” or “translation proper” in Roman Jakobson’s sense; that is, a transfer of meaning from a source language to a target language (Jakobson 1959, 233) (for a critical analysis of Jakobson’s ideas see below). In this sense, translation is a communicative process that requires the translator to mediate between two languages and cultures. It is a process of crosscultural interaction that occurs in a particular social context. It does not merely require a cognisance of the literary qualities of the source-text but also a meticulous grasp of the linguistic traits, extra-linguistic characteristics like psychological and sociological dimensions, and cultural aspects of both the source culture/language and the target culture/language. A translator has to substitute the chain of signifiers of the source language/culture of the source-text with a chain of signifiers of the target language/culture.

Introduction: Why Bakhtin?


The task before the translator is to bridge the gap between the two cultures/languages and make a meaningful dialogue possible. S/he is troubled by certain inevitable questions: How does s/he translate without mechanically imitating the source-text? What theoretical postulates help in communicating the semantic density and stylistic modulations of the source-text? How does s/he address the problems of generic specificities, cultural markers, ideological dimensions, authorial intentions, and linguistic diversity? The translator should have a theoretical framework that would help her/him resolve these difficulties. S/he has to strike a balance between interpreting, abstracting, communicating, and explaining the subtleties of the source-language/culture to the target readers. In George Steiner’s words: Good translation … can be defined as that in which the dialectic of impenetrability and ingress, of intractable alienness and felt “athomeness,” remains unresolved, but expressive. Out of the tension of resistance and affinity, a tension directly proportional to the proximity of the two languages and historical communities, grows the elucidative strangeness of the great translation. The strangeness is elucidative because we come to recognize it, to “know it again,” as our own. (1975, 393)

Steiner’s observation highlights three key characteristics of a “good translation.” Firstly, it arises out of a tension between resistance and affinity. In other words, the translator should not separate herself/himself from either the source language/culture or the target language/culture. The act of translating should be a product of a flux between the two; this flux will create a conflictual condition where the interests of both the cultures overlap and assimilate. Secondly, this overlapping and assimilation occur due to the proximity and distance between the two cultures. The translator’s task is to carefully gauge the ratios and proportions of distance and proximity between the two languages/cultures. Not only should the translator understand the distance between the two cultures s/he is dealing with, but s/he should also locate herself/himself with respect to them. S/he has to build a relationship and sustain it to complete the task of translation. Thirdly, translation should demonstrate “elucidative strangeness”; that is, it should not be the product of an ideal mimesis; nor should it be a rewritten work that has little in common with the original. Arguably, a translated text comes into being out of a “dialogic tension.” The Bakhtinian notion of a dialogue becomes relevant in this context because dialogic relations are always “tension-filled environments.” The flux and tension of a dialogic condition lead to a situation where neither of the two entities becomes dominant. A dialogue in the Bakhtinian sense has


Chapter One

to be developed by the translator between herself/himself, the source language/culture, and the target language/culture. The closeness and the distance that need to be maintained in such a dialogue between the two cultures/languages have to be analysed by the translator, and they need to work out an attempt to produce the “elucidative strangeness” in translation. The present study seeks to demonstrate how Bakhtinian ideas can be productive in this regard to the theory and practice of translation. Another concern of the present study is the focus on the notion of “cultural encounter.” Culture exists in an interconnected network of cultures, contesting and acclimatising itself to the changing sequence of events. As Edward Said writes, “all cultures are involved in one another: none is single and pure, all are hybrid, heterogeneous, extraordinarily differentiated, and unmonolithic” (1993, xxix). Interactions, interdependence, and disagreements arise when two or more cultures enter a contact zone, and evoke a variety of interpretations.12 A hybridisation of values and practices takes place in such cultural encounters that destabilise any institutionalisation of discourses. A cultural encounter is a dialogic venture, characterised by agreements and affiliations, and disagreements and disjunctions. It is a unique and “unfinalizable” condition (in the Bakhtinian sense) that gives rise to cross-cultural dialogues. An enquiry of cultural encounters from a Bakhtinian viewpoint with examples from Indian literatures and cultural situations will be the second major aim of the current study. The focus of the present study is not merely on a conceptual analysis, but also on an intermingling of theory and practice of translation, cultural encounters and dialogism. The overall framework is Bakhtinian; that is, it is a dialogic approach, and the main aim is to examine a Western theoretical formulation through examples from the Indian literatures and cultural situation. Dialogue as the basis for human interaction, and thereby the basis for human existence, is a cogent argument relevant in every cultural condition. The study in itself is an encounter between the West and the East, and therefore dialogic from within. It is noteworthy that Bakhtin has little to say on the activity of translation. Unlike Derrida, who wrote on translation in his works like The Ear of the Other (1985a) and “Des Tours de Babel” (1985b), Bakhtin is mysteriously silent on the possibility of a dialogical approach to the process of transfer of meaning (for a brief analysis of Derrida’s position on translation, see below). Though Bakhtin’s disorganised writings offer a conceptual base for an interpretation of various cultural phenomena, they do not deal with specific cultural encounters, like that of the East-West. Now, how does

Introduction: Why Bakhtin?


one carry out an extension of Bakhtinian principles to certain fields of study that were not part of his philosophy? What principles are to be selected and how are they to be extended and applied to translation and cultural encounters? The conceptual movement in Bakhtin’s philosophy that enables an extension and application of his ideas provides us with answers to the questions raised above. As observed earlier, there is a tension or a momentum in his ideas that echoes throughout his philosophy.13 So long as dialogism deals with the relations between the self and the other which are in a state of continual flux, it would certainly not be a forceful extension and application of his principles to translation and cultural encounters.14 This is because the study of the process of translation and cultural encounters is inevitably the study of the self/other dynamics. In the case of translation, at least three kinds of dialogue between the self and the other can be identified: the first between the translator’s self and the source-text or the other; the second between the translator’s self and the target audience, the second other; and the third between the source culture/language and the target culture/language that a translator establishes through her/his translation. Translation, therefore, is a product of a dialogic encounter where the translator not only attempts to draw the attention of the target reader to the cultural peculiarities of the source-text, but also carries the authorial intentions as presented in the source-text to the target audience. It is important for us to understand that the translator’s self is not an isolated entity. Ahistorically and apolitically constituted, but like a dialogic self, it is intersubjective and the product of the numerous dialogues that keep occurring in a particular historical situation. That is, the translator’s self is constituted only in the process of a dialogue with the other. It cannot have an a priori existence. It comes into being due to the dialogic encounter with the source and target language/cultures. As Holquist writes: It cannot be stressed enough that for him [Bakhtin] “self” is dialogic, a relation. And because it is so fundamental a relation, dialogue can help us understand how other relationships work, even (or especially) those that preoccupy the sometimes stern, sometimes playful new Stoics who must dwell on the death of the subject: relationships such as signifier/signified, text/context, system/history, rhetoric/language, and speaking/writing. (1990, 19)


Chapter One

For Bakhtin, the self attains an identity and self-sufficiency due to its encounter with the other. Also, this identity is never complete but always in the process of creation. The intersubjectivity of the self is directly dependent on the categories of time and space in which the dialogic interaction occurs; that is, the perception of the reality outside always occurs in unique moments of time/space. Translation occurs in particular time and space categories and hence is the product of a unique moment. Translation, in this sense, is always a process engaged in the task of making something new out of the numerous dialogues already available. The translator creates relations and sustains them to accomplish translation. Her/his self is the result of a “co-being”; it exists due to its sharedness.15 Therefore, translation becomes the product of a selfhood that bases itself on sharedness, making it a dialogic activity. In the same vein, we can ascertain the dialogicality of cultural encounters. Cultures are not monolithic wholes, they are non-monologic entities that demonstrate an “internal dialogism” in the Bakhtinian sense. The inner contradictions, disjunctions, differences, and assimilations of a particular culture lead to a dialogue with another culture’s conflictual condition. Cultural encounters exemplify an intercontextual framework of juxtaposition and mutual reciprocation. If culture can be seen as a text, then studies in cultural encounters lead us to examine the intertextuality and intersemioticity of two or more cultures when they interact with each other. These encounters exemplify a dialogic tension between different cultural forms and practices. An investigation into this tension will not only be productive from the point of view of cultural studies, but will also help to problematise the relations between certain epistemic categories like history, modernity, discursive practices, and central and peripheral concerns in a culture. Since the study of cultural encounters forms a part of the larger rubric called “cultural studies,” the problematisations that cultural encounters present have mostly been examined from a perspective that emphasises the interplay of the power struggle in cultures. Political implications have been foregrounded and the vested interests that govern the institutionalisation of cultural practices have been highlighted. In their essay “Cultural Studies: An Introduction,” Cary Nelson, Paula A. Treichler, and Lawrence Grossberg write: In cultural studies, the politics of the analysis and the politics of the intellectual work are inseparable. Analysis depends on intellectual work; for cultural studies, theory is a crucial part of that work. Yet intellectual

Introduction: Why Bakhtin?


work is, by itself, incomplete unless it enters back into the world of cultural and political power and struggle, unless it responds to the challenges of history. Cultural studies, then, is partly driven by the political demands of its contexts and the exigencies of its institutional situation; critical practice is not only determined by, it is responsible to, its situation. (1992, 6)

The political concerns have been prioritised and the notions of mutual interanimation and reciprocation downplayed by the theories of culture. The present study aims to approach the problematisations of cultural encounters by focusing on their dialogic tensions and reciprocative relationships. The study attempts to foreground juxtaposition and assimilation as key characteristics of cultural encounters as against hegemony and dominance. With examples from the Indian literary and cultural situation and Indian English, the study seeks to provide a Bakhtinian perspective as an alternative to the existing models of understanding cultural encounters. In order to explore the dialogic aspects of translation and cultural encounters, the study aims to apply certain Bakhtinian categories like “active understanding” and “metalinguistics” (chapter two), Voloshinov’s “indirect discourse” (chapter three), “polyphony” (chapters four and five), and “unfinalizability” and “dialogization” (chapter six). The conclusion (chapter seven) aims to arrive at an “architectonics” that provides a conceptual framework for translation and cultural encounters. The central concern is to explore how Bakhtinian principles become relevant to these cultural and linguistic practices. Such an extension of Bakhtin’s ideas, especially to explore examples from the Indian literary, cultural and translational situation, has not received adequate attention. The study is not only an attempt towards filling up these lacunae, it also aims to draw Bakhtin closer to the Indian literary condition.

Notes 1 See Edwin Muir and Willa Muir (1959, 93). In their essay “Translation from the German” they argue how translation is a “secondary art.” To quote from their essay: “Translation is obviously a difficult art: I use that word, for if translation is not an art it can hardly be called translation. Yet it is a secondary art, and at best can strive for but never reach a final perfection” (1959, 93). This argument demonstrates the strong belief among translators in the “secondary” status of translation. 2 See Derrida (1985a, 165–207) for a detailed analysis of Walter Benjamin’s views on translation.

22 3

Chapter One

See Andrew Benjamin (1992, 18–41). In “Translating Origins: Psychoanalysis and Philosophy,” Benjamin draws our attention to the significance of Freud’s and Heidegger’s theoretical postulates to understand the problems of translation. 4 See Williams (1976, 16) for the tension embedded in the semantic multilayeredness of the term “culture.” 5 Apart from Williams’s Culture and Society (1958), his book Marxism and Literature (1977, 22–49) contains a detailed commentary on the notion of “cultural materialism.” Williams advocates that textuality, culture, and history are actually products of the “material forces” in any particular historical era. 6 It is interesting to note that before Said could speak on the problematisations between the coloniser/colonised and the notion of the Other, Frantz Fanon discussed this notion in his books Black Skin, White Masks (1952) and The Wretched of the Earth (1959). Commenting on the binary white/black, Fanon writes: “Face to face with this man who is ‘different from himself,’ he needs to defend himself. In other words, to personify the Other. The Other will become the mainstay of his preoccupations and his desires” (1967, 170). The theories about the concept of and the responsibility towards the Other begin from Fanon’s observations. They form the core of later postcolonial theories and cultural studies. However, in the writings of Emmanuel Levinas and Maurice Blanchot we can observe a higher degree of problematisation with regard to the notion of the Other. For Levinas, the Other is “unknowable” and elusive; and not merely the inferior other of any binary (1981, 4). Since the thesis on “being” expounded by philosophers in the first half of the twentieth century is a limitation, Levinas advocates that the Other is “locatable” outside the realms of being; hence it is always in a domain which is “otherwise than being.” 7 This understanding of the term “dialogism” is provided by Michael Holquist in his Dialogism: Bakhtin and His World (1990). As he writes: “the term used in this book to refer to the interconnected set of concerns that dominates Bakhtin’s thinking is ‘dialogism,’ a term, I hasten to add, never used by Bakhtin himself. There can be no theoretical excuse for spawning yet another ‘ism,’ but the history of Bakhtin’s reception seems to suggest that if we are to continue to think about his work in a way that is useful, some synthetic means must be found for categorizing the different ways he meditated on dialogue” (1990, 15). 8 See Holquist (1990, 28–38). According to Holquist, the notion of “dialogue” is very close to the “triadic construction of a linguistic sign,” which is constituted by three elements: an utterance, a reply and the relation between the two. 9 For a detailed analysis of the notion of “internal dialogism” see the chapter “Bakhtin’s Concept of the World” in David K. Danow’s The Thought of Mikhail Bakhtin: From Word to Culture (1991, 21–42). Danow examines how Bakhtin differs from the traditional linguistics in his refusal to accept the word as merely a lexical element. The word is interpenetrated by the dialogic voices of the speaker, the listener, and the socio-ideological condition of the times. 10 G. S. Morson and Caryl Emerson (2001, 36) emphasise this aspect of Bakhtin’s “dialogue.” The term “dialogue” here refers not merely to an interaction but the open-endedness of such an interaction. It is a metaphor to denote the “messiness” and “inconclusiveness” of human existence in an open world.

Introduction: Why Bakhtin? 11


Susan Bassnett (1994, 14) provides a detailed understanding of the different types of translation. Drawing from Jakobson’s three types of translation, she explicates notions like “decoding,” “recoding,” “equivalence,” and “interpretation.” Her study is also significant since she highlights the crucial role played by “semantic relationship” and “semiotic transformation” among various languages during the process of translation. 12 Terry Eagleton (2000, 26) draws our attention to the notion of “other” and how culture is in a way the study of this “other.” He references a series of arguments ranging from Geoffrey Hartman, Raymond Williams, and Frederic Jameson to state that: “Culture, is other people” (2000: 26). The study of culture, therefore, inevitably means the response of the other to the discourse directed towards the other. 13 See G. S. Morson and Caryl Emerson’s “Introduction: Rethinking Bakhtin” in Rethinking Bakhtin: Extensions and Challenges (1989). They argue how it becomes important to think “with Bakhtin’s ideas,” and to extend his ideas to certain areas of knowledge that he did not consider in his writings. To quote Morson and Emerson: “A number of recent thinkers have responded dialogically to him, either by extending his ideas into areas he did not consider, or by challenging the conclusions he draws from his own premises. By ‘extensions’ we do not mean mere ‘applications’; none of the critics in the present volume applies his thought in that way. Rather, each thinks with Bakhtin’s ideas, sheds light on current problems” (1989, 4). 14 See also Pechey (1989, 39–67). In the essay titled “On the Borders of Bakhtin: Dialogisation, Decolonisation,” Pechey argues that “movement or migration” is “inherent” in Bakhtin’s concepts. As he writes: “To find a resting place for any of these concepts is by the same token to lose it for ever” (1989, 40). For this reason, he feels that it is very important to keep these concepts in “circulation,” by which he means applying and extending them to analyse new cultural situations. 15 See Holquist (1990, 25) for an analysis of Bakhtin’s idea of living an “event” as “co-being.”


The “Dialogicity” of Translation Let us now proceed to analyse how a dialogic condition is enmeshed in the process of translation. As we have observed earlier, Bakhtinian dialogism is a complicated phenomenon that defies definition. It is certainly not a coherent and a systematic philosophy like structuralism or formalism that can be comprehended in normative terms. Rather, we encounter breaks, gaps, and discontinuities in the Bakhtinian thought. Bakhtin’s troublesome life and problematic career in Stalinist Russia echo in his concepts and principles, which have shades of darkness and elements of abstruseness about them. However, we can certainly locate certain Bakhtinian concerns in the term “dialogue.” Though at a lexical level it is used to denote communication between two or more individuals, Bakhtin’s dialogue refers to human action and cognition as well. Meaning is dialogically constituted, appropriated, and recognised against the background of the discourses that emerge from cultural concerns and traditions. There is a dialogic articulation and dialogic acceptance of utterances that constitute human existence. In Bakhtin’s words: “Any utterance is a link in a very complexly organized chain of other utterances … Any utterance is a link in the chain of speech communication” (1994b, 84). Dialogue is completely dependent on its participants belonging to diverse social areas. Bakhtin highlights the existence of cultural “fields” and the inevitable contradictions that might arise when these diverse “fields” interact. These contradictions have potential value; that is, they lead to future exchanges and keep alive the inner dialogicity of any cultural situation. They are “unfinalizable” and “open-ended”; they never reach the field of stagnation. “Closure” is unknown to them as they give rise to new dialogic concordance and new living interactions. In his formulations, Bakhtin was revolting against the formalist emphasis on code and context. For Bakhtin, dialogue is an assimilation of meaning, message, and context.

Translation and Dialogism


At the same time, there is also no structure for this dialogic interaction as it moves on eternally across the categories of time and space. The process of translation involves a response to the text of the source culture. The translator is positioned in a situation where s/he is required to understand the significance of the source-text for a different culture. S/he needs to respond to the utterance of the source culture by composing a new utterance that would keep alive the “link” that the source-text evokes. With utterances of her/his own, the translator becomes a participant in the authorship of the translated text, thereby making the text internally dialogized. Thus, the author of the source culture and her/his translator, who is the receptor and negotiator of the source-text, jointly author a translated text. Like a dialogue, which is directed towards the other for an “answer,” translation is always oriented towards the other; that is, the audience of the receiving culture. It alters and modifies itself as it moves on in the intersubjective links it creates for itself. The dialogic space of translation is a “tension-filled environment” in the Bakhtinian sense, characterised by agreements and disagreements. Translation takes place between two different cultural “fields,” and as a result there will be inevitable contradictions. The dialogicity of each culture is unique and different from that of another. The task of the translator is to find an “answering dialogue” through a careful scrutiny of these inner-dialogicities.1 The translator should not fuse the two cultures but maintain their distinctive identities by focusing on their cultural and linguistic peculiarities. The question before a translator is a dialogic one. It is not how to unite the two cultural entities, but how to emphasise their uniqueness in an utterance which has the voices of both the cultural “fields.” The prime significance for a translator is in the “otherness” of the two cultures, rather than a unity of the two distinct selves. A “synthesis” or “merging” was not acceptable to Bakhtin—his interest was in the process of “live-entering” and “living into” the self of the other to realise her/his otherness. This formulation of Bakhtin is not merely applicable to the self and the other as individual entities, it also has implications for society, culture, and language.

“Active understanding,” “outsideness,” and translation Among the crucial concepts proposed by Bakhtin, the notions of “outsideness” and “active understanding” are important. Imbued with philosophical implications, these concepts exhibit the potential for a


Chapter Two

possible Bakhtinian framework for translation. Apart from highlighting the role played by the other in aesthetic and creative tasks, these concepts draw our attention to the internal dialogicality of the self through creating a bridge between objectivity and subjectivity. They demonstrate a dialogic tension characterised by neither a complete detachment nor a subsumed attachment, but a judicious amalgamation that comprises both. The Bakhtinian notion of “outsideness,” which is also known as “transgredience,” depends on the dichotomy that exists between the self and the other.2 Bakhtin problematises the duality between the self and the other by perceiving the constitution of every self as being dialogical. Existence is always dialogical because existence evokes a response from the other. Existence is a dialogue between the individual subjectivity and the outer inter-personal world. The recognition of this event occurs at the border of these two domains that have no given structures. In a subtle way, Bakhtin prioritises the self over the other. The self is in the unfinalizable domain; that is, things are still in a state of incompleteness for the self. For the other, the world is in a completed form and structure. The other is “given,” and the world and life around the other are in a state of fixity. However, the self is in a state of flux and nonstagnation. The self does not know any bounds to its selfhood. It authors itself and perceives and places the other in a definite design. For Bakhtin, understanding depends on the ability of the subject to situate the self in the position of the other only to come back to one’s own position for the fulfilment of the creative task. To quote Bakhtin: “In order to understand, it is immensely important for the person who understands to be located outside the object of her/his creative understanding in time, in space, in culture” (1994b, 7). This is termed as “active understanding” by Bakhtin, as opposed to “passive understanding” where the self completely dissolves its individuality by totally merging into the territory of the other. A dialogic self is never passive; it is a “larger whole” that amalgamates itself with the experiences of the other. The active self, which is also dialogic at the same time, enjoys a surplus. This surplus enables the dialogic self to create intersubjective links in an unfinalizable world.3 “Passive understanding” is monologic because it allows only a singular perspective to exist. Creative tasks are impossible with “passive understanding” as it hinders the difference between the self and the other. In “active understanding” there is a possibility of a “surplus of seeing”; that is, the self is capable of “seeing” things that the other is not.

Translation and Dialogism


Dialogism involves this differential relation between the self and the other, which are situated in diverse categories of time and space. For Bakhtin, the degrees of variation in “outsideness” determine and define the relation between the self and the other. Hence, in Bakhtinian philosophy, nothing is anything in itself. The activity of translation necessitates such an “active understanding.” It requires an understanding of the subtleties of language and culture, both from within and without. As George Steiner writes: “Where two or more languages are in articulate interconnection, the barriers in the middle will obviously be more salient, and the enterprise of intelligibility more conscious” (1977, 47). This “enterprise of intelligibility” requires a translator to descend upon the territory of the other and to investigate its norms and features. It is not required for a translator to empathise with the source-text or the target readers and lose her/his identity. This has been the case with the traditional theories of translation and the target-oriented theories in recent times. Either by considering translation as a secondary activity (as in the Anglo-Saxon anti-theoretical tradition) or by attempting to dismantle the notion of a “source-text” (as in post-structuralist theories, especially deconstruction), theories of translation have advocated a “passive understanding.” 4 On the other hand, what is required is a “live-entering” into the territory of the other. In Bakhtin’s words: “I actively live into an individuality and consequently do not, for a single moment, lose myself completely or lose my singular place outside that other individuality” (in Morson and Emerson 1989, 11). This dialogic act enables a translator to retain the difference between the self and the other. Translation will then attain a voice of its own, which can neither be categorised as an imitation of the original nor as a completely detached work. This dialogic approach to translation will also enable a translator to strike a balance between fidelity and freedom as it requires both of them in varying degrees of “otherness.” This approach will not erase the presence of the subject as the author of the source-text. Rather, it presupposes her/his presence and involves the translator to continue her/his dialogue by producing a new response. Translation, being an utterance, evokes new utterances in the form of new translations, thus keeping alive the “unfinalizable” nature of the dialogue initiated by the author of the source-text. A dialogic approach to translation will not be concerned with a gain or loss discussion, but how the differential relations of the self (source culture) and the other (target culture) shape translation. By what parameters can a translator account for


Chapter Two

such differences? How to address the problem of voices in a translated text? And what are the reasons for either their presence or their absence? Translation, so far as it extends the influence of the source-text to another culture, contributes to the open-ended nature of the text and keeps alive the dialogue the source-text has initiated among its readers. In this sense, it is the “answering word” to the source-text. Further, a translation is directed to the readers of the target culture. Therefore, the task of a translator is also to compose an “answering word” that can meet the anticipation of the target readers. For example, Henrik Ibsen’s play entitled Bygmester Solness in Norwegian contains the name of the central character in the title. The English translation by Rolf Fjelde replaces the name with the definite article, and is simply The Master Builder.5 One of the important assumptions on which Bakhtin builds his theory is the notion of “both/and.” Unlike a binary construction where the second element is always considered inferior to the first, in Bakhtinian theoretical formulations both the former and the latter are viewed in terms of an asymmetric dualism. This dualism is not a hierarchical relation but a requirement for mutual recognition. Since single existence is a nonexistence for Bakhtin, “outsideness” and “active understanding” are attained when the principle element of “both/and” is reached. In Michael Holquist’s words: “Both/and” is not a mere wavering between two mutually exclusive possibilities, each of which is in itself logical and consistent, thus insuring the further possibility of truth, since a logic of this restrictive sort is so limiting that only one of the two options can be correct. Dialogue has its own logic but not of this exclusive kind. (1990, 41)

Translation requires the same “dialogic” between the self and the other. This “dialogic” demands the appreciation of both source culture and target culture. For a translator, in the Bakhtinian sense, consciousness is always consciousness about the other. The other here is not merely the source language/culture, but it is also target language/culture. There are anticipations from both sides and hence a translation should address either end. Translation is the product of a dialogic event, that is, an open-ended enterprise involving a creative understanding of the self and the other. The “event” of translation finds meaning when there is “co-being,” when both the source culture and the target culture co-exist in the translated text. As Bakhtin writes, “every word is directed towards an answer and cannot escape the profound influence of the answering word that it anticipates” (1994a, 280).6

Translation and Dialogism


Translation affects the source-text’s influence in another culture by contributing to its open-ended nature, keeping alive the dialogue it has initiated among its readers. In this sense, it is the “answering word” to the source-text. Further, a translation is directed to the readers of the target culture. Therefore, the task of a translator is also to compose an “answering word” that can meet the anticipation of the target readers. Hence, a translator is entrusted with the complex task of speaking to both the source language/culture and the target language/culture. Prioritisation in any form freezes the possibility of having an “active understanding” for the accomplishment of the task at hand. It is a monologic approach that fails to recognise the inner-dialogues and the inter-dialogues of texts during translation. A dialogic approach solicits a comprehension of the “ratios of otherness” between the source culture and the target culture; an understanding of the dynamic relation of the self and the other which are always in the process of “being made and unmade” (Holquist 1990, 29). Hence, it transcends the claims of subjectivity and objectivity to create a condition of shared understanding and co-existence required for the task of translation.

Bakhtin’s “Metalinguistics” and Translation In Bakhtin’s view, a text is not merely a linguistic entity comprising structures and norms, but a complex phenomenon where several extralinguistic elements are present. In his essay “The Problem of the Text,” Bakhtin locates two important “poles” in a text (1994b, 105). The language system forms the first pole; that is, a system of signs that can be repeated and reproduced. This pole refers to the linguistic and philological elements. A text is unthinkable without this pole—any text presupposes a language system and comes into being because of this system. For Bakhtin, any text can never be a thing-in-itself. The meaning of a text is always dependent on the dialogic interaction between the speaker and the perceiver; that is, between the author and the reader. However, for Bakhtin, every text is unique in its own right. He argues that there are extra-linguistic features in every text that are unrepeatable and “unreproducible.” This is the second pole, which is also termed the dialogic pole. The extra-linguistic features refer to the plan and purpose of authorship, qualities like the honesty, truth, and beauty of the text, contextual meanings and their implications for the addresser-addressee, and the temporal and the spatial dimensions of the text. Meaning is


Chapter Two

determined by the dialogic system of the text and not by the language system. A study of these features that lie beyond the limits of linguistics acquires pivotal importance for Bakhtin. He terms this study “metalinguistics” (1994b, 114). Bakhtin’s theory of language focuses on a study of diverse speech genres, ranging from daily speech to literary discourses. These speech genres differ in their voices, intonations, and the unique moments in which we utter them. For Bakhtin, the basic speech unit is an utterance. A text is an utterance for Bakhtin for two reasons. Firstly, every text has a plan. This refers to the intentions of the author before the task of composing a text. Secondly, every text will clearly indicate to the reader the realisation of that plan. The reader need not interpret the text in the manner envisaged by the author. The reader’s interpretation is not only dependent on the temporal and spatial categories of their reading, but also on a host of cultural factors. Hence, unlike a sentence, which can be repeated any number of times, an utterance/text cannot be completely repeated, either in the same language or otherwise. It is extra-linguistic because it is always directed towards the other to answer it. “Utterances may be as short as a grunt and as long as War and Peace” (Morson and Emerson 200, 125). Ferdinand de Saussure’s and Roman Jakobson’s approaches to language and literature prioritise a study of norms and deviations.7 In his book on Dostoevsky’s Poetics (1963/1984), Bakhtin criticises Saussure’s analogy between language and chess. Saussure’s view that “identity is wholly a function of differences within a system” (Saussure 1966, 110) is unacceptable for Bakhtin. He questions the very notion of a “system” as a necessary condition for the expression of meaning. For Bakhtin, a study of fixed and conventional features was not only a “finalized” enquiry requiring us to engage ourselves in “theoretism,” but it also implied the decontextualisation of language and life. According to him, Dostoevsky in his fiction destroyed the existence of such a system. The work of Dostoevsky is marked by multidimensional viewpoints about life and the world. There can be no fixities in such a worldview. In this sense, Bakhtin’s notion of “metalinguistics” is a revolt against the notion of “code” as the basis for human communication. As he writes: “A code is only a technical means of transmitting information, it does not have cognitive, creative significance. A code is a deliberately established, killed context” (1994b, 147).

Translation and Dialogism


Bakhtin, as a possible alternative to these formal approaches to language and literature, formulated the theory of metalinguistics to study the “eventness” that characterises every uttered word. Metalinguistics studies the nature and function of utterances in different forms. The primary concern of metalinguistics is to highlight the “inner dialogicality” of utterances through an analysis of their social and literary usage. In Bakhtin’s view, sign systems have a common logic; that is, a particular sign system can be translated into other sign systems since the underlying tone and structure are the same. However, a text is not merely composed of a sign system. The extralinguistic features of a text are its unique features, and there cannot be a common logic with regard to them. As Bakhtin puts it, “the text (as distinct from the language as a system of means) can never be completely translated, for there is no potential single text of texts” (1994b, 106). What Bakhtin means here is not that translation is not possible; rather, a blind imitation of the extra-linguistic dimensions of the text is not only difficult but also impossible. These features come to the fore after the interaction of two consciousnesses: the author and the reader. Theorists like Julia Kristeva, who feel that Bakhtin’s theory of language transcends the boundaries of traditional linguistics, have termed his study “translinguistics” (1980, 66). Let us now shift our focus to translation. A translator, in the first place, is a reader. The source-text is the utterance of the author/addresser directed towards the reader/addressee. As this utterance is unrepeatable, a translator cannot imitate or mirror it. However, one should be careful in concluding that, for Bakhtin, translation is impossible because utterances are unreproducible. A denial of translation would mean a monologic existence akin to non-existence. Bakhtinian philosophy, in a way, necessitates translation, as it is only through translation that a source-text keeps alive its dialogic spirit in another culture. A crucial question that a translator has to answer is: While the language system of a text is completely translatable into another language system, how to translate the dialogic system with its “unfinalizable” elements? As we have observed, the second pole is the uniqueness of the text. This pole, which does not adhere to either a logical coherence or a linguistic pattern, becomes a major issue for a translator. Can a translator perform the task of re-inventing the dialogic system for his/her target readers situated in a different time, space, and culture?


Chapter Two

An answer to this complex question demands an understanding of the textcontext and subject-addressee relationships. The “chain of meanings” that is brought forth by the source-text as an utterance is the result of an interaction between author and reader. According to Bakhtin: “The event of the life of the text, that is, its true essence, always develops on the boundary between two consciousness, two subjects” (1994b, 106). This is not to ignore the text-context relationship; the context of writing and the context of reading are entirely different. Meaning arises out of a shared network of textual/contextual and subject/reader relationships. David Shepherd, in his essay “Bakhtin and the Reader,” writes: it is important never to lose sight of the fact that the character of the textreader encounter is dialogic: if the meanings of the text are indissociable from the reader’s active understanding, then that understanding in its turn must strictly speaking be equally indissociable from the encounter from the text, and must be precisely context specific. (1989, 99)

Shepherd’s analysis throws light on the significant role the context of reading plays in an active understanding of the text. A new context of reading implies a different understanding of the text. This further implies that every reading act is a deciphering of a different metalinguistics of the text. For a translator, who reads the source-text in a specific context, the comprehension of the dialogic system of the text is dependent on the unique moment of understanding the text. We can move a step further and argue that the context of reading for a translator is also the moment when the translator composes a new dialogic system for their target-readers. Hence, the dialogic encounter with the text enables the translator to implant a new second pole in her/his utterance. If it is possible for a translator to infuse her/his work with a dialogic system, the next question s/he encounters is how should s/he go about it? We have observed that metalinguistics repudiates the codification of language. Without linguistic devices or formal elements, how can a translator embark upon her/his arduous endeavours? This appears to be a vexed question. A closer analysis of Bakhtinian metalinguistics reveals that, though Bakhtin was against normative codification, he was, in a very subtle way, providing us with principles that govern the dialogicality of words and utterances, which he terms “internal dialogization,” “doublevoiced words,” “dialogized heteroglossia,” and “the word with a loophole.”8 With the help of illustrative examples, let us now proceed to analyse their relevance to the process of translation.

Translation and Dialogism


“Inner Dialogism,” “Double-voicedness,” and Translation For Bakhtin, the presence of what he terms “double-voiced” words is a necessary condition for the work to be polyphonic. The creative task demands the incorporation of these words since they exemplify two semantic intentions. As Bakhtin writes in his book Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, “an author can … make use of another person’s word for his own purpose by inserting a new semantic orientation into a word which already has—and retains—its own orientation … Then two semantic orientations, two voices, are present in a single word” (1984, 156–7). The word here is not the author’s word but it is a borrowed word; hence, it is the “word of the other.” Due to the “internal dialogization,” that is, the capacity of the word to be dialogized from within, the word attains a special dialogic feature and becomes “double-voiced.” In his book on Dostoevsky, Bakhtin examines the functioning of these words with many examples and classifies them into two major categories, namely “passive-double-voiced words,” and “active-double voiced words.”9 Of much interest for a translator are the words belonging to the first category where the author deliberately utilises their two semantic intentions. Translation is primarily a linguistic and cultural process. According to Steiner: “The facts of language are as crowded with contrasting impulse as Leonardo’s drawings of the braids and spirals of live water” (1977, 20). This is particularly so because a translator is constantly at work with the differing speech patterns of two languages and cultures. A translator’s performance necessitates certain suppositions about language use. In the words of Lawrence Venuti: “A translation theory always rests on particular assumptions about language use, even if they are no more than fragmentary hypotheses that remain implicit or unacknowledged” (2000, 5). An example will help us understand the relevance of “passive-doublevoiced words” for a creative writer and translator alike. T. S. Eliot, in the last part of his poem “The Waste Land,” suggesting a cure to the disillusionment of the modern civilization, uses three Sanskrit words: “Datta,” “Dayadhvam,” and “Damyata”: Then spoke the thunder Da Datta: what have we given? … Da


Chapter Two Dayadhvam: I have heard the key … Da Damyata: The boat responded … Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata. Shantih shantih shantih (ll 401–32)

Though in his notes to the poem he provides us with the meaning of these terms in English—give, sympathise, and control—Eliot deliberately abstains from using the English equivalents in the text. This is because, apart from utilising the semantic intentions of these words as they figure in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Eliot intends to relate them to the context of his text—the barrenness of the modern world.10 In the Hindu myth, the utterance of Prajaapati, the Creator, is interpreted variously by men, demons, and gods. Thus, his utterance “Da” is interpreted to mean “Datta,” “Dayadhvam,” and “Damyata,” respectively Eliot agrees with Prajaapati’s utterance being a cure to spiritual emptiness. While “Datta” means “[You all] give,” Eliot raises the question: “What have we given?” We can notice here the operation of both “tradition and the individual talent.” Eliot approvingly uses the mythical tradition, but adds an individual voice to make the words “double-voiced” in the Bakhtinian sense.11 By retaining the words of the source-text (Brihadaranyaka Upanisad), he translates them for his target readers. In the process, one can observe an agreement and a reinforcement of the semantic context of the words of the source-text. In Indian English writing, we can find numerous examples of “double voiced” words. In order to translate the subtleties of their culture, the Indian English writer is faced with the inevitability of utilising the semantic value of words from a native language. For example, Raja Rao in his works uses Sanskrit and Kannada words with remarkable felicity of expression. He appears to have been obsessed with two polarities: the Indian philosophical tradition on the one hand, and the use of English as the medium for creative expression on the other. If he had chosen to write in Sanskrit or Kannada, he would not have encountered the difficulty of translating Indian modes of thinking and feeling. Raja Rao himself captured the dilemma facing the Indian English writer as follows: One has to convey in a language that is not one’s own the spirit that is one’s own. One has to convey the various shades and omissions of a

Translation and Dialogism


certain thought-movement that looks maltreated in an alien language. I use the word “alien,” yet English is not really an alien language to us. It is the language of our intellectual make-up—like Sanskrit or Persian was before—but not of our emotional make-up. We are all instinctively bilingual, many of us writing in our own language and in English. We cannot write like the English. We should not. We cannot write only as Indians. We have grown to look at the large world as part of us. Our method of expression therefore has to be a dialect which will some day prove to be as distinctive and colourful as the Irish or the American. Time alone will justify it. (1938, v–vi)

Raja Rao exploits the resources of English and Sanskrit by creatively incorporating double-voicedness in his novels. As R. Parthasarathy points out: In examining Rao’s use of English it is important to keep in mind his philosophical and linguistic orientations. The house of fiction that he has built rests on these twin foundations. Amongst South Asian writers in English he is perhaps unique in his attempt not only to nativize, but also to Sanskritize, the English language. (1998, 12)12

In his novel The Serpent and the Rope (1958), words like “Karma,” “Maya,” “Dharma,” and “Mantra” appear quite frequently to create a Hindu metaphysical ambience. These are not merely borrowed words or loan translations, but deliberate choices of the authors to assert an Indian sensibility in English. Let us consider the word “Karma” as Raja Rao uses it. Ramaswamy, the protagonist, describes Savitri as follows: For Savitri life was a game, a song … She spoke rapidly, and in between her amusing chatter was a space of sorrow, large as her eyes; you could almost breathe and know that this came from no single act or thought but from some previous karma, the sorrow of another age. She bore such sorrow, it seemed at moments, that she sang just to cover it up, or she would dramatize herself smoking or sit selfconsciously as though to hide some unnamable disease that others could see and smell but she could not know. (Rao 1968, 122)

Here, the concept of “Karma” successfully provides a glimpse of the metaphysical aura that pervades Indian tradition. In the glossary appended to the novel, Raja Rao explains “Karma” as “the Hindu concept that you pay here for your past deeds, good or bad” (407). He is aware of the inadequacy that might occur in the creative work if “Karma” is substituted by the above cryptic explanation. Thus, one can notice two voices when


Chapter Two

“Karma” is brought to English. The first voice refers to the complex meaning and the second is the voice of the author translating this term to the target-readers by agreeing with and retaining the same word. Gopal Krishna Adiga, a famous Kannada poet from the second half of the twentieth century, has a poem to his credit titled “Bhoota.” The poem deals with the theme of maturity in life and art, symbolically explained through the images of embryo, water, and gold. The poem presents a crisscrossed dialogue between the past, the present, and the future by invoking the image of the haunting ghosts that resist any attempt at a transformation into gods due to the impotence of the present. The title “Bhoota” is polysemous with a “chain of meanings,” among which three are easily recognisable. At a temporal level, the term is used to refer to the past. Psychologically, it is used to denote ghosts and demons. On a higher metaphysical plane, the word is also used to connote “beingness.” The source-text in Kannada clearly reveals the interplay of the different meanings of the word. Translations of this poem into English inevitably face a serious problem, as no word in English can do justice to the play on the word “Bhoota.” A. K. Ramanujan and M. G. Krishnamurthy, in their translation, title the poem “Ghosts and Pasts” (Nadig 1988, 151). S. Sumatheendra Nadig, on the other hand, is in his translation happy with the title “Pasts” (1988, 151). Both these titles fail to capture the dynamic double-voicedness of the source-text. A part of the meaning is retained, while a huge portion of the “spectral dispersion” of the word is lost. A better way of dealing with this situation would have been to retain the word “Bhoota” as the title. Such an act would fuse one more voice to the already existing multiple voices in the word, thereby contributing to the dialogic appeal of translation. Some of P. S. Rege’s poems in Marathi have been translated into English by Philip C. Engblom (1989, 142–9), an American specialist on Marathi poetry. While translating the mythical names “Gauri” and “Shyamala” in Rege’s poems, Engblom chooses to translate them as the “Fair One” and the “Dark One” with a footnote gloss stating: “The ‘Fair One’ (Gauri) and ‘Dark One’ (Shyamala) are epithets respectively of Parvati and Kali, who are two aspects of one goddess” (1989, 142–9). The reference to the mythical goddess and the semantic richness of the original text are thus completely lost in the translated text, where the English equivalents tend to be monologic, emphasising only the colour of the skin. The translation would have been more effective had Engblom retained the two words by double-voicing them in his English translation.

Translation and Dialogism


Due to the co-existence of two different cultural voices, the phenomenon of double-voicedness encourages a creative translatability of cultures. The examples discussed above show how, through an agreement, the two voices allow dialogic confabulations to operate in a translated text. By enabling a translator to incorporate the cultural traces of both the source culture and the target culture, double-voiced words provide a way out of the dilemma of adhering to either of the texts. However, this approach is not the same as the domestication and foreignisation during translation outlined by Friedrich Schleiermacher.14 Translation need not be blindly “loyal” to its “mother” or source-text. Again, it need not be a product of the “father’s” language/culture; that is, the target cultures. The incorporation of metalinguistic features requires a translator to utilise “ethnodeviant pressure” along with “ethnocentric” impulses to create a dialogic ambience between the source-text and the target-text. Adopting Bakhtinian principles, it could be certainly argued that the two tendencies of domesticating and foreignising are akin to the operation of the centripetal and the centrifugal forces during translation. The analysis of the relevance of double-voiced words above indicates how “both/and,” that is, both the author of the source-text and the reader of the target culture, could be brought to a dialogic space of interaction where meaning arises out of a shared understanding. The semantic layers of double-voiced words interweave “living dialogic threads” in the translated text to create an ambience of open-endedness. The above examples show how the Bakhtinian notion of “double-voiced” words can prove rewarding during the task of translation. They preserve the semantic intentions of the source-text and yet allow dialogic confabulations to operate in the translated text through an oscillation of meaning in two voices. Both the voices contest with each other and assert their presence to make translation an open-ended and dialogic enterprise. They re-contextualise words and utterances and enable textual transfer by composing a new “source-text.” Having analysed the significance of “internal dialogism” and “doublevoicedness,” let us now turn to Voloshinov’s notion of “indirect discourse” and its relevance to the process of translation in the next chapter.


Chapter Two

Notes 1

A parallel could be drawn between Bakhtin’s notion of “answerability” and Levinas’s notion of “responsibility.” Just like Bakhtin, who believes that the self is “answerable” to the other, Levinas highlights the unlimited “responsibility” the self has towards the other. For an analysis of Levinasian “responsibility,” see Levinas (1981, 9–11). 2 See Holquist (1990, 11) for a discussion of the notion of “transgredience.” 3 The terms “outsideness,” “active understanding,” and “passive understanding” are taken from Bakhtin’s conceptualisations of aesthetic activity. In his essay “Toward A Philosophy of the Act” (1993, 1–77), Bakhtin draws our attention to a conceptual category called “being-as-event,” which presupposes an answerable participation. In his words: “The entire aesthetic world as a whole is but a moment of Being-as-event, brought rightfully into communion with Being-as-event through an answerable consciousness—through an answerable deed by a participant” (Bakhtin 1993, 18). 4 See Gentzler (1993, 150–75) for an analysis of the trends in translation theories in recent times and their shift of emphasis from the source-text to the target-text. 5 See Sprinchorn (1964, 191). 6 See Bakhtin’s discussion on utterances in the essay “The Problem of Speech Genres” (1994b, 60–102). According to Bakhtin, “any speaker is himself a respondent to a greater or lesser degree. He is not, after all, the first speaker, the one who disturbs the eternal silence of the universe” (1994b, 69). This leads Bakhtin to interpret any existence as always a response to some other existence. Therefore, consciousness is always directed towards the other. 7 For a discussion of the difference between Bakhtinian and Jakobsonian models of communication see Todorov (1984, 54–5). Todorov’s discussion also throws light on the “translinguistics” theory of Bakhtin, where the “utterance” of Bakhtin is juxtaposed with the “message” and “code” most commonly seen in the theories of communication. Todorov, in his analysis, shows how the two models present what he calls a “fundamental opposition.” 8 Apart from Bakhtin’s works, for a broader analysis of the terms mentioned here see Morson and Emerson (2001, 121–70). 9 The notion of “active double-voiced words” has been deliberately left out here because in this category the central motif is to carnivalise the utterance. A dialogic translation would certainly have two voices, but the second voice should not mock the author’s intentions. That might lead to a situation where one voice would become important at the cost of the other. 10 The Upanishads, being texts from the oral tradition of ancient India, are difficult to date. The speculative dates of composition are from the 8th to 6th centuries BC. 11 See T. S. Eliot’s critical essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent” (1962, 293– 302). 12 Kachru (1998, 60–88) discusses Raja Rao’s English as instinctively bilingual. He highlights Rao’s insistence that English is not “really an alien language.” It can be internalised and made our own tongue.

Translation and Dialogism 13


For a discussion of the problems in translating the title “Bhoota” see Nadig’s essay “Multiple Translations: A Case Study” (1988, 150–8). 14 Schleiermacher draws an analogy between the father’s word and the mother’s tongue to refer to the foreignising and domesticating tendencies in translation. See Chamberlain (1992, 57–74) for an analysis of the gender and metaphorics of translation that begin with the formulations of Schleiermacher. Also, Lawrence Venuti (1995, 19–39) traces the trajectory of translation to show how translation in the European countries has always exhibited a tilt towards the foreignising method.


This chapter seeks to critically investigate the notion of “indirect discourse” as envisaged by Voloshinov, and attempts to understand the process of the interlingual translation of creative literatures in light of his specifications. The chapter aims to understand the activity of translation metaphorically as transforming a source-text into an indirect discourse. The central concern is to exemplify how Voloshinov’s observations on indirect discourse can prove to be effective strategies for a translator in communicating the semantic liveliness of the source-text. The chapter is divided into four parts: the first takes up the issue of authorship and disputed texts; the second seeks to elucidate Voloshinov’s views on indirect discourse; in the third, the purport is to provide a theoretical framework for understanding the activity of translation as composing an indirect discourse in Voloshinov’s sense; and the fourth seeks to exemplify the theoretical position with the help of a few examples from the translations of Marathi poetry and Hindi prose into English.

Voloshinov and “the Bakhtin Circle” Scholars in Bakhtin Studies like David Shepherd, Craig Brandist, and Galin Tihanov have emphasised the presence of “the Bakhtin Circle” in post-revolution Russia. In their opinion, apart from Bakhtin, three other literary theorists and philosophers (Valentin Voloshinov, Pumpianskii, and Pavel Nikolovich Medvedev) were part of this “circle” that had “an impressive lineage in Russian social, political and cultural history” (Shepherd 2004, 3). According to Shepherd, they were Bakhtin’s associates in his intellectual and political endeavours, and played a significant role in shaping his thoughts and ideas about dialogism.1 The current scholarship is of the opinion that the author of Freudianism: A Critical Sketch (1927) and Marxism and The Philosophy of Language (1930) was Voloshinov, and The Formal Method in Literary Scholarship

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(1928) was written by Medvedev. Shepherd terms Bakhtin’s association with the other three members of the Circle as “centre and circumference” (Shepherd 2004, 1), thereby bringing to light the marginal status provided to these thinkers by scholars and critics. In Shepherd’s words: even if there is a case for acknowledging that the naming of the Circle after Bakhtin has a certain practical validity, it does not follow from this that other members of the Circle may not have possessed intellectual credentials as great as, or even greater than Bakhtin’s, or that their intellectual endeavours and achievements are best accounted for with reference to their association with Bakhtin. (2004, 11)

One of the prime concerns of the Circle was to investigate the problems posed by Saussurean linguistics, and provide an alternative theoretical formulation to understand language. Voloshinov’s Marxism and The Philosophy of Language is of particular interest here since it provides us with a trajectory of studies in linguistics in Russia until then. Apart from an inquiry into the social function of language, the book discusses the historical and sociological aspects of the word and the utterance. Voloshinov identifies two trends in the linguistic scholarship during his times; namely, “abstract objectivism” and “individualistic subjectivism” (Voloshinov 1973, 48). While “abstract objectivism” is a critical term that Voloshinov utilises to refer to the formal linguistic scholarship that rooted itself in “Saussureanism,” “individualistic subjectivism” refers to the study of linguistic signs that are unique, individualistic, and ideologically charged. His predisposition towards the latter is certainly obvious throughout the text. However, it could be observed that the theoretical idiom and the conceptual framework provided by Voloshinov have not received much critical attention. Either his ideas are simplified as the theory of a Marxist language or simply understood as some postulates of Bakhtin’s dialogical principles.2 Both the assumptions are false since they underestimate the potential of Voloshinov’s ideas. Partly, this marginal status accorded to Voloshinov’s ideas is due to the forceful imposition of a peripheral place for him in the Circle. Authorship issues have received more attention than the ideas present in his text. In the words of Vladimir Alpatov: Unfortunately the problematic of the book is discussed more, especially in its authors’ homeland, by philosophers and literary scholars than by linguists, although there is much of interest here. But the topic, “Marxism and the Philosophy of Language and linguistics today” is in need of treatment in its own right. (2004, 96)


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A Theoretical Survey of Voloshinov’s “Indirect Discourse” Voloshinov, in his social and historical investigation of language, presents a critical analysis of reporting and reported speech in the Russian language.3 His exploration of the “author’s” and “another person’s” speech leads him to distinguish between three major and complex speech categories: direct discourse, quasi-direct discourse, and indirect discourse (1973, 125). In his elaboration of direct discourse, Voloshinov’s main concern is to understand the “reciprocal infectiousness between the reporting context and the reported speech” (1973, 133). Quasi-direct discourse, according to him, blurs the dividing line between the reported and the reporting speech and is characterised by half narration and halfreported speech (1973, 134). Distinct from these two types is the indirect discourse, “the pattern least elaborated in Russian,” which envisages an analytical tendency that modifies the emotive features of the direct discourse by making them appear different (1973, 127). It transforms the form of the message into its content, and renders it in a new and different manner with adequate pictorial effects. Indirect discourse is characterised by what Voloshinov calls an “analytical tendency” that interprets the message of the direct discourse. It elaborates, modifies, and transforms the message to make it new and appealing, and hence a mechanical transmission of the message is impossible here.4 Indirect discourses vary in degrees and directions of analysis. Sometimes, the form of the message is transformed into the content. As Voloshinov writes: The analytical tendency of indirect discourse is manifested by the fact that all the emotive affective features of speech, insofar as they are expressed not in the content but in the form of a message, do not pass intact into indirect discourse. They are translated from form into content, and only in that shape do they enter into the construction of indirect discourse, or are shifted to the main clause as a commentary modifying the verbum dicendi. (1973, 128)

For Voloshinov, the analytical tendency of indirect discourse “hears” the message of the direct discourse differently, and reproduces the message by interpreting its intonations and inflections. Imperative, exclamatory, and interrogative sentences are modified in the indirect discourse, so much so that their recognition becomes solely dependent on the content. It erases punctuation marks like ellipses and substitutes them with modifying

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clauses and phrases. Voloshinov provides us with an example to demonstrate the analytical disposition of indirect discourse: Thus, for example, the direct utterance, “Well done! What an achievement!” cannot be registered in indirect discourse as, “He said that well done and what an achievement.” Rather, we expect: “He said that that had been done very well and was a real achievement.” Or: “He said, delightedly, that that had been done well and was a real achievement.” (1973, 128–9)

What acquire significance for Voloshinov are the alterations and innovations that supplement the message of the direct discourse. These creative infusions enrich the meaning of the direct discourse that otherwise would appear barren and indifferent. The analyser who translates the message into the indirect discourse adopts certain modifying approaches. Voloshinov classifies these approaches as “referent analyzing” and “texture analyzing” modifications (1973, 130). The “referent analyzing” modification is preoccupied with the thematic significance of the message, and as such it depersonalises the message. Though Voloshinov mentions authors like Turgenev’s and Tolstoy’s writings as instances that demonstrate, to a certain extent, the prevalence of this modification, he does not provide us with concrete examples from their texts. He asserts that this modification largely prevails in scientific, philosophical, and political discourses in the Russian language. Of particular interest is the “texture analyzing” modification, which attempts to assimilate the idiosyncratic characteristics and the stylistic anatomy of the direct discourse. The distinctive features, like contextual relevance, emphasis, typicality, collocation, and inflection of the utterance, are absorbed and retained in this modification. These features are “made strange” and presented either with the help of complementary phrases/clauses or by utilising quotation marks to express the peculiarities of certain words. In Voloshinov’s words: The words and expressions incorporated into the indirect discourse with their own specificity detectable (especially when they are enclosed in quotation marks), are being “made strange,” to use the language of the Formalists, and made strange precisely in the direction that suits the author’s needs: they are particularized, their coloration is heightened, but at the same time they are made to accommodate shadings of the author’s attitude—his irony, humor, and so on. (1973, 131)

Voloshinov provides us with some examples from Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and The Idiot to substantiate the operation of the


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“texture analyzing” modification. To quote one example from The Brothers Karamazov that demonstrates the operation of quotation marks: Krasotkin proudly parried the accusation, giving to understand that it would indeed have been shameful “in our day and age” to play makebelieve with his contemporaries, other 13-year-olds, but that he did it for the “chubbies” because he was fond of them, and no one had any business calling him to account for his feelings. (in Voloshinov 1973, 131)

According to Voloshinov, the “texture analyzing” modification, with its modifying phrases and quotation marks, individualises another person’s speech. It captures and accommodates the “verbal envelope” of the speech that results in a high degree of pictorial effect in the indirect discourse. For Voloshinov, the “texture analyzing” modification is characterised by a critical and realistic individualism, as against the rationalistic individualism of the “referent analyzing” modification. Therefore, it entrusts itself with the task of critically evaluating the direct discourse and not merely mechanically transmitting the idea presented there. This allows the author to examine the speaker’s utterance and comment upon its unique features. A comparison of Voloshinov’s word within quotation marks and Bakhtin’s double-voiced words will certainly be an interesting endeavour. In Bakhtin’s double-voiced words, an author conveys two intentions through a common word/utterance. As Bakhtin writes: an author can … make use of another person’s word for his own purpose by inserting a new semantic orientation into a word which already has— and retains—its own orientation … Then two semantic orientations, two voices, are present in a single word. (1984, 156–7)

A double-voiced word is always a borrowed word, or “the word of the other.” Similarly, the word within quotation marks is also a borrowed word or expression that is a part of “another person’s speech.” However, at least two differences can be observed here. While the word within quotation marks is a stylistic device used to capture the idiosyncratic characteristics of another person’s speech, double-voicedness is a larger phenomenon that attempts to combine two semantic intentions despite their differences. Secondly, while the word within quotation marks is used to exemplify the peculiarities and strangeness of words and utterances, double-voiced words are words that show both agreement and disagreement between the author and another person whose word the

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author uses. G. S. Morson and C. Emerson elucidate the subtle differences between Voloshinov and Bakhtin thus: Voloshinov, with his special interest in shared horizons and synthesizing dialectical processes, stresses how the elimination or overcoming of boundaries between speech acts facilitates complex communication. By contrast, Bakhtin tends to stress the importance of boundaries and of unmerged horizons, which provide the outsideness that ultimately makes all dialogue and all creativity possible. (2001, 166)

Translation and “Indirectedness” Translation is above all a communication process. A translator is a special and privileged reader who is entrusted with the task of communicating their experience of reading the source-text to the target audience. The meaning, content, and significance the source-text carries should be “reported” to the readers of the translated text. In Roman Jakobson’s words: “a translation is a reported speech; the translator recodes and transmits a message received from another source. Thus translation involves two equivalent messages in two different codes” (1959, 233). This gives rise to a crucial problem—the cultural voices that are unique to a specific culture might be devoid of any significance in another culture. The source-text written in a particular context, targeted at specific readers, when translated for a different culture might lose its multi-layered meaning and relevance. Thus, the task of the translator is to effectively bridge the gulf across cultures. S/he has to mediate and communicate the belief systems, social tendencies, values, and practices of the source culture to a new culture where such cultural predispositions might not exist at all.5 Hence, a translator has to embark upon interpretation and elucidation for their target readers. What is implicitly and indirectly suggested in the source-text needs an explanation for readers belonging to a different culture. The semantic divergence needs to be linked by ways of modification and illustrations. In George Steiner’s words: the mechanics of translation are primarily explicative, they explicate (or, strictly speaking “explicitate”) and make graphic as much as they can of the semantic inherence of the original. The translator seeks to exhibit “what is already there.” Because explication is additive, because it does not merely restate the original unit but must create for it an illustrative


Chapter Three context, a field of actualized and perceptible ramification, translations are inflationary. (1975, 277)

This “explicative” nature of translation calls forth an analytical tendency that examines the source-text in all its unique dispositions. The translator has to answer certain crucial questions. What facets and peculiarities of the source-text need an explanation for the target readers? What methods and strategies could be devised to create a similar perceptive context, without at the same time mechanically transmitting the message? More importantly, how to maintain a dialogic concordance and yet preserve the semantic polarities of the source language/culture and the target language/culture? The practice of translation will certainly be a disorganised endeavour if the translator does not take cognisance of these questions. The theme, content, and more importantly form of the sourcetext might require a modification for the receiving culture. As B. Hatim and I. Mason explain: The form of a source-text may be characteristic of SL [source language] conventions but so much at variance with TL [target language] norms that rendering the form would inevitably obscure the “message” or “sense” of the text. (1990, 8)

The native reader is (sometimes subconsciously) aware of the cultural significance of the form of the source-text, but lacks such an acquaintance and consciousness. This situation necessitates the transfiguring of the form of the source-text. A translator should have an “analyzable understanding” (Steiner 1975, 277) to formulate certain approaches to render the source-text for a new cultural readership. The resultant work is certainly a restating of the original work. As Susan Bassnett and Andre Lefevere assert: “Translation is, of course, a rewriting of the original text” (1990, ix). The translator has to manipulate the discourse of the source-text by aesthetically distorting the inner-dialogism of the utterances and by making them appear new for the target readers. The discussion above theoretically formulates that it is possible to view translation as a kind of indirect discourse in Voloshinov’s sense. A translator “hears” the message of the source-text differently. Elements like style, choice of words, intonation etc. are analysed and their specific functions and operations are understood by the translator. Then, these features are explicated and interpreted, not by mechanically reproducing them, but by rewriting them for the target readers with the help of certain

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analytical techniques. At times, the form is transformed into the content in the translated text. Thus, in Voloshinov’s sense, if the source-text is seen as a direct discourse, then the translator’s rewriting is an indirect discourse. The translator, through his/her analytical intelligence and critical acumen, transforms the phonemic pattern and verbal accentuation of the source-text by interpreting and describing its semantic intensity in the target text.

“Indirectedness” at Work in Marathi Poetry and Hindi Prose A few examples from Indian literatures and their translations into English could be examined in this context. G. V. Karandikar, one of the major modernist Marathi poets, has translated many of his Marathi poems into English himself. His translated poems exemplify an analytical tendency that seeks to interpret and explicate them to English readers. Karandikar transforms his direct discourse by analysing and modifying it, and by presenting it in a new form to the target readers.6 Thus, the translated English utterances function as an indirect discourse of the original Marathi utterances. Let us consider an example here. The poem “Chakra” has been translated by Karandikar as “The Wheel” (both the original Marathi poem and its English translation can be found in Karandikar’s Poems of Vinda [1975, 100–1]). The poem throws light on the sense of alienation experienced by the persona who is puzzled at the cyclic monotony of routine life in the modern world. He (the speaker is revealed to be a male by the verb form in Marathi) is a part of such a bizarre humdrumness, and yet is not able to participate in its ludicrous trivialities. The poem presents an existential dilemma between participation and disengagement, between mechanistic tediousness and sordid aloofness, and on another plane between the mundane fixities of life and the spiritual disillusionment that haunt the modern world. Karandikar’s translation of the second stanza of the poem reads thus: My soul of flesh and blood puts a long thread in the needle’s eye. I stitch a patch on my son’s umbrella. I pick his nose and name the pickings, I call one “Elephant” and another “Lion.” Someone is about to come and doesn’t. Is about to turn on the stair, and doesn’t.


Chapter Three I tickle my children, they tickle me in turn; I laugh, With a will; for I do not feel tickled. It doesn’t matter. I scan their fingers for signs: Nine conches and one wheel. (1975, 101)

Karandikar’s English translation demonstrates three important transformations. Firstly, his translation seeks to explain what is directly stated in the original poem. For example, in the expression “puts a long thread in the needle’s eye,” the image of the eye which is implicit in the Marathi poem is made explicit. Again, in the utterances, “I stitch a patch on my son’s umbrella / I pick his nose and name the pickings” (italics mine), the expressions “a patch” on the umbrella and “name the pickings” are explanations in the translation that are suggestively expressed in the original Marathi poem. These additions, apart from interpreting the original utterances for the target readers, also exemplify the analytical mindset of the translator. Quite a few explanations of the type mentioned above can be observed throughout the translated poem. Thus, what is actually a sixteen-line poem in Marathi, neatly organised into two stanzas of eight lines each, is translated into English as a twenty-seven-line poem, divided into two stanzas of fifteen lines and twelve lines, respectively. The repeated use of enjambment as a figure of speech in translation can also be seen. Secondly, in his Marathi poem, Karandikar utilises ellipsis marks to suggest strains of anxiety and uncertainty. The fourth and the fifth lines of the second stanza show these marks. The lines from the English translation read thus: Someone is about to come and doesn’t. Is about to turn on the stair, and doesn’t.

It is noticeable that, in his translation, Karandikar does not use the ellipses. Rather, he conveys the anxiety of the Marathi utterances by translating them into crippled affirmative and negative statements. The erasure of ellipsis marks shows the analytical mindset of the translator who refuses to mechanically retain the form of the original utterance. The translator negotiates with the form by making the text/content more explanatory. Thirdly, we can observe Karandikar utilising quotation marks in his translation. In the fourth line of the stanza quoted above, words like “Elephant” and “Lion” appear in quotation marks, but which are absent in

“Indirect Discourse” of Voloshinov and Translatability


the original poem. In order to emphasise the animal imagery, Karandikar utilises quotation marks and the reader of the translated text is encouraged to ponder these words. We will return to a discussion of the quotation marks a little later. All three characteristics of Karandikar’s translation demonstrate attributes of Voloshinov’s indirect discourse. The source-text, which behaves as the direct discourse, is analysed and transformed before being rendered into the target language. Suggestively stated utterances and indirectly articulated expressions of the source-text/direct discourse are explained and modified, and are made to appear “different” in the target text/indirect discourse. At the same time, a personal element is added that ratifies the presence of the translator as an individual, independent of the author of the source-text. In another translation, Karandikar alters the form of his Marathi poem so as to make it more lucid for his English readers. He translates the title as “I Have a Strange Feeling” (both the poems can be found in his Some More Poems of Vinda [1983, 68–9]). The poem deals with a sense of estrangement in the speaker’s mind arising out of an existential insecurity. The sensitive mind of the speaker perceives a threat to his existence by imagining and hallucinating the operation of bewildering and mystifying powers. The Marathi poem is meticulously organised in the couplet form with a specific meter and rhyme scheme. The translation of the third and the fourth couplets reads as follows: Is it the sound of bangles? No, it can’t be that. That doesn’t belong to the room. It’s something passing in the street. Outside, a leaning banana tree, And a leaf that’s torn. Do I merely see its shadow Seated in the chair? (1983, 69)

The translation shows a transformation of the rhythmic couplet form into four-line stanzas of free verse, and also a compensation for the absence of rhythm and rhyme through the use of elaborated expressions that tend to clarify the subtleties of the original poem. Again, punctuation marks like ellipses are erased that demonstrate an exchange between form and content in the translation.


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A noticeable aspect in Karandikar’s translations is that there is certainly no generic change when the source-text is taken across to the English language. That is, his English translations retain their distinctiveness and identity as poems. However, they are certainly not poems in the sense in which his Marathi poems are—they are modified and rewritten for the readers of another culture, and their tones, textures, and contents are analysed and explicated so as to revitalise the theme in a lucid manner. Let us now shift our focus to the word within quotation marks, an important and effective device for a translator to maintain possession of and yet create a distance from the words of the author of the source-text. The word within quotation marks reserves its peculiarities and uniqueness by securing for itself special attention from the reader of the translated discourse. It comes across as something uncommon and strange. The quotation marks infuse the expression with an individual identity, and keep it aloof from the rest of the words/utterances. They also allow the translator to add critical and ironic undertones that show that the expression is retained from the direct discourse and the translator would like to maintain a distance. Let us consider the two translations of Saadat Hassan Manto’s famous Hindi short story “Toba Tek Singh” that demonstrate the significant role that quotation marks can play for a translator. The two different translations are by M. Asaduddin and Khalid Hasan. The story revolves around the insane protagonist Toba Tek Singh, who is unable to understand and negotiate with the reality of partition between India and Pakistan. He claims to belong to a place called Toba Tek Singh, and is confused as to whether it is included in Hindustan or Pakistan after partition. Since the state authorities of the two countries decide to exchange lunatics, the problem of locating Toba Tek Singh’s native place, which is not identifiable by the authorities on either side of the border, acquires grave proportions. The story ends with the death of Toba Tek Singh in no man’s land, between the borders of India and Pakistan. The story is an incisive commentary that juxtaposes the insanity of the harmless lunatics with the insanity of the state authorities who divide and exchange even the mentally deranged. In the course of the story, Manto provides the readers a peep into the psychological meanderings of the different mad people who are confronting the problem of partition. Two Anglo-Indian lunatics find themselves in a fix, since they are not sure whether the Indian or Pakistani authorities will treat them with due respect like the English did. They hold

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clandestine meetings among themselves to decide their future. They are engulfed by several questions. To quote from M. Asaduddin’s translation of a passage from the text: They would now spend hours in secret confabulation about their changed status in the asylum. Would the European Ward be there or done away with? Would they be served breakfast anymore? And, instead of Western style bread, would they be forced to swallow the “bloody Indian Chapatti?” (2001, 66)

It is noticeable that the expression “bloody Indian chapatti” is merely a transliteration of the words that appear in the Hindi text. But the translator chooses to put them in quotation marks as if to distance himself from the expression, and to emphasise that there is something peculiar about it. At least two reasons could be given for the strangeness of the expression. Firstly, the expression “Indian chapatti” lacks a semantic equivalent in English. Added to this complexity in finding a formal equivalent, the expression is qualified by the derogatory word “bloody,” exemplifying the animosity Anglo-American lunatics nursed for the Indian chapatti. Hence, the translator retains the whole expression but puts it in quotation marks. Secondly, Manto, in his Hindi text, adopts the English expression by merely transliterating it into Hindi. However, the translator into English has to bring it back to the English readers. That is, the English expression has to be translated back for the readers of the translated English text. Thus, the expression travels from the target language to the source language and then back again to the target language. This journey of the expression between the two languages demands special attention from the reader. The translator utilises quotation marks as a device to convey the strangeness and peculiarities of the expression. Khalid Hasan translates the passage as follows: They were worried about their changed status after independence. Would there be a European ward or would it be abolished? Would breakfast continue to be served or would they have to subsist on bloody Indian chapatti? (1997, 27)

Hasan’s translation renders the original by paying absolutely no attention to the strangeness of the expression “bloody Indian chapatti.” The journey of the expression across the source and target languages does not receive any special focus from the translator. Therefore, Hasan’s translation

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freezes the inner dialogicality of the expression and renders it monologically.7 As the story progresses, we come across a description of Toba Tek Singh. He would never sleep, but he used to lean against a wall for some time to rest. Asaduddin’s English translation reads as follows: The guards said that he had not slept a wink in the long period of fifteen years. He did not even care to lie down, though he would lean against a wall and take a “tek,” now and then. (2001, 66)

The word “tek” in Hindi is used to refer to a support to lean or rest against. Contextually, it is also utilised to suggest a nap. The writer deliberately and quite appropriately calls his protagonist Toba Tek Singh. It is clear from the context that “tek” is a word of the source language, which explains the plight of the protagonist. Implicitly, the quotation marks convey this strangeness. Hasan’s translation reads as follows: Guards said he had not slept a wink in fifteen years. Occasionally, he could be observed leaning against a wall, but the rest of the time, he was always to be found standing. Because of this, his legs were permanently swollen, something that did not appear to bother him. (1997, 28)

It is interesting to observe how Hasan’s translation erases the strangeness in the idiom. Asaduddin’s emphasis on the expression “tek” is absent in Hasan’s translation. This act not only curtails the significance of the name “Toba Tek Singh” but also reduces its inner dialogism. Sometimes, a translator may choose to translate a particular word/utterance rather than retaining the same word of the source-text, and also put it in quotation marks. In an earlier example from Karandikar’s translation, we noticed words in quotation marks like “elephant” and “lion,” which are translations of corresponding Marathi words. In the translation of Manto’s story, we can ascertain other such examples. Toba Tek Singh is oblivious of the passing of time, as he has been confined to the prison for over fifteen years. However, intuitively he would discern the dates on which his relatives or friends would visit him. Asaduddin’s translation:

“Indirect Discourse” of Voloshinov and Translatability


But every month, when it was time for his relatives and friends to come, he would somehow come to know of it. He would tell the guard that his “visit” was on its way. (2001, 67)

The word “meet” is closer in its semantic thrust to the original Hindi word. The translator deliberately chooses the word “visit” since it highlights a dignified delicacy. This word is then personified, and to emphasise the strangeness of the personification it is put in quotation marks. We should note that, for Toba Tek Singh, it is not the visitors who are important but the “visit,” and the “visits” stop coming after partition. The word carries with it an ironic indictment of the insanity of the society that marginalises lunatics and treats them as a liability. The quotation marks demonstrate the translator’s attempt to draw our attention to these characteristics of the word. Khalid Hasan’s translation has these lines: However, he had developed a sixth sense about the day of the visit, when he used to bathe himself, soap his body, oil and comb his hair and put on clean clothes. (1997, 28)

Hasan’s translation does not make a reader pay special attention to the expression “visit.” The connotations of the term are thus reduced and the cultural markers are eroded. Thus, the examples discussed above bring to light the relevance of Voloshinov’s categories for translators. Both Karandikar and Asaduddin as translators can be seen as authors of indirect discourses who analyse the source-text and render it by highlighting its subtlety and sophistication. At times they exchange form with content, so that the elements of form are compensated in terms of explicative modifications in the content. The source-text is “another person’s speech” that has to be rendered not by mechanical reproduction, but by way of strict analysis of its stylistic skills and cultural significance. In Voloshinov’s sense, translators attempt to answer the problems posed by the source-text by reconstituting and repatterning it. This act also allows the translator to maintain a separate and independent identity that enables her/him to comment on the stylistic characteristics of the source-text.


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Notes 1

Katerina Clark and Michael Holquist hold the view that Bakhtin is the author of the disputed texts. In the chapter “Disputed Texts” of their book Mikhail Bakhtin (1984, 146–70), they write: “there is good reason to conclude that the disputed works were written by Bakhtin to the extent that he should be listed as the sole author, Medvedev and Voloshinov having played a largely editorial role in each instance. For one thing, nothing has established that Bakhtin could not have written the disputed texts and published them under their friends’ names. More important, many eyewitnesses have said that he was the author, as did both Bakhtin and his wife on private occasions” (1984, 147). 2 See Holquist’s article “The Politics of Representation” (1986, 165–87). According to Holquist, the Marxist concepts in Bakhtin’s theories appear merely to provide a seemingly Marxist fervour to his philosophy in Stalinist Russia. He had to change names and embrace ideas with Marxist overtones because of pressures and compulsions. In Holquist’s words, “if the Christian word has to take on Soviet flesh, it has to clothe itself in ideological disguise” (1986, 173). This understanding curtails the potential of Voloshinov’s ideas and underestimates their creative significance. 3 For an analysis of Voloshinov’s social and historical investigation of language, see the online article by John Parrington titled “In Perspective: Valentin Voloshinov,” 4 A parallel could be drawn here with Free Indirect Discourse in narrative texts of English. Monika Fludernik points out that: “Free Indirect Discourse (FID) can be defined as a mode of speech and thought representation which relies on syntactic, lexical, and pragmatic features. On the syntactic level, passages of FID are constituted by non-subordination and (if applicable) temporal shifting in accordance with the basic tense of the report frame” ( /php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=444). She also highlights the element of ambiguity in the mode of representation of thought in FID. Unless indicated through syntactic and lexical features, it is not possible to interpret the tone and temperament of an FID. 5 There have also been theorists who have argued that translation is not between two entities called source-language/text and target-language/text but within the same larger rubric called “language” or “text.” As Anthony Lewis writes: “What translation scholars who speak of ‘text’ fail to recognize is that the inordinate amount of attention paid to the systems in which texts exist is born of the structuralist construction of languages into hermetically sealed, normalized types” (2005, 23). 6 Interestingly, when Dilip Chitre translates Karandikar, the poem is rendered not in an elaborated manner, but in cryptic and terse expressions. Chitre does not take recourse to descriptive tendency. These aspects of Chitre’s and Karandikar’s translation are analysed and discussed in chapter four. 7 An interesting question here would be about what would have happened had the expression “bloody Indian chapatti” been italicised and not rendered with the help of quotation marks. In both the cases, the expression would receive extra attention

“Indirect Discourse” of Voloshinov and Translatability


from the reader. However, quotation marks help to retain the otherness of the expression by not making it a part of the speaker’s vocabulary and intentions. In the context of quotation marks, the expression in question would help the reader to identify it as a borrowed expression or loan utterance and hence a sarcastic tone is added to its inner dialogicality. Merely italicising the expression would highlight some strangeness without exemplifying the same to the reader. Quotation marks assert the strangeness of the utterance/word in a more emphatic manner than italics.


What is a Polyphonic Text? The Bakhtinian Ambivalence The concept of “polyphony” is one of the most debated ideas of Bakhtinian philosophy. The varied interpretations and the polemical inquiries that have come up around the notion of polyphony are partly due to Bakhtin’s disorganised and inadequate explanation and partly to an extension of the implications of the term. As Bakhtin himself writes, polyphony, “has more than anything else given rise to objections and misunderstandings” (in Morson and Emerson 2001, 230). Polyphony is usually interpreted as “multi-voicedness” in a novel where none of the voices dominate, including the authorial and the narrative voice. This understanding of polyphony as equal voices is partially correct, since it does not provide us with a fuller picture of the concept. It is therefore advisable to undertake a critical investigation of “polyphony” before proceeding to the polyphonies of lyric poetry and their translations. In his book Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics (1963), Bakhtin outlines the characteristics of a polyphonic novel without explicitly defining what he exactly means by polyphony. For Bakhtin, Dostoevsky’s novels are not monologic renderings, but are artistic creations that present a “worldview.” The characters of Dostoevsky are consciousnesses presenting “points of views” about the world around them, which Bakhtin terms as “voices.” As he writes: The essence of polyphony lies precisely in the fact that the voices remain independent and, as such, are combined in a unity of a higher order than in homophony. If one is to talk about individual will, then it is precisely in polyphony that a combination of several individual wills takes place, that the boundaries of the individual will can be in principle exceeded. One could put it this way, the artistic will of polyphony is a will to combine many wills, a will to the event. (1984, 21)

Translating Polyphonies of Lyric Poetry


Apart from “a combination of several individual wills,” polyphony also helps us realise a “dialogic sense of truth,” that is, an “artistic capacity for seeing everything in coexistence and interaction” (1984, 30). Bakhtin emphasises an anti-systemic conception of truth, which is non-monologic and pluralistic. The Hegelian understanding of dialectical opposition that would result in the realisation of the absolute spirit is unacceptable to Bakhtin.1 This understanding not only renders philosophical inquiry monologic, but also leads to “abstract theoretism.” As against the dialectical evolution of spirit, his concern was with a dialogical interanimation of the “multi-leveledness of reality.” Since Dostoevsky was the first creative artist to present a non-monologic conception of the world, Bakhtin calls him the inventor of polyphony.2 However, Bakhtin admits that polyphony is a quality of any artistic creation that exhibits the characteristics of a “novelized discourse.” As Morson and Emerson write: “Bakhtin clearly states that Dostoevsky invented polyphony, but that it is not limited to his works. Polyphony has been used subsequently—he does not tell us precisely where—and it could be and should be used in many more ways” (2001, 231). Over the decades, Bakhtin scholars have occupied themselves with the task of extending dialogical principles to certain domains of thoughts untouched by Bakhtin. Since the notion of “voice” is central not merely to a narrative text but also to genres like poetry and drama, an artistic composition that exemplifies the prevalence of “voice” and a confabulation among many voices in a text could be seen as demonstrating Bakhtinian “polyphony.”3 Scholars and critics have successfully demonstrated a peculiar blend of “many wills” in confessional poetry as well as dramatic monologues that makes them a “novelized discourse.” While critics like Michael Macovski, Don Bialostosky, and Lynne Pearce have investigated the polyphony of certain lyric poetry as novelized discourse, Robert Stam and Sue Vice have examined the implications of Bakhtinian polyphony for film theories. As Pearce explains, the term “novelized discourse” refers to “any text which represents more than one voice, opinion or center of consciousness: and … allows each of these voices a certain autonomy and independence from authorial or narratorial control” (1994, 200). However, as all texts are always in dialogue with some “other,” their polyphonic appeal depends on the range of the possibilities of dialogicality created by the author.4


Chapter Four

Differing Polyphonies in Multiple Translations: An Analysis of Three Lyrical Texts Let us now turn towards the poetry of Indian regional languages. Since the 1950s, the regional poetry of India has treated themes as diverse as the articulation of a fractured self, conflictual human relationships, the modernisation and urbanisation of contemporary society, and the emergence of a distinct national culture. Due to the influence of the Western traditions of poetry on the one hand, and an urge to express an Indian sensibility on the other, these poems reverberate with many voices with varying degrees of inner-dialogicality. The translation of these poems into English acquires significance because English serves as a “link cultural language” that makes the vital plurality of the regional linguistic and cultural heritage available to the Indian as well as Western reader (King 1987, 6). The problems are more complicated in the case of translations of the lyric because, apart from retaining the confessional mode, the translator has to accommodate the seemingly merged but irreconcilable voices of the source-poem.5 Different translators, in a variety of ways, have addressed the problems of translating poetry. In certain cases, each approach is a unique polyphony in itself that differs from the translation of the same poem by another translator. Let us now proceed to analyse the polyphonies of Kannada, Marathi, and Hindi poems, and the transformations in their polyphonic appeal in their two translations.

The Kannada Poem “Bhoota” by Gopala Krishna Adiga Gopala Krishna Adiga (1918–1992), one of the major voices of Navya Kannada poetry, represents the modernist movement of Kannada literature in its attempt to create a distinct identity by disengaging from romantic fervour. He provides us with the link between the earlier Navodaya movement and the Navya movement, which he embraced later in his poetic career.6 Thus, his poetry is an arena for the contestations of voices of two generations of poetry. This conflictual condition of his poetry exerted a potent influence on future poets, so much so that, in the words of M. G. Krishnamurthi, “while speaking of recent Kannada poets we cannot, with any justification, speak of the ‘sons of Adiga’. Our poets who have felt the impact of Adiga have had to chart their own course, mould their own idiom, in short become poets in their own right” (1968, 3).

Translating Polyphonies of Lyric Poetry


Adiga’s poetry is a major challenge to the translators because the modern sensibility and the new idiom that characterises his poetry cannot be rendered in a different language without transforming its polyphonic appeal. Especially while translating Adiga into English, the problems are more profound and compounded because the “alien language” needs to be nativised to render a native modern experience. Over the years, translators have come up with different English translations of Adiga, each of which is an individual effort to answer the problems posed by the innerdialogicity of his poetry. An interesting example comprises the two different translations of Adiga’s poem “Bhoota”—the first by A. K. Ramanujan and M. G. Krishnamurthi as “Ghosts and Pasts” (1968), and the second by S. Sumatheendra Nadig as “Past” (1983). The poem “Bhoota” first made its appearance in Adiga’s Bhumigita (1959), a collection of poems that has been described by M. G. Krishnamurthi as, “the most impressive and adult poems in a single collection the like of which no Kannada poet of this century has given us so far” (1968, 5). Though this claim is disputable, the poem “Bhoota” is of much critical importance (the difficulty involved in translating the title “Bhoota” is discussed in chapter two). The poem presents a battle between the irreconcilable voices of the past, the present, and the future. By invoking the image of haunting ghosts, the poet presents a criss-crossed dialogue between the three temporal categories. This dialogical triangulation operates on two different planes. Firstly, at a mundane level the poem is about the natural processes like birth, maturity, and death. Secondly, on a higher metaphysical plane, the poem presents a dialogic confabulation between reality, existence, and illusion, since the central image of a ghost that haunts dissolves the distinction between actuality and illusion. Apart from the central image of the ghost, the poet employs three supplementary images in the form of an embryo, water, and gold. These three images are instrumental in enriching the inter-animation of voices as they create an ambience for an irreconcilable battle. While the embryo is an organic image, water belongs to the physical realm and gold signifies material reality. It is noticeable that while the embryo is directed towards a promising future, water along with ice and vapour, implies a flux between the present, the past, and the future. Gold, on the other hand, being already in a purified condition, has only a past, which implies its earlier impure state as ore.


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The poem “Bhoota” satisfies both the Bakhtinian conditions necessary for a work to be polyphonic. In the first place, there is a dialogic sense of truth, which could be ascertained from the subtle dialogue the poem presents between the mundane and the metaphysical realms of human existence. These are two different consciousnesses or “wills” that together constitute a “unity of a higher order.” Secondly, the image of the ghost, along with the embryo, water, and gold, is imbued with the voices of the past, present, and future. We can observe here that though one of the meanings of the title “Bhoota” is the past, the voice of the past is not the dominant one, but one among the two other voices that create a conflictual condition. Though the poem ends with a hope for prosperity, the poet is also deeply suspicious whether such a prosperous future is attainable. This suspicion towards the end makes the poem “open-ended” and “unfinalizable” in the Bakhtinian sense. Let us now turn to the two translations of the poem. Since the translators are translating the poem into English, in both the cases the problems of translation are the same. Interestingly, both A. K. Ramanujan (AKR) and M. G. Krishnamurthi (MGK), and Sumatheendra Nadig, in their translations make serious efforts to retain the polyphonic appeal of the original, but in ways that are markedly different. The operation of voices varies in the two translations that provide different versions of Adiga to the readers. This aspect can be ascertained when we look into certain examples from the original Kannada and the two translations in English (for the original Kannada poem and the two translations see Appendix I). The first line of Adiga’s poem is translated in different ways. In AKR and MGK’s translation, the first line is: Secret embryos of the demon-past haunt. (Adiga 1968, 16)

Nadig translates the same line as: They haunt me, the secret foetuses of the past. (Adiga 1983, 21)

A shift in tone is noticeable here. In AKR and MGK’s translation the image of “secret embryos” is emphasised. The word “demon-past” shows the translators’ attempt to retain the semantic significance of the original Kannada word “Bhoota.” However, in Nadig’s translation the haunting of “foetuses” and the sense of agitation arising out of such a haunting becomes the prominent strain. The persona is rendered to be more apprehensive and anxious about the haunting foetuses. This gives rise to a

Translating Polyphonies of Lyric Poetry


different kind of intermingling of voices in the two translations, which can also be observed in the next four lines. AKR and MGK: In the stale air of the dark in the old buried well They crawl upside down on all fours And leap on the back of the shaft of sun which sings lullabies And go beyond into the garden of the basil bush.

Nadig: The stale air of the sunken old well rises on all fours crawling upside down entwining the sunbeam that sings a lullaby and charges towards the basil bush.

In the original poem, Adiga shifts his subject or active agent from “secret embryos” to “the stale air” in the second line of the first stanza. The “stale air” is personified and used as a metaphor for the “secret embryos.” Interestingly, while Nadig’s translation presents this shift in subject positions, AKR and MGK’s translation retains “secret embryos” as the active agent that “crawl upside down” in the “stale air” of the “old buried well.” The shift in the subject position certainly acquires significance. The identity of the ghost and the part is fixed with the “secret embryos.” This fixed subject provides the leeway for the translators to engage with a descriptive rendering of the original poem. The “secret embryos” “leap on the back of the shaft of sun which sings lullabies/ and go beyond into the garden of the basil bush.” The attempt of the translations here is to propel an innocent urge associated with childhood. Phrases and words like “the shaft of the sun,” “the garden of the basil bush,” and “lullabies” signify a strain that could be associated with innocence and childhood. However, in Nadig’s translation, since “the stale air” is the subject, the strain for the innocent is absent. Unlike AKR and MGK’s translation, evocative descriptions do not appear, and in their place, sterile and fragmented lines can be seen. Here, “the stale air” is “entwining the sunbeam” “and charges towards the basil bush.” The sunbeam sings only one “lullaby,” accounting for the moroseness that pervades the ambience. Mysteriously, the “garden” that appears in the original poem and also in AKR and MGK’s translation is absent in Nadig’s translation.

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Similarly, in the second stanza, we can observe that the two translations vary in their dialogic appeal. Here, Adiga is preoccupied with the haunting sense of the past in the daily newspapers. The central idea is the complete dissolution of the present in the past, so much so that, even when the newspapers are closed, the haunting ghosts of the past shuttle across the empty rooms. The two translations tackle this movement of ghosts in two different ways. AKR and MGK: Fold up the papers if you will In soundless skeleton rooms A carnival of reversed feet, dumb beckonings hummed without any beat.

Nadig: Though the papers are closed Noiseless empty skeletons gather in the room With cleft feet groan, making dumb signs.

AKR and MGK’s translation shows the same descriptive characteristics. The emphasis is more on retaining the rhythmic quality of Adiga’s original poem. At times, their translation exhibits creative and imaginative streaks noticeable in phrases like “a carnival of reversed feet” and “dumb beckonings hummed without any beat.” However, in Nadig’s translation rhythm and imagination are not the major concerns. Instead of music, there is a “groan,” and in the place of hummed “beckonings” there are indecipherable “dumb signs.” Another noticeable aspect is, while AKR and MGK are concerned with “soundless skeleton rooms” where “you” hear a “carnival of reversed feet,” Nadig makes “noiseless empty skeletons gather in the room.” The past is again personified this time as “skeletons” “with cleft feet.” Certainly, the imagery is more frightening in Nadig’s translation. We can observe that Adiga, in his original poem, does not make the skeletons gather in the room. Here, the poet is content with “empty skeleton rooms,” and AKR and MGK render it almost literally. But Nadig provides a version of Adiga where a high modernist voice is infused with the translated text. At times, this voice borders on postmodernist selfreflexivity. The following line makes this apparent:

Translating Polyphonies of Lyric Poetry


AKR and MGK: Stagnant in waters standing in the depths.

Nadig: In the standing waters of the sky.

In AKR and MGK’s rendering, we can find a reference to the inner-mind since they use the word “depths.” However, Nadig allows water to move out of the depths and stand in the sky. A problematisation of the depth/surface dichotomy and a destabilisation of what is inner and hidden is noticeable in Nadig’s version. This strain which seeks to problematise dichotomies becomes more evident in the third stanza where ancestors are presented as ghosts wandering to find a suitable place for rebirth. AKR and MGK: Fathers and their fathers wander without water and roof Hanging on to the shuttles of the wind they touch land But cannot have it I know the ritual for exorcism and libation, but I have forgotten the magic words I just play at waving the wand.

Nadig: Shelterless forefathers wander in the wind without knowing where they can incarnate. I know the chants to drive away the ghosts but I forgot the chants which could make them gods. In vain I wave the magic wand.

In the first translation, the poet is content with the rituals “for exorcism and libation.” The emphasis here is on liberation and not on the reincarnation of “fathers and their fathers.” In the second, “forefathers” are shown to possess a desire for reincarnation. More importantly, the poet has forgotten “the chants which could make them gods.” In the original poem, Adiga does not express a desire to convert ghosts into gods, nor does it happen in AKR and MGK’s translation. This desire in Nadig’s translation of Adiga acquires significance because it questions and problematises the rigid distinction between ghosts and gods.

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Another striking dissimilarity concerns the presence of poetic appeal. While AKR and MGK are particular about providing a poetic rendering of Adiga, Nadig is keen on a prosaic translation.7 This aspect is brought to light by the following lines. AKR and MGK: Water rots in the well; steam rises from it All along the sky runs its street

Nadig: The decaying water inside the well, goes up as vapour; The sky becomes its field of action.

The image of the sky becoming a street for the steam to rise upwards, which AKR and MGK render with care, is absent in Nadig’s translation. Words like “goes up,” “becomes,” and “field of action” are bereft of the tenderness and sensitivity that can be seen in the former. Nadig’s version conveys a rough tolerant ambience. The same strains can also be observed in the following lines. AKR and MGK: The labouring earth is robed in ploughed and seeded fields. Gardens of swinging fruit, ears of paddy and wheat, And the golden tops of temples and towers.

Nadig: Prepare the fields for paddy and grain Turn them into beautiful gardens Temple towers will have golden peaks.

AKR and MGK celebrate the hope for prosperity in the future by providing a romantic description of earth’s future greenery. Phrases like “gardens of swinging fruit” and “ears of paddy and wheat” are evidence for their romantic rendering. On the other hand, there is an undercurrent of laughter in Nadig’s translation that mocks the futility of the whole exercise of preparing the fields for ploughing seeds. This mockery is the voice of the translator since the original poem does not demonstrate any parody. Nadig’s Adiga demolishes any hope through a dialogical self-reflexivity of the present.

Translating Polyphonies of Lyric Poetry


The analysis above brings to light certain curious developments. As stated earlier, the two varied interpretations of Adiga alter the conglomeration of voices of the original poem. It is interesting to observe that a judicious amalgamation of the romantic and the modernist strains that characterise Adiga’s original Kannada poem finds a separate and individual attention under the two translators. By highlighting innocence, imagination, rhythm, and a fixed subject position, the translation of A. K. Ramanujan and M. G. Krishnamurthi provides a version where the dialogical confabulation of voices inclines towards a romantic rendering of Adiga. (Here, by romantic rendering, we mean an emphasis on imagination, fantasy, rhyme, and melody as observed in the poetry of English Romantic poets from Wordsworth to Byron. By Modernist rendering, we mean a rendering that highlights Eliotesque imagery.) However, this is not a blind “romanticisation,” since the translators retain the modernist sensibility as well. The intertwinement of both the modernist and the romantic strains is apparent in phrases like “a carnival of reversed feet,” “dumb beckonings hummed without any beat,” and “the labouring earth is robed in ploughed and seeded fields.” Thus, Adiga’s original poem is metamorphosed into a romantic-modernist polyphony by the translators. On the other hand, Nadig’s concern is with the squalor and miasma of the modern world. The meanderings of the past, the impotence of the present, and sarcasm towards a utopian future acquire significance in his rendering. The syntactic melody of the original Kannada poem is deliberately rendered in atonal and prosaic language. Short and crippled sentences are utilised to convey silences and breakages. This aspect is apparent in the following lines: The unseen drop In the dark womb of the clouds Is like the foetus form that waits for nine months.

Though it cannot be denied that there is a semantic loss when Adiga is translated in such fragmented sentences, there is also an infusion of new voices. An increased emphasis on the inner-dialogicity of the poem, which makes it more intertwined and reflexive, is noticeable in Nadig’s translation. Hence, in Nadig’s translation, the polyphony of the original Kannada poem is transformed into a starkly modernist polyphony that borders on certain postmodernist traits.


Chapter Four

The Marathi Poem “Daata Paasun Daata Kade” by G. V. Karandikar Let us now shift the focus to the modernist poetry in Marathi. G. V. Karandikar, one of the major modernist Marathi poets, is of particular interest for two important reasons.8 Firstly, he is a contemporary of Adiga, and their poetry shares certain common modernist themes. Secondly, over the decades, his poetry has been translated into English by many translators, among whom are Dilip Chitre and Karandikar himself. From a Bakhtinian standpoint, his poetry and the two translations provide us with examples to understand the differing dialogical inter-animation of voices. Karandikar’s poetry is characterised by an austere sense of squalid emptiness that pervades modern life. Apart from exhibiting an imaginative awareness of this emptiness, his poetry is a severe criticism of the exploitation of the masses by the material masters. Drawing his inspiration not merely from the contemporary life but also from Western poets like T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden and more importantly G. M. Hopkins, Karandikar’s poetry is marked by what he calls an “open view of poetry.” As he explains: An open view of poetry believes in the possibility, the usefulness and the authentic significance of many kinds of moods, many kinds of forms and many kinds of styles. It does not equate “purity” with certain states of emotions, “sincerity” with self-centered consistency, or “beauty” with particular attributes of form. It doesn’t belittle traditional forms and modes in its enthusiasm for experiments or dub normal moods and attributes as essentially non-poetic. It admits ugliness, dirt and vulgarity and refuses to worship them as new deities. As a result, it includes a wider variety of experiences and a greater range of techniques. (1975, 9)

This “open view,” which encompasses a variety of experiences and styles, has been instrumental in enriching the polyphonic appeal of his poetry. The interplay of dialogic voices that spring from the modernist tension can be seen in his poem “Daatapaasun daata kade” (1962), which has been translated by Dilip Chitre as “You and I Run” (1966), and by Karandikar himself as “From Teeth to Teeth” (1983). The poem depicts the impotence of the present, where human beings are left disgruntled and hopeless. History has played havoc and people are forced to run from pillar to post. The monuments of the past are represented by the metaphor “teeth,” and in order to escape their carnivorous impact “you and I” should run, for that is

Translating Polyphonies of Lyric Poetry


the only option available (for the original Marathi poem and the two translations see Appendix II). The poem is a bitter commentary on the exploitations carried out by kings in the past. At the same time, it brings to light the nothingness and futility of human existence in the present. The poem exhibits a blend of Marxist and existentialist voices and allows a dialogic interrogation of the brutal and treacherous past by the crippled and mutilated present. Thus, like Adiga’s Kannada poem we observe an oscillation between the past and the present. Apart from this interrogation, the poem presents a dialogic conversation between “You,” “I,” and an unknown and invisible “He.” There is neither an agreement nor a disagreement between the three voices, and the poet leaves the dialogue unresolved. The three places, Egypt, China, and India, with their histories of exploitation and stories of flourishing civilizations, add to the “tension-filled-environment” of voices. It is evident that the poem satisfies the necessary requirements to be considered polyphonic in the Bakhtinian sense. We shall now focus our attention on the two translations of the poem by Dilip Chitre and G. V. Karandikar. As we observed in the case of Adiga’s translations, we can recognise a prioritisation of certain voices and infusion of new voices by the translators. The title of the poem in the original and the two different titles in the two translations are significant, since they provide interesting starting points to understand the different assemblage of voices. The original title is translated as “From Teeth to Teeth” by Karandikar, whereas Chitre translates the first line as “You and I Run” and makes it the title. As stated earlier, the image of teeth is used as a metaphor to refer to historical monuments. While Karandikar’s translation emphasises this image by presenting it in the title, Chitre’s concern is with the victims of the exploitations carried out in the past. “You and I” not only refers to the characters in the poem, but it also refers to the reader and the poet, who are cursed to lead meaningless lives in the present. Another noticeable aspect is the plural “teeth” in Karandikar’s translation and the singular “tooth” in Chitre’s rendering. Chitre centralises the oppressive forces in the image of “tooth.” This image is significant from a Bakhtinian standpoint because Chitre confines the tyrannical agents of the past to a single identity. By reducing any scope for dialogicity and plurality among the exploitative powers, Chitre’s translation criticises the monologism of the whole exercise of human exploitation. In Karandikar’s translation, a literal rendering of the Marathi title can be seen. His concern

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is with the imagery and the syntax of the original poem. He uses the auxiliary “can” and the adverb “only” to retain the sense of helplessness his Marathi poem presents. The same strain can be seen in the following lines: Chitre’s translation: Slaughtered bodies behind me: Mute corpses behind you: You and I Run From tooth to tooth. (1967, 90)

Karandikar’s translation: Dumb trunks behind you: Dumb trunks behind me. You and I can run Only from teeth to teeth. (1983, 48)

We notice Chitre utilising the translator’s freedom and creativity to convey the wretchedness of modern life. Neither the phrase “slaughtered bodies” nor the expression “mute corpses” is the linguistic equivalent of the expression utilised in Marathi, though they articulate the bane of the chequered human existence in a profound manner. On the other hand, Karandikar’s word is “dumb trunks,” which he repeats twice to mirror its repetition in the original poem. The expression “dumb trunks” is a literal translation with an alliterative element. Karandikar’s emphasis on rhythmic qualities and his attachment to the original Marathi poem are apparent. These variations are more explicit in the second stanza. Chitre: On the great wall of China Each mound bears a ghost; Even the stone is leprous With unjust suffering.

Karandikar: On the great wall of China

Translating Polyphonies of Lyric Poetry


Each rampart has a ghost; Even the stones are covered With the mange of suffering.

The central idea in the lines above involves a criticism of the destruction carried out by the imperial monarchs of China under the guise of protection. Both the translations effectively bring out this criticism with certain changes. Chitre provides an interpretation where the Great Wall of China is in reality a conglomeration of mounds where “each mound bears a ghost.” By using the word “mound” he disrobes history of its pomp and pageantry and likens it to the habitats of ghosts. He imparts a human touch to the stone in the line “Even the stone is leprous.” Karandikar’s translation shows a serious effort to preserve the artistic intensity and semantic elegance of the original. There are no mounds here, but “each rampart has a ghost.” The stones of the ramparts are not leprous, but “are covered with the mange of suffering.” As mange is an animal disease, the human element is conspicuous by its absence. In order to vividly bring out the sense of disparagement that runs through the original poem, Chitre polishes Karandikar’s modernist sensibility and infuses new voices. The following lines from Chitre’s translation show the polished strain of the translator. Chitre: He said, “Who is supposed to suck The cream on civilizations’ lips?” …….. …….. In the black waters of Yamuna Is Kaliya’s raised hood: You said, “A monolithic rose is blooming Upon this monument of love.”

A Freudian echo can be heard in these lines. Chitre infuses a new translator’s voice by providing a psychological dimension to the Marxist and existentialist perspectives of Karandikar’s Marathi poem. Apart from contributing to the dialogical improvisation of voices, this addition intensifies Karandikar’s pungent criticism of tyranny and oppression. In Karandikar’s translation, the psychological strain is absent. In its place, we

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observe a contemplative anxiety presented with alliterative and rhythmic beats. Karandikar: He said: “For whom does it exist, this cream of culture?” What happens has happened; The chronicle has cracked. You and I can run Only from teeth to teeth.

The critical analysis of the two translations highlights certain significant characteristics. Like Adiga’s translations, we notice two versions of Karandikar in English. Chitre translates Karandikar into a stark modernism. By utilising the translator’s freedom, he infuses new voices and intensifies the imagery of the original poem. Like Nadig’s translation of Adiga, Chitre’s translation of Karandikar is prosaic and bereft of tonal elements. It is not a word-for-word rendering which becomes important for Nadig and Chitre, but an articulation of the modern experience through unembellished and blunt language. At times, Nadig and Chitre deviate to mock the definite and fixed meaning of the original text. They transform the original poems into more blatant polyphonies that criticise the realities of the contemporary times. On the other hand, Karandikar’s translation of his original Marathi poem shares certain concerns with AKR and MGK’s translation of Adiga. Karandikar is attentive to the rhythm and rhyme of the original poem and makes a laudable effort to retain it in his translation. Like AKR and MGK, he is concerned with the task of preserving the pattern and the design of the Marathi poem. His attachment to the poetic qualities of the original (that is, rhyme and rhythm) is more intense and profound; so much so that the modernist sensibility of the original acquires a refined delicacy in his translation bordering on a romantic inventiveness. As Karandikar writes in his essay “How Spontaneous is Spontaneity?”: I think that the organic law of normal poetic development involves a progression from the romantic, through the classical, to the realistic with implicit dialectical tensions, although deviations from this norm are not unknown to literary history. (1983, ix)

Translating Polyphonies of Lyric Poetry


As he retains a romantic fervour amidst the modernist tension, this “organic law” is true of Karandikar’s own poetry. The critical analysis of his translation above explicitly brings out this dialogical blend of the modernist dilemmas and the romantic imagination.

The Hindi Poem “Shoonya” by Gajaanan Madhav Muktibodh Gajaanan Madhav Muktibodh (1917–64) is an important exponent of Modernist poetry in Hindi. In terms of both style and ideology, Muktibodh had something new to offer to the tradition of poetry writing during his times. His poetry was not only a reaction to the earlier Chaayaavaadi school (a Romantic movement in Hindi Literature consisting of stalwarts like Sumitranandan Pant, “Niraala,” Mahadevi Varma, and Jayashankar Prasad), but it also introduced the modernist idiom into Hindi poetry by asserting the separateness of the individual from the crowd and by advocating individual identity against the dominance of collective rationality.9 For Muktibodh, a search for the human identity crushed and trampled down by the atrocities of the times acquires significance. An endless quest for the lost history of the downtrodden and an urge to reconstruct and recapture the lost spirit of a generation become the prime concerns in his poetry. In the words of E. V. Ramakrishnan: “Muktibodh lets his art be modified by the flux of life, and thereby engages the history of his times into a dialogue with his inner contradictions” (1995, 31).10 Muktibodh’s poem “Shoonya,” which appears in his collection Chaand ka Muh Tedha Hai (1964), is a poignant description of the sterile emptiness arising out of a frenzied desperation within the human soul. This emptiness, which is the result of and a reaction to the degeneration of values in the modernist period, is not merely a condition within but also a macabre dance without; that is, it is not merely an internal voidness that becomes important, but also the voidness outside in the society and culture at large. The poem plays on this emptiness and uses it as a metaphor to refer to the disillusionment that plagues an entire civilization. The title “Shoonya” is significant for two reasons: firstly, it captures the central motif of the poem—voidness, being the tone and tenor of the modernist times. Secondly, it also acts as a metaphor in the figurative sense; that is, the vicious maze of life is cyclic and is therefore like a zero, or “shoonya.” We begin with a hope for regeneration and fertility, but result in the same spot of despondency and hopelessness. The poem


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laments this vicious cycle by utilising “carnivorous” imagery, and in an ironic manner it celebrates the fertility and the durability of this voidness. It mocks the widespread design and motif of this vacuum, and perversely cripples and mutilates human actions and progress. Like Karandikar’s poem “Daatapaasun Daatakade,” here too we can observe Marxist and existentialist voices. Muktibodh is known for Marxist themes in his poetry. In the present poem, the exploitation of human beings for the mass aggrandisement of wealth is a prime concern and the chief cause for the voidness. At the same time, it is possible to identify a parallel existentialist strain that is artistically juxtaposed with the Marxist strain. Throughout history, this exploitation has contributed to a sterile emptiness; and in the modernist times, this emptiness has become the soul of human existence. In other words, being is voidness and, at times, being is preceded by voidness. The poem subverts the classical premise that believes that essence precedes existence. The telos or the purpose of existence is lost in this voidness. Thus, the essence of human existence (if we can think of such an essence at all) is voidness. Thus, the Marxist and existentialist voices operate hand in hand. Again, the operation of these strains is not confined to the internal realms of the human mind, but they operate at two levels. While on a mundane plane they demonstrate the degeneration of values and dogmas in a society, on a higher metaphysical plane they refer to the spiritual nullity and desperation of a generation that is trapped in this voidness. The poem is a “tension-filled environment” in the Bakhtinian sense. It is the space for a dialogic force to operate and examine itself with respect to the nullity outside. Death and birth are treated as products of this sterile emptiness. The processes of regeneration and degeneration do not occur in an auspicious climate; rather, they take place in the presence of saws, teeth, sickles, daggers, etc. The picture of death and degeneration looms large, and death and degeneration masquerade as fertility and productivity. Death is productive because it breeds death in every nook and corner. Like Adiga’s “Bhoota,” something haunts the reader throughout the poem, the shadow of which can be traced in the encompassing voidness. And like Karandikar’s “Daatapaasun Daatakade,” it is a helpless run from pillar to post to escape the hazardous consequences of voidness. The carnivorous teeth are all set to devour, and the only option is to melt and dissolve in this emptiness. The end of life lies in destroying oneself so that one does not breed mutilated corpses.

Translating Polyphonies of Lyric Poetry


The poem reverberates with dialogic voices that produce a conflictual condition, a flux of themes and motifs. It presents us with multiple points of view about the world and human existence. It demonstrates the prevalence of a dialogical quadrangle between the deplorable plight of the individual human self, the collective social self, the mundane trivialities of everyday existence, and metaphysical spiritual disillusionment. The poem is stratified by semantic layers that attempt to capture the ontological reality of human dilemma by crystallizing its “eventness.” Thus, Muktibodh’s poem demonstrates a “prosaic vision” that makes it polyphonic and presents us with a pluralistic sense of truth. Let us now proceed to examine the two translations of the poem into English by Vinay Dharwadker as “The Void” (1994), and by Krishna Baldev Vaid as “The Void Within” (1998). The two titles are significant as they provide us with certain clues to understanding the varied assemblage of voices. While in Baldev Vaid’s translation the voidness “within” acquires significance, in Dharwadker’s the larger emptiness in the real world outside is emphasised. Let us examine the first few lines from the two translations. Baldev Vaid translates the first seven lines thus: The void within has jaws full of fangs that will devour them and you. The angry void within is our habit our nature. (1998, 44)

Dharwadker’s translation renders the first seven lines of the source-text thus: The void inside us has jaws, those jaws have carnivorous teeth; those teeth will chew you up, those teeth will chew up everyone else. The dearth inside is our nature, habitually angry. (1994, 29)

We can observe the use of the word “fangs” by Baldev Vaid and “carnivorous teeth” by Dharwadker. The word “fang” usually refers to the

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teeth of a snake that is poisonous and destructive. In the phrase “fangs that will devour them and you,” an urge to convey the poisonous nature and demonic hunger of “the void within” can be seen. However, in the case of Dharwadker’s translation we observe “carnivorous teeth” that “will chew you up” and “will chew up everyone else.” The imagery is more jarring and disturbing since it symbolically refers to the processes of grinding and pulverising human existence in the modern world. Also, the phrase “chew up everyone else” demonstrates a motif to purge every living being from the surface of the earth, not just humans. Thus, the scope of voidness is enlarged and widened by Dharwadker as compared with the “void within” in Baldev Vaid’s rendering. To quote lines from Baldev Vaid’s translation: The void within is pitch black hollow and mean only about its own self keen. I try to diffuse and distribute it in agitated actions and words. (1998, 44)

Dharwadker’s translation: This void is utterly black, is barbaric, is naked, disowned, debased, completely self absorbed. I scatter it, give it away, with fiery words and deeds. (1994, 29)

Baldev Vaid’s translation is more poetic because of his emphasis on rhythm and rhyme. Poetic utterances like “hollow and mean/… its own self keen” have an appeal to the ear. However, Dharwadker’s translation is prosaic where an urge to capture the modernist idiom of the original becomes important. As against Baldev Vaid’s rendering of voidness which is “hollow and mean,” Dharwadker’s “void” is “barbaric,” “naked,” “debased,” and “disowned.” There are no “agitated actions” here but “fiery words and deeds.” While Baldev Vaid’s rendering demonstrates acts of diffusing and distributing the voidness, Dharwadker’s translation

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demonstrates a scattering of the voidness, a disorderly and wild act. One can observe alliteration in both translations. This voidness is fertile and produces new generation of voidness. Whoever meets this voidness becomes a part of its diabolic nature and spreads its intentions everywhere. The two translations render this aspect of the voidness in two different manners. While in Baldev Vaid’s translation they “nurse and enhance it/ increasing its progeny,” in Dharwadker’s translation the phrase used is “raising the children of emptiness.” The word “emptiness” acquires significance in the context it appears in since it highlights the existentialist dimension of the original text. “Emptiness” is symbolic of “nothingness,” and the new generation plagued by this “emptiness” comprises merely puppets in the hands of the encompassing voidness. Unlike Baldev Vaid’s repetition of the phrase “the void within,” Dharwadker’s translation utilises different words to convey this “Void.” Words like “dearth” and “emptiness” are used at regular intervals in his translation. Below are the last lines from the two translations. Baldev Vaid’s translation: So you see all around the macabre dance of death and ever new freaks spawned by death you see all around errors amply multiplied being watched by everybody in helpless silence. (Vajpeyi 1998, 44)

Dharwadker’s translation: That is why, wherever you look, there is dancing, jubilation, death is now giving birth to brand new children. Everywhere there are oversights with the teeth of saws, there are heavily armed mistakes: the world looks at them and walks on, rubbing its hands. (Dharwadker and Ramanujan 1994, 29)


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The poetry in Baldev Vaid’s translation has elements of intangible sublimity. The poetic utterances like “macabre dance of death/ and ever new freaks spawned” not only bring out the gruesomeness of the modernist times, but also provide an ethereal background for the theme to reach an open-ended conclusion. Nothing could be done to stop the errors that are “amply multiplied.” The crowd is “helpless” and impotent since it cannot do anything except watch in silence. However, Dharwadker renders these lines in a manner that is more prosaic. In his translation, there is no hesitation to use utterances like "That is why/ wherever you look/… Everywhere/ there are oversights.” At the same time, the way he utilises modernist metaphors elicits our attention. Phrases like “teeth of saws” and “heavily armed mistakes” demonstrate a violent thrust that signifies disharmony and rupture. At the same time, these utterances demonstrate a harsh and rasping personification. The sterility and moroseness of the modernist times are captured in the utterance, “death is now giving birth/ to brand new children.” Again, there is a severe indictment of the lost generation of the modernist period when the translation renders the last lines as, “the world looks at them/ and walks on,/ rubbing its hands.” The impotence of an entire generation that abstains from performing the necessary action to curtail the spread of voidness can be seen. Thus, the two translations capture the dialogic intensity of the original in two varied manners. Baldev Vaid renders it in a way that demonstrates an emphasis on rhyme and rhythm. His translation even reorganises the form of the original as he divides it into convenient smaller stanzas of uneven lengths. The utterances are imbued with a melody, though irregular and uneven. On the other hand, Dharwadker’s translation is fragmented and disjointed. He attempts to sharpen the pungent thrust and diabolic momentum of the original Hindi poem by making the modernist metaphors more jarring and disturbing. He discards rhythm and rhyme and employs a prosaic language to convey the miasma and squalor of the modernist times. Thereby, his translation challenges the traditional modes of poetry translation. Unlike Baldev Vaid, there is no ethereal touch attached to Dharwadker’s translation. The sublime and metaphysical impulses are toned down and rendered in a manner that is more factual, and even harsh. We can draw parallels between the translations of Adiga’s “Bhoota,” Karandikar’s “Daatapaasun Daatakade,” and Muktibodh’s “Shoonya.” Like the translation of “Bhoota” by A. K. Ramanujan & M. G.

Translating Polyphonies of Lyric Poetry


Krishnamurthi and the translation of “Daatapaasun Daatakade” by Karandikar himself, in the translation of “Shoonya” by Baldev Vaid an attempt to capture the poetic melody through an emphasis on rhyme and rhythm can be seen. In the same way, Dharwadker’s translation of “Shoonya” has much in common with the translation of “Bhoota” by Nadig and the translation of “Daatapaasun Daatakade” by Chitre; it is prosaic and cryptic, the modernist metaphors and imagery made more striking and rasping. In all three cases, the source-text is starkly modernist. The translations respond to these modernist strains in two different ways. Either they pay more attention to the form, content, and poetic melody of the original that make the translations elaborate and literal, or they respond to the tone and idiom of the original that encourage the translators to utilise cryptic and terse utterances. Thus, the two manners of rendering the original text bring to light a curious characteristic feature of the translations. That is, if the original poem can be seen as polyphonic, then the two translations are dialogical subsets that attempt to capture the vividness of the source-text in different manners. They are “answering words” to the polyphonic appeal of the source-text, creating a polyphony that, of course, cannot be compared with the original polyphony, but could be considered a creative attempt towards achieving that multi-voiced appeal.

The Rationale for Polyphonic Variations The differing polyphonies in the translations of the same poem raise certain pertinent questions. Why do the dialogical operations alter in the two translations? What factors are responsible for such a change in the inter-animation of voices? Are these factors identifiable with the norms that determine cultural change? These are difficult questions that demand an investigation into the problematic relationship that exists between the temporal and spatial dimensions in which the translations were written and the discursive mechanisms that led to such a composition. It is possible to identify two reasons for the differing polyphonies. Firstly, translation is always an “answering word” in the Bakhtinian sense. In this sense, it is the “answering word” to the source-text. As Bakhtin writes in his essay “Discourse in the Novel”: The word, directed towards its object, enters a dialogically agitated and tension-filled environment of alien words, value judgements and accents,


Chapter Four weaves in and out of complex interrelationships, merges with some, recoils from others, intersects with yet a third group …. (1994, 276)

Translation as an utterance composed in a specific time/space category is the product of a “tension-filled environment.” It is the result of a dialogical agitation that is never static in any socio-cultural situation. The “eventness” of translation determines the differing dialogical improvisation. However, this should not be understood in Marxist terms as a sociocultural situation determining the activity of translation. Rather, it is the result of a dialogical operation involving complex interrelationships of agreement and disagreement between the source language/culture and target language/culture, between the addresser/translator and the addressee/reader. Secondly, translation shapes itself by drawing heavily upon foreign sources. As Lawrence Macura argues: “The development of national cultures is marked by periods when the culture as a whole, or in part, exhibits some typological features of translation, when it takes over cultural phenomena that have originality elsewhere, and adopts them” (1990, 70). This adoption is not a passive imitation but serves an “expropriative function” of invading the rival territory to create cultural phenomena by analogy. We observed that the two translations into English show either a tilt towards romantic imagination or an inclination towards stark modernism. These inclinations towards the literary movements of the West demonstrate how translations in the Indian national situation shape themselves through adoption and analogy. English, being the “link cultural language,” demands a dialogic reciprocation from the translator towards the creation of a cultural situation akin to its own. A translator, on the other hand, does not passively submit to such an attraction, but undertakes a carnivalistic intrusion into the other’s domain and expropriates its cultural tendencies.

Notes 1

Bakhtin was critical of dialectics as in the philosophy of Marx and Hegel, and of the opinion that it leads to reified images. In his words: “Dialogue and dialectics … take a dialogue and remove the voices (the partitioning of the voices), remove the intonations (emotional and individualizing ones), carve out abstract concepts and judgements from living words and responses, cram everything into one abstract consciousness—and that’s how you get dialectics” (1994b, 147). For Bakhtin, the polyphonic novel does not exemplify the operation of dialectics; rather, it demonstrates the artistic reworking of multiple voices. There cannot be a

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synthesis or a negotiation in the context of polyphony, only an unfinalizable openendedness. 2 For a deeper analysis of Bakhtin’s “polyphony” as exemplified in Dostoevsky’s fiction see Qian Zhongwen’s article in New Literary History, “Problems of Bakhtin’s Theory about ‘Polyphony’” (1997, 779–90). As Zhongwen observes: “Bakhtin assumed that all fiction in the past was under the complete control of their authors, so in spite of their different characters having been woven together with each other, their remained nothing but ‘homophony,’ namely a sort of ‘monologic fiction.’ As for the Dostoevskian novels, instead of falling into this category, they were ‘polyphonic fiction,’ namely a sort of ‘all round dialogic fiction’ (PD 76)” (1997, 779). Zhongwen problematises this understanding by critically examining the author’s and hero’s voices in the fiction of Dostoevsky along with their “multivocality.” 3 See Genette (1980, 157–89) for an analysis of the notion of “voice” in narrative texts. Genette distinguishes between “homodiegetic” and “heterodiegetic” voices in narrative texts with examples from European narratives. He also identifies “intra-diegetic” and “inter-diegetic” voices in the context of the speech conversation of the characters of a fiction. These “voices” are similar to Bakhtin’s monologic and dialogic voices. However, what distinguishes them from Bakhtin’s conception is their finality and structure. For Bakhtin, voices don’t merge but are always “surprisingly open-ended.” 4 Voice is not merely a speech category; that is, related to vocal and auditory perception. But it is very much an element of written discourse. This phenomenon makes it one of the most complex elements in a text. Richard Aczel, in his article in New Literary History “Hearing Voices in Narrative Texts” (1998, 467–500), discusses the significance of voice as an element of writing. In his words: “As an entity attributed to (silent) written texts, the concept of voice inevitably raises questions of ontology and metaphoricity which remain inseparable from its more technical delimitation as a textual function or effect. The question of ‘who speaks?’ in narrative discourse invites the further question of whether texts can really be said to ‘speak’ at all, and if so what are the theoretical motivations and implications of the metaphor of ‘speech’ for ‘writing’?” (1998, 467). This problematisation between speech and writing is relevant in the context of an extension of polyphony to poetry because poetry “speaks” with the help of its stylistic and rhetorical categories that are more written elements than spoken. However, poetry has a spoken voice in the form of music and melody. Certainly, these aspects make poetry polyphonic. 5 See L. S. Deshpande’s essay “Poetry Translation: A Dilemma” (1994, 97–112). Deshpande examines the problems of poetry translation at three levels: phonemic, syntactic, and semantic. In his words: "While translating poetry, particularly of lyrical nature … stylistic choices are made, first to pass through transformation processes and are, then, subjected to ‘deviational’ and then, if found inadequate, on to a ‘creative’ processes leading to ‘variation’ of language on the different levels of meaning and touching the ‘highest limits of translatability’” (1994, 102). In his interesting analysis, Deshpande demonstrates the practical difficulties a translator of poetry has to face on cultural, collocational, and functional planes.

80 6

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For an analysis of the Navya and Navodaya movements of Kannada poetry see S. K. Desai’s “Introduction” (1976, 1–7) to Kannada Poetry in Indian Poetry Today Vol. 2. 7 By poetic we mean the Romantic conception where poems are metrical compositions demonstrating rhythm, rhyme, and the use of a refined language. To quote Wordsworth, who sets the parameters for Romantic poetry, “the music of harmonious metrical language, the sense of difficulty overcome, and the blind association of pleasure which has been previously received from works of rhyme or metre of the same or similar construction, an indistinct perception perpetually renewed of language closely resembling that of real life, and yet, in the circumstance of metre, differing from it so widely—all these imperceptibly make up a complex feeling of delight, which is of the most important use in tampering the painful feeling always found intermingled with powerful descriptions of the deeper passions” (1988, 177). In AKR and MGK’s translation, we can observe these poetic strains. 8 See Dilip Chitre’s “Introduction” to An Anthology of Marathi Poetry (1945– 1965) (1966, 1–26). Apart from tracing the trajectory of modernist poetry from Mardhekar to Narayan Surve, Chitre also identifies the influence of the English modernist poets and French symbolists on Marathi poetry. 9 For a brief overview of the trends in modernist Hindi poetry see Vajpeyi (1976, 161–7). 10 Also see Vajpeyi (2001, 7–11). The essay discusses issues related to the translation of Hindi poetry in general, and Muktibodh in particular, into English.


The Concept of the “Polyphonic Novel” and U. R. Anantha Murthy’s Samskara As against a monologic conception of truth, which emphasises a single idea or thought as the only reality, Bakhtin’s concern was with an antisystemic and non-monologic truth that appreciates the existence of plural consciousnesses and viewpoints about the world. A polyphonic novel, for Bakhtin, like the novels Dostoevsky wrote, helps us realise such a dialogic sense of truth by presenting a multi-layered reality. According to Bakhtin: The artistic representation of an idea is possible only when the idea is posed in terms beyond affirmation and repudiation, but at the same time not reduced to simple psychic experience deprived of any direct power to signify. (1984, 80)

For Bakhtin, a monologic work of art cannot produce multiple dimensions about the world outside—it freezes its very basic characteristics. According to Bakhtin, Dostoevsky was highly successful in providing an “artistic representation” of the multiple viewpoints about the world. His novels present a “unity of consciousnesses” and ideologies about human existence that capture the dialogic truth of life. Let us now shift the focus to a discussion of a polyphonic novel from the Indian literary situation. Among the major modernist texts of Indian literature, U. R. Anantha Murthy’s Kannada novel Samskara (1965) has provoked a great deal of debate in intellectual circles.1 The novel critiques the deep-rooted social hierarchies in post-independence India and exposes the sanctimony of religious orthodoxy. It presents a profound contemplation of a Brahmin community’s dogmatic adherence to religious norms that gives rise to a conflictual condition of personal dilemmas and degradation of social norms. Samskara is not merely an inquiry into the superfluous rites and rituals of Brahmanical society; by problematising


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religious hypocrisy and societal constructions it also exemplifies the plight of human existence in the modern world.2 On a larger plane, the novel portrays the spiritual disillusionment of an entire civilization, and subverts the sacred and the sublime through the profane and the instinctive (for a brief synopsis of the novel see Appendix IV). Samskara embodies Bakhtinian polyphony by presenting a dialogic confrontation of voices on different planes. The novel unfolds a dialogue between several consciousnesses and articulates an open-ended worldview. The polyphony of the text can be discussed under three subheadings; the heteroglossia of the text, the prevalence of multiple voices, and the dialogic sense of truth it exemplifies.

The “Heteroglossia” of the Text For Bakhtin, a novel should incorporate the various languages of the social world. The different speech types of a novel do not crystallise the social reality; rather, they present the varied social interactions in their dialogic unfinalizability. As Bakhtin writes, The novel not only labours … under the necessity of knowing literary language in all its depth and subtlety, but it must in addition know all the other languages of heteroglossia. The novel demands a broadening and deepening of the language horizon, a sharpening in our perception of socio-linguistic differentiations. (1994a, 366)

Such diverse “socio-linguistic differentiations” can be observed in Samskara,3 with its expanse of languages that ranges from the Brahmin speech types to the dialects of the outcastes. The Madhwa Brahmins speak a variety of Kannada that borders on a literary dialect. Their language is punctuated by Sanskrit shlokas and images from Hindu mythology. The scene in the first chapter, where the Brahmins debate the last rites for the dead Naranappa, demonstrates Sanskritic markers in the Kannada language. Among the Madhwa Brahmins, variations can be observed in the utterances of Praneshacharya and Naranappa. Praneshacharya’s speech is marked with a thoughtful sombreness and simplicity. His very balanced utterances are internally dialogised (2002, 13). On the other hand, Naranappa’s speech is characterised by a doublevoiced carnivalistic motif. His play on the words “acharya” and “achari” to refer to Praneshacharya and the hero of his story (about a holy man’s moral degradation) shows an undertone of mockery and laughter (23).

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Though major variations cannot be made out between the Madhwa and Smarta Brahmins’ languages, the tone of the utterances of the Smartas like Manjayya and Shakarayya is submissive and obsequious. The language of the outcastes shows a lesser influence of the Sanskritic markers. Sanskrit words such as “brahmana” are nativised to become “brambra,” a feature that can also be seen in the language of the farmer later in the novel. The feminine gender has no presence in the language of the outcastes. The neuter gender is used to address the female, as well as a male and female couple. Belli’s utterances in the text serve as an example. The presence of a female as an individual or as a part of a couple inevitably implies the neuter gender. While the language of the Brahmins and the language of the outcastes present us with two contrasting language poles, the farmer’s expressions and Putta’s utterances are speech types that lie between them. The farmer’s language is a better example for understanding the social markers. A respect for Brahmins, an attachment to rituals, and an implicit acceptance of caste hierarchy can be seen in his conversation with Praneshacharya. The farmer’s language also reveals an absence of the feminine gender. Another noticeable aspect in the farmer’s language is the nativisation of Sanskrit words. For example: “brambra” for “Brahmana,” and “Ratostava” for “Rathotsava.” Putta’s language is a diluted Brahmin dialect. It lacks the authoritative temper of the Madhwas and the obsequiousness of the Smartas. It creates its identity by resisting polarities. His language is descriptive without losing an interrogative concern throughout.

The “Multiple Voices” of the Text The voices of a polyphonic text do not gravitate towards a unitary consciousness, but present themselves as separate consciousnesses that are in dialogue with each other. The authorial voice does not become a dominant voice that suppresses the voice of other characters, it facilitates an active dialogue in the novel by participating and coordinating its multivoicedness. For Bakhtin, Dostoevsky’s novels best present such a dialogic polyphony of voices:


Chapter Five It could be said that Dostoevsky offers, in artistic form, something like a sociology of consciousnesses—to be sure, only on the level of coexistence. But even so, Dostoevsky as an artist does arrive at an objective mode for visualizing the life of consciousnesses and the forms of their living coexistence, and thus offers material that is valuable for the sociologist as well. (Bakhtin 1984, 32)

Voice, which could be roughly identified with a particular character’s “point of view” about the situation s/he is confronting, acquires the status of an individual consciousness through the author of a polyphonic novel. The author, with a superior intellect and artistic skill, elevates the voices of characters to present a “worldview,” that is, the position of the world with regard to a particular character, and also the position of a character in relation to the reality that surrounds them. A few pertinent questions that could be asked here are: How does the author conduct the voice of the protagonist without allowing it to overrule? Can we identify the authorial voice with the protagonist’s voice? Does the protagonist’s “point of view” become the “worldview” of the novel? Though a direct answer is difficult, the following insight provided by Bakhtin with regard to the voice of the protagonists in Dostoevsky’s novels helps disentangle certain complications: The hero interests Dostoevsky not as some manifestation of reality that possesses fixed and specific socially typical or individually characteristic traits, nor as a specific profile assembled out of unambiguous and objective features which, taken together, answer the question “who is he?” No, the hero interests Dostoevsky as a particular point of view on the world and on oneself, as the position enabling a person to interpret and evaluate his own self and his surrounding reality. What is important to Dostoevsky is not how his hero appears in the world but first and foremost how the world appears to his hero, and how the hero appears to himself. (1984, 47)

In a polyphonic novel, the protagonist’s consciousness is always dialogic, in the sense that it springs from a response to the reality the novelist has created. It is never a fixed and stable voice; rather, it is riddled with a complex intertwining of the different perceptions about the world. Though the author governs the protagonist’s voice, it appears to be relatively free and independent. This occurs due to the artistic unity of the novel that allows and equips the protagonist to move beyond the actuality presented by the author.

Translating a Polyphonic Novel


A closer analysis of Samskara shows a dialogic confabulation of many voices. The different characters of the novel present us with contrasting points of view about their surrounding world. For example, the Brahmins of Durvasapura, both at an individual level and as a group, provide us with interesting examples to understand the operation of voices. Being the superior caste, their collective consciousness has a dominating and hegemonic thrust, which seeks to perpetuate caste hierarchy. At the same time, within the domain of the Brahmins, there is yet another hierarchy between the Madhwas and the Smartas. The utterances of the Madhwas like Garudacharya and Lakshmanacharya reveal a tone of loftiness and pomposity about the Brahmanical world. Their voice represents the Brahmanical authority that creates an inviolable territory for itself by repeatedly exerting its superiority over other sects and communities. The Smartas like Durgabhatta and Manjayya challenge the Madhwa superiority by subtly pointing out the loopholes of Madhwa Brahmanism. Their voice is the voice of the second-in-command, which never loses an opportunity to degrade its superior other and to gain control over the Brahmin world. As against these conflicting voices, Praneshacharya’s voice is level-headed with regard to the power politics within the Brahmin sects. His voice is one of self-consciousness and reticence. His consciousness does not harbour bombastic claims about Brahmanical superiority; rather, it contains a contemplative interrogation about the degeneration that plagues his community. We will return to an analysis of the consciousness of Praneshacharya later. Naranappa’s hedonism and anti-Brahmanical life constitute the voice of the rebel. His outbursts spring from a cynical disdain for the sordidness and decadence that have percolated into Brahminhood. At a subtler level, his abandonment of “Samskara” signifies the imminent necessity for subjecting Brahminhood to a close scrutiny. He foresees the inevitable ruin long before Praneshacharya, and his death marks the beginning of the decline. Despite his physical absence, his voice reverberates throughout the text. In Meenakshi Mukherjee’s words: Naranappa’s death, instead of being his defeat, turns out to be a victory. Like the dead body in Ionesco’s play Amidee or How to Get Rid of It? the corpse of Naranappa seems to swell gradually and fill up the whole agrahara in a metaphorical as well as real sense. (1985, 174)

Some space is also devoted to the Brahmin women of the agrahara. Being upper-caste women they have at least three roles to perform. Firstly, they


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are presented as sexually unattractive. They are certainly not the objects of the male gaze and their bodies are grotesque structures epitomised in the invalid body of Bhagirathi. Secondly, in them, we observe a greed for wealth. Chandri’s gold chain provokes an irresistible desire in the minds of Sita and Anusuya. They, in turn, are shown to persuade their husbands for the gold chain. Thirdly, they are passive spectators devoid of an active presence in Brahmin conversations (except for half-wit Lakshmidevamma). Thus, all three roles they perform signify a lack—a lack of sexual appeal, a lack of material prosperity, and a lack of a voice to vocalise their presence. It is noteworthy to consider the presence of non-Brahmin women like Chandri, Belli, and Padmavati, who act as foils to the Brahmin women. The bodies of the non-Brahmin women are shown as the objects of lust that become the focus of male scrutiny. Being outsiders to the Brahmin community, they also embody an otherness whose identity is confined to its outer fringes. Being victims of socialisation and gender discrimination, they provide us with yet another group of women who are mute observers of decadent values. While Chandri is seen as the catalyst who triggers the turbulence, Padmavati, towards the end of the novel, is shown to carry that chaos towards an open-ended future. There is no complexity attributed to these characters; rather, they are types with specific roles. Nalini Natarajan, in her study of the women characters in Samskara, distinguishes between the realist mode of representing the Brahmin wives and the existentialist mode in representing the non-Brahmin women. According to her: If the realist sectors of Samskara erase upper-caste women’s labour and sexuality, the existentialist sections could be read as erasing the prostitute’s claim to subjectivity through art—in other words, through the erasure of women’s cultural labour. (1999, 163)

Praneshacharya, the protagonist, is shown to possess a consciousness that is entangled with many points of view about the surrounding reality. He is a modern man seeking to define his identity in a society sinking into oblivion. He presents us with an existentialist crisis that compels him to either embrace the decadent norms of orthodox Brahminhood and consequently obliterate himself, or reform his society by staying within the Brahmanical framework. He, along with the other Brahmins, is both the culprit and the victim of the deteriorating condition, because, being an authority on Vedic learning, his presence is a necessary condition to sanction and impose orthodoxy. At the same time, he bears the brunt of

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such sanctions as he realises his double standards both in his private and public life. His search for a solution is the problem of the modern wo/man who grapples with spiritual disillusionment. His struggle occurs on both mundane and metaphysical planes. While he becomes a victim of wish fulfilment and sexual gratification, on a higher plane his is the soul embittered by religious ethics. The battle for the reinvigoration of the decadent society is transferred to the mind of Praneshacharya. His mind is the arena for an agitation between religious conformism and hedonist escapism, between moral degeneration and social regeneration, and between stagnant hopelessness and an ethereal vision for a refinement of the crumbling spirit. We observe a pensive Praneshacharya withdrawing into an inner psychic life characterised by deep scepticism. His speculations help him realise his incompleteness and imperfections. His task is to search for his lost soul amidst destitution and disparagement. As the psychoanalyst thinker C. G. Jung adumbrates the dilemma of the modern man in the essay “The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man”: Through his scepticism, the modern man is thrown back upon himself; his energies flow towards their source and wash to the surface those psychic contents which are at all times there, but lie hidden in the silt as long as the stream flows smoothly in its course. (1985, 235)

Praneshacharya’s predicament, by providing a psychological dimension to the spiritual crisis, supports Jung’s observation. Praneshacharya’s voice is loaded with several traces. Being the “crestjewel of Vedic learning,” he represents the Brahmanical wisdom in its ostensible embellishments. At the same time, it is through him and Naranappa that we are made to understand the lacunae and shallowness of the religious scriptures. While in the first section he is presented as a magnanimous human being with altruistic concerns and a person miles away from sensual pleasures, in the later sections we observe a transformation in his worldly attitudes. The long-suppressed libidinal instincts come to the fore to puncture the shallow ideals he represented. His devotion to his wife Bhagirathi starts appearing as a superficial concern arising out of a hypocritical urge to establish himself on the high pedestal of orthodoxy. 4 Thus, we can observe a flux in his voice. His worldview keeps altering and swinging between the polarities of his existence. His consciousness is perturbed by the constant operations of overlapping concerns and


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anxieties. He is riddled with several questions: Who is he? What is his purpose in the given scheme of things? How does he define his existence to others? His voice demonstrates the coexistence of several views about the reality presented in the novel. The world, as seen through his consciousness, is an unfinalizable mess of several thoughts and ideas. For this reason, his voice does not exert a dominating thrust on the other consciousnesses. Rather, it accommodates various perceptions that define and situate him and it attempts to interpret the social forces behind such perceptions. His consciousness is always dialogic; that is, it is a product of an encounter between how other(s) define him and how he perceives himself in an unfinalizable world. The authorial voice is elusive since no character in the novel is evidently presented as the author’s ideologue. We get a shifting glimpse of the author’s voice in Naranappa’s critique of Brahmin orthodoxy and Praneshacharya’s contemplation of the spiritual crisis that confronts him and his society, yet it is not completely identifiable with either of their consciousnesses. While the author’s voice seems to be approving Naranappa’s critique of orthodoxy, it is also critical of his hedonism. This aspect can be observed in Praneshacharya’s reluctance in embracing the life of a hedonist towards the end. Yet, Praneshacharya also does not represent the author. Rather, he becomes the space on whom the author unleashes his severe indictment of the degenerating values. Praneshacharya, for being in some way responsible for the decline, becomes the object of the author’s criticism. Therefore, there is a distance between the author’s voice and Praneshacharya’s consciousness. At a subtler level, we can observe a dialogical triangulation between Naranappa’s voice, Praneshacharya’s voice, and the author’s voice. The author’s voice governs the other two without explicitly defining its regulating role. The author, with his intangible voice, seems to be present somewhere in the novel. But, the artistic unity of the novel allows the authorial voice to evade and skip positions. 5

The Dialogic Sense of Truth in the Text Samskara presents us with an artistic representation of truth. Though the idea is to show the degeneration of a society, the novel allegorically critiques the decadence of an entire civilization. Durvasapura symbolically represents the modern world—a barren wasteland, crippled by overwhelming cataclysms. The epidemic plague symbolises the all-pervading moral

Translating a Polyphonic Novel


chaos and spiritual anarchy. Praneshacharya’s personal dilemma is also a social turmoil, which demands an uprooting of socio-religious constructions. The novel advocates an interrogation—a self-critique of cultures and traditions that are true of any modern society. The title Samskara is loaded with multiple meanings. As A. K. Ramanujan writes in his “Afterword” to the English translation: The title, Samskara, refers to a concept central to Hinduism. Our epigraph lists some of the denotations. “A rite of passage or life-cycle ceremony,” “forming well, making perfect,” “the realizing of past perceptions,” “preparation, making ready” are some of the meanings of the multi-vocal Sanskrit word. Even “Sanskrit” (samskrta, the “remade, refined, perfected” language) is part of the samskara paradigm. (2004, 139)

The novelist plays on the different meanings of this polysemous word to present a multi-layered truth.6 Contradictions are juxtaposed to demonstrate the open-endedness and messiness of the world like the maxims of orthodoxy and sexual gratification, the pretensions of Brahmins, and the modesty of the outcastes, myth, and reality. There is a realisation and a hope for refinement amidst agony and disgruntlement. The novel is full of overlapping concerns. It is a psychological drama, an existentialist crisis, a metaphysical contemplation, a sociological commentary, and an allegorical fable. Individual characters embody entire value systems. As Meenakshi Mukherjee writes: The opposition between the values of the agrahara which the Acharya shares in the beginning of the novel and those of the renegade Naranappa extend beyond the framework of religion or custom. With allegorical clarity two fundamentally different responses to experience are presented; one emphasizing order and restraint, the other abandonment and passion. (1985, 171)

Throughout the novel we can observe the operation of a subtle irony. Naranappa’s rebellion and death ironically foretell the impending doom. Praneshacharya in the later sections realises that he embodies all the things he had been opposing until then. The death of the invalid Bhagirathi ironically brings to light the maturity of Praneshacharya. The Brahmin women, despite their caste superiority, are inferior to the non-Brahmin women. Chandri, a lower-caste prostitute, becomes the torchbearer for Praneshacharya, “the crest-jewel of Vedic learning.” Half-wit

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Lakshmidevamma’s outbursts on seeing the “ghost” of Naranappa, in a metaphoric sense, turn out to be true. Thus, irony could be seen as a voice in itself contributing to the dialogic sense of truth. As Bakhtin suggests: There is neither a first nor a last word and there are no limits to the dialogic context (it extends into boundless future) … At any moment in the development of the dialogue there are immense, boundless masses of forgotten contextual meanings, but at certain moments of the dialogue’s subsequent development along the way they are recalled and invigorated in renewed form (in a new context). Nothing is absolutely dead: every meaning will have its homecoming festival. The problem of great time. (1994b, 170)

The novel Samskara concludes open-endedly. The novelist does not compromise with the various layers of truth he is dealing with. He leaves them as they are, in their unfinalizable dialogism. There is no ultimate vision where the different points of view converge. Rather, the voices reach out into the domain of “outsideness.”

Samskara in the English Translation The English translation of the novel by A. K. Ramanujan is titled Samskara: A Rite for a Dead Man (1976). It is noticeable that the original Kannada text specifies that it is a “novel” in its subtitle. In the translation, however, the subtitle is an attempt to capture a single meaning from among the spectral dispersion of various connotations the term has in the Indian Sanskritic and philosophical traditions. An attempt on the part of the translator to elaborate and particularise the multi-layered implications of the term is certainly evident.7 Ramanujan has also added an epigraph in the form of a dictionary entry. He is obviously aware of the descriptionist tendency in his translation. As he writes in his Translator’s Note: “Samskara takes its title seriously. Hence our epigraph is a dictionary entry on this important Sanskrit word with many meanings” (2004, viii). Apart from explaining the original text, two other traits can be observed in the English translation: it freezes the dialogicality of languages of the original by presenting the narration in a uniform and common language, and it neutralises the voices of certain characters by minimising the gender politics in its representation of Durvasapura. These characteristics of the translation have an impact on the polyphonic appeal and the dialogic sense of truth of the original Kannada novel.

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Elaborated Textuality: Translation as Explanation Ramanujan’s translation seeks to explicate the culturally specific meanings of the Kannada text by interpreting them for the target readers. Apart from adding notes and an Afterword, where he explains the complex nature of the text and his task as a translator, we can observe various instances within the translated text that show a descriptive tendency. The subtle nuances concerning rituals and rites, the sacred texts of Hinduism, religious myths that are directly related to the actions of certain characters, and even the daily routine of the Madhwa Brahmins are elaborately narrated in the translated text. For instance, in the first chapter of the first section, Praneshacharya’s daily routine is elaborated. To quote from Ramanujan’s translation: Before he sat down to his meal, he picked up the fodder for Gowri, the cow, on a banana leaf and placed it in front of Gowri who was grazing in the backyard. Worshipfully he caressed the cow’s body, till the hair on her hide rose in pleasure. In a gesture of respect, he touched his own eyes with the hand that had touched the holy animal. As he came in, he heard a woman’s voice calling out, “Acharya, Acharya.” It sounded like Chandri’s voice. Chandri was Naranappa’s concubine. If the Acharya had talked to her, he would be polluted; he would have to bathe again before his meal. But how can a morsel go down the gullet with the woman waiting in the yard? (2004, 2, Italics added)

It may be noticed that what is actually a single paragraph in the original is translated into two paragraphs in the English version. Moreover, the expression “Gowri, the cow” in the translated text is simply “Gowri” in the original. The native reader almost intuitively understands that the word refers to a cow since the word “gograasa” has already been mentioned. The English equivalent “fodder” does not specifically indicate that it is for a cow. It therefore becomes necessary to explain that it is a cow grazing in the backyard. Again, the fact that cows are worshipped and treated with much reverence is brought to light through the expressions “worshipfully,” “in a gesture of respect,” and “the holy animal,” which are absent in the original. Similarly, in the second paragraph, the translation more explicitly conveys that after speaking to a concubine a Brahmin needs to bathe to avoid “pollution.” This aspect is implicitly rendered in the original where the native reader is assumed as being aware of the Brahmanical way of life.


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When myths are invoked in the original, the translation consists of an elaborate rendering. For instance, in the second chapter of the first section we come across a story concerning how the village Durvasapura got its name. To quote from the translation: The name of the agrahara was Durvasapura. There was a place-legend about it. Right in the middle of the flowing Tunga river stood an islandlike hillock, overgrown with a knot of trees. They believed Sage Durvasa still performed his penance on it. In the second Aeon of the cycle of time, for a short while, the five Pandava brothers had lived ten miles from here, in a place called Kaimara. Once their wife Draupadi had wanted to go for a swim in the water. Bhima, a husband who fulfilled every whim of his wife, had dammed up Tunga river for her. When Sage Duravasa woke up in the morning and looked for water for his bath and prayers, there wasn’t any in his part of the Tunga. He got angry. But Dharmaraja, the eldest, with his divine vision, could see what was happening, and advised his rash brother Bhima to do something about it. Bhima, son of the wind-god, forever obedient to his elder brother’s words, broke the dam in three places and let the water flow. That’s why even today from the Kaimara dam on, the river flows in three strands. The brahmins of Durvasapura often say to their neighbouring agraharas: on the twelfth day of the moon, early in the morning, any truly pious man could hear the Conch of Sage Durvasa from his clump of trees. But the brahmins of the agrahara never made any crude claims that they themselves had ever heard the sound of that conch. (2004, 16–17 Italics added)

The story is rendered with certain additional information which is absent in the original. It is made clear that Durvasa refers to a sage who quite easily becomes angry and whose wrath is intolerable. It is indicated to the reader that Draupadi is the wife of Pandavas, Bhima is one of the husbands, Dharmaraja, the eldest, is very scrupulous and discreet, and Bhima, the son of the wind-god, is quite rash in his behaviour. The Pandavas belonged to “the second Aeon of the cycle of time”—an expression that attempts to explain the word “Dwapara Yuga” (2002, 18) in the original. Not only do these explanations interpret the original text for the target reader (specifically, the non-Indian), they also serve as tools of simplification that minimise the significance of the cultural markers of the original text. The thrust in reaching out to the requirements of the target readers reduces the dialogicality of the original text and makes the translator render it in what could be called an elaborate but depreciated version. This aspect of the translation becomes clearer in the following example from the seventh chapter of the first section. Fearing that Naranappa’s

Translating a Polyphonic Novel


ghost would trouble their children, the Brahmin women don’t allow their children to play outside their houses. The doors are closed and the children confined to the houses: Never before had they shut a door in broad daylight like this. There were no sacred designs to bless and decorate the threshold, nor any sprinkling of cowdung water for the yard without them. The agrahara didn’t feel the morning had dawned yet. Things looked empty, desolate. (2004, 51, Italics added)

The expression “sacred designs to bless and decorate the threshold” refers to the word “rangavalli” (2002, 42) from the original text. In the notes, Ramanujan adds that “rangavalli, rangoli auspicious and ornamental designs drawn with various coloured powders on the floor, in front of a house or an idol” (2004, 153–4). The note seeks to explain the religious/cultural significance of the word, but it is rendered descriptively and monologically in the text. Rather than accepting the cultural specificity of the word and retaining the same in the translation by making it double-voiced in the Bakhtinian sense, the translator explains the term to the target readers. This act erases the ritualistic thrust that the original word carries and dilutes its meaning. Again, while translating abuses, the descriptive tendency nullifies the cultural/regional peculiarities of the abuse and negates its implications. For instance, half-wit Lakshmidevamma, while cursing Garudacharya for his wrongdoings, uses the word “badamunde” (2002, 37) to refer to herself. This abuse is translated as “poor old shaven widow” (2004, 43), which does not carry the derogatory combination of widowhood and promiscuity, but merely generates compassion for the “poor old widow” who, for some unknown reason, has shaved her head.

Deteriorated “Heteroglossia”: The Loss of Languages The Kannada text is highly heteroglottic. While the Madhwa Brahmins speak a dialect that borders on the literary language, the speech of the outcastes and the farmer drastically varies in tone and choice of words. They act as two language poles in the text providing a stark contrast, and at the same time account for the cultural diversity within the village of Durvasapura. However, in the English translation, the linguistic disparity is reduced and the dialogue of languages is curtailed. The various dialects of the original


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Kannada text are translated into a more or less uniform English language and the native markers are neutralised. To quote a few utterances of the Madhwa Brahmins from their discussion on the death rites of Naranappa, which appears in the first chapter of the first part in the English translation: Praneshacharya: So the problem before us is—who should perform the rites? The Books say, any relative can. Failing that, any brahmin can offer to do them. … Garudacharya: The guru will also agree to what you say. What do you say? Let’s set aside the question of whether I should do the rites. The real question is: is he a brahmin at all? What do you say?—He slept regularly with a lowcaste woman. … Durgabhatta, a Smarta brahmin: Chi Chi Chi, don’t be too rash, Acharya. O no, a brahmin isn’t lost because he takes a lowborn prostitute. Our ancestors after all came from the North—you can ask Praneshacharya if you wish—history says they cohabited with Dravidian women. Don’t think I am being facetious. Think of all the people who go to the brothels of Basrur in South Kanara. (2004, 5–6)

It is clear that though the tone varies, the dialect used in all the three examples above is the same. A comparison of the Brahmin-talk with the villager’s and the outcastes’ speech would be productive: Villager: There’s a well here. I’ll give you a pitcher. You can draw some water and take a bath. I will give you rice and lentils, you can cook it on three bricks, and eat. You must be tired, poor man. If you really want to get to the agrahara, tell me; the cartman Sheshappa is here to see a relative, his cart will go home empty. He lives near the agrahara …. (2004, 95) Belli, the outcaste girl: If Pilla gets the Demon on him today, we must ask about this. I’m quite scared, Chinni. What’s all this, rats coming like an army to our poor pariah huts! Chowda and his wife popping off, snap! Like that! And papa and mama trodden all over by the Demon. We must ask Him. (2004, 58)

In the Kannada text, the villager speaks a rustic variety of Kannada. His language shows a mitigated use of Sanskrit words (they are used in their nativised version) and the inflections vary. His language is certainly not the same as the language spoken by Madhwa Brahmins. Again, the conversation between Belli and Chinni is yet another variety of Kannada

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spoken by the outcastes, which is poles apart from the Madhwa Brahmin’s speech. However, in the translation, the English language used is of the same type. The translator attempts to capture the imagery and the underlying tone of the utterances. But the languages do not differ. The heteroglossia of the original text is lost and the constant variation in the speech patterns of different characters is negotiated with an almost common and similar English language. By presenting the characters belonging to different rungs of social hierarchy with a uniform English language, the translation erases their distinct voices. The languages the characters speak are very much part of their identity configurations. A weakening of this diversity amounts to a situation of ideological closure and marginalisation of their presence. An urge to explain the Westerners in a language they can understand counteracts the living dialogic threads of the original text and neutralises the identities of its characters.

Diffusion of the “Dialogic Sense of Truth” The translation by Ramanujan renders the source-text monologically by emphasising certain key aspects that are relevant to the target readers. The approach is focused towards the readers of the text; this act leads to an abandonment of the plural consciousnesses that are re/presented in the source-text. The English version under Ramanujan moves towards a systemic and uni-layered reality, as against the multi-layered and antisystemic conception of truth presented in the source-text. By denying characters individual languages, and by forcing them to speak a common and uniform dialect, the translation hinders the dialogic sense of truth. The points of view of the characters and the ideological world they inhabit are rendered in a mode that is more descriptive than narrative. Another noticeable aspect is that the “pluralistic vibrations of different cultural groupings” are codified in an indistinguishable hackneyed speech variety. This affects the social reality of the text and the “dialogic essence” is neutralised. Therefore, the truth exemplified is merely a part of the truth demonstrated by the source-text.


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Samskara in the Hindi Translation The novel Samskara has been translated into Hindi by Chandrakant Kusanoor as Sanskaar. Interestingly, the translator does not add any subtitle; nor does he provide us with endnotes to explain the significance of rituals, myths, and other culturally specific characteristics of the text. Apart from a brief paragraph on the author and the text, the Hindi text does not include either the Afterword or Translator’s Note. Though the translator uses footnotes, they are not frequently seen in the text; they appear once roughly every ten pages. There are instances in the Hindi translation where several chapters have been translated without any footnotes. For instance, from the beginning of chapter four to the end of chapter ten, we can see that the translator hardly uses them. Unlike Ramanujan, who is very careful in his English translation of the novel with regard to explanations and descriptions of the cultural subtleties, Kusanoor seems to have found a cultural closeness and linguistic congeniality between Kannada and Hindi.8 It appears as though he is not bothered by the question of description. Rather, his question seems to be how to retain without explaining and annotating the cultural and regional specificities of the text. Before analysing the important characteristics of the Hindi translation, let us bring in the notion of “optimal relevance” as envisaged by Sperber and Wilson in their Relevance, Communication and Cognition (1986). The notion of “optimal relevance” is concerned with questions like what to convey and how much to convey, given the reader’s knowledge and background. A writer has to strike a careful balance between herself/himself and the reader of her/his text; that is, s/he has to understand the intelligibility of the reader and provide only such details that can communicate what is necessary. To quote Sperber and Wilson: “A speaker aiming at optimal relevance will leave implicit everything her hearer can be trusted to supply with less effort than would be needed to process an explicit prompt” (in Shastri 2001, 9). The notion of “optimal relevance” is significant in this context, because a translator has to have a clear understanding of what cultural subtleties are to be explained and what are to be implicitly conveyed. The challenge before a translator is to foresee the efforts the target reader would undertake to understand the source-text through her/his translation. It requires the translator to problematise her/his relationship with both the source-text and the target reader and then to strike a delicate balance for the task of translation. Optimal relevance helps a translator to make

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possible a dialogue between the source language/culture and the target language/culture. We will observe in our analysis that, to a certain extent, Kusanoor in his Hindi translation and R. S. Lokapur and V. G. Kanitkar in their Marathi translations, are successful in understanding what is “optimally relevant” to their target readers. Another concern related to the notion of “optimal relevance” is the question of the competence of the reader. Who is the target reader? Is s/he a person with a good knowledge of the source language/culture? (in the present case, the Kannada language/culture.) Or is s/he a person who can read the text only in the target language? How is one to determine the knowledge level of the target reader? Once determined, how to reveal and conceal the cultural specificities? These questions become important because they require the translator to chalk out different courses of action for different readerships. The translator’s crucial task is to elicit such an echoic utterance from the target-reader. To bring in Sperber and Wilson again, an “echoic utterance” conveys, “a whole range of attitudes and emotions” that are crucial for any interpretation process (in Shastri 2001, 10). The Hindi and Marathi translations of Samskara provide us with many examples that demonstrate the prevalence of echoic utterances that vary in their degrees of intensity.

Curtailed Textuality: Minimised Elaborations We observed that the English translation by Ramanujan elaborates the content by describing the Hindu rituals. In the Hindi translation, unless a particular ritualistic feature or cultural trait is completely alien to the Hindi reader, it is not explained. Let us consider the paragraph on Praneshacharya’s daily routine that we examined in our earlier discussion. It could be observed that, as in the original text, the description is confined to one paragraph. The translator does not elaborate the habitual deportment of Praneshacharya; nor does he allow himself to get carried away by the tendency very common among translators, which is to interpret the original text. Rather, his modus operandi is to include the original in the translation through capturing the words of the original and utilising their semantic value for the target audience. This aspect is evident in words like “Gow-gras” and “Romanchit Shareer.” However, it can be noticed that the translator helps the Hindi reader understand that Gowri is a cow in the phrase “Gowri naam ke Gaay.” This explanation is absent in the Kannada text but present in the English


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translation by Ramanujan. Since the name Gowri could lead to some confusion for a Hindi reader, the translator explains that it is the name of a cow. This indicates that though there is a cultural closeness between the languages Hindi and Kannada, there is also a distance at a micro-level. The cultural subtleties are not syncretic; rather, they are constituted by different and divergent cultural minutiae. The Hindi translator distinguishes between the nuances specific to Hindi and Kannada culture and interprets them only when it is necessary for the Hindi reader. Myths are rendered without additional exegesis and the religious overtones the myths carry are not narrated with ornamental explanations. For instance, the myth about the place Kaimara is translated with unembellished exactitude. It could be observed that Kusanoor does not tell the readers that the Pandavas are brothers—Dharmaraaj Yudhishthir is the eldest, Draupadi is the wife of Pandavas, Bhima is one of the husbands, and Durvaas is a sage who can be enraged at the slightest provocation. It is not required for the translator to explain to his Hindi readers what “Dwaraparayug” or “Divyadrishti” are. The story of Mahabharata, being common to Indians irrespective of their regional affiliations, helps the translator to contain in his translation the mythological undertones of the original. Therefore, the translated text in question is not a fluent interpretation of the original; it is an attempt towards retaining the cultural repertoire of the Kannada text. Thus, unlike Ramanujan’s English translation, in the Hindi text it is possible to observe a strain that reciprocates the inner dialogicity of the original. In order to understand how this dialogical strain in the Hindi translation becomes double-voiced, let us consider the following example. We examined earlier how the word “Rangavalli” in the original finds an elaboration in the English translation. The word “Rangavalli” in the original is retained by merely transliterating it into Hindi as “Rangoli.” The ritualistic significance and sacred import attached to the word are thus reproduced in translation. Though the significance “Rangavalli” has for religious Hindus varies among north-Indians and south-Indians, the translator does not explain it to the readers. Rather, he allows the reader to understand the cultural significance himself/herself. This adds one more voice to the dialogic tension in the word. The two voices are juxtaposed and both vie among themselves for attention and recognition. Thus, the word becomes double-voiced in the Bakhtinian sense and contributes in

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the dialogic reciprocation of the translation towards both the source-text and the target readers. Of particular interest is the way in which Kusanoor handles the problem of translating abuses. Abuses abound in the text, and certain abuses have particular relevance in the context of the Brahmin community. For instance, the elderly woman Lakshmidevamma uses abusive speech to curse Garudacharya. It can be seen that certain abuses like “chandaal” and “raand” are either transliterations of their Kannada counterparts or synonyms in Hindi. Again, the expression “Rourav narak” is an utterance of the source-text carried across to the target readers. The language of Lakshmidevamma in the Hindi text, which demonstrates her anxiety regarding the deterioration of moral and ritualistic fervour among the Brahmins of Durvasapura, should be considered as a careful attempt by the translator to construct a dialogical relationship with the target readers and the source-text. This is because the translator does not merely bank on the words of the sourcetext where abuse is concerned; he even uses some abuse from his repertoire to add rigour to the speech. For instance, the speech begins with the expression “Re badmash,” something which is not present in the Kannada source-text (though it is there in Ramanujan’s English translation as roughly “You villain”). Words of abuse are not described in the Hindi translation, as is the case with Ramanujan’s English translation. For instance, “badamunde” (Kannada text 2002, 37) from the source-text is translated as “Gareeb Vidhawa” (Hindi text 2001, 54). Unlike the description of the utterance in the English translation as “poor old shaven widow,” the Hindi text in its cryptic rendering brings to light the gruesome reality of a Brahmin widow’s existence to the Hindi reader. Unlike “Munde” in Kannada, the word “Vidhawa” is not an abusive word in Hindi, but it does just enough to capture the plight of a Brahmin widow. However, when a native Kannada reader reads its translation in English as “poor old shaven widow” s/he is certainly disturbed by the comic strain in the English utterance. Apart from abuse, it is very interesting to examine the translation of Sanskrit shlokas and mantras. Naranappa, who belongs to the Chaarvaaka school of thought, in one of his utterances addressing Praneshacharya justifies his way of life. It is noticeable that the word “chaarvaak” is retained from the Kannada original while Ramanujan, in his English


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translation, renders it as the “Hedonist School” (English text 2004, 21). The Sanskrit saying retained in the Hindi text is translated as, “borrow, if you must, but drink your ghee” (English text 2004, 21) in the English rendering. The disparity in the two translations is certainly interesting because it draws our attention to two fundamental issues pertaining to the translation theories. Kusanoor’s Hindi translation retains the words and utterances of the source-text as much as possible. That is, the cultural similarities between Kannada and Hindi readers are utilised to the maximum, and thereby a link is established that serves as a dialogical thread between the source language/culture and target language/culture. Such a link provides Kusanoor with a theory to translate the subtleties of Kannada culture. He has his answers ready to the questions of what to retain, what to transliterate, and what to explain. On the other hand, Ramanujan’s English translation seems to be the product of a fluent exercise of translating. The prime concern is to reach out to the demands of the target audience, specifically the non-Indian readers. He explains, elaborates and adds notes. While translating, he sometimes uses some words and expressions of the source culture as well. For example, words like agrahara, saaru, pappadam, and ghee figure at regular intervals in his translated text. On the other hand, he embarks upon explaining a word like “Rangoli” to the English readers as representing sacred designs that decorate the threshold. This act shows that he does not adhere to a common principle for translation, and that his practice of translation is not backed by a sound theory. This aspect becomes clearer when we examine the shloka uttered by Naranappa that epitomises Chaarvaaka philosophy. While Kusanoor retains the name Chaarvaaka and the shloka in his Hindi text, Ramanujan calls it the Hedonist School and even translates the shloka. What is significant is the way in which he chooses to translate the shloka. The English shloka by Ramanujan is, “borrow, if you must, but drink your ghee” (English text 2004, 21). The word “ghee” is of some significance in the context in which it appears. It is not a Kannada word. Again it is not the same word as “ghrutam” of the shloka. Certainly, it is from the Hindi language. The problem before Ramanujan is in translating a Sanskrit word into English where an exact synonym does not exist. The word “butter” would come close but would also change the meaning and significance of

Translating a Polyphonic Novel


“ghrutam.” Unlike Kusanoor, he cannot retain the Sanskrit shloka since he has embarked upon explanations for the Westerners. Therefore, he chooses the word “ghee.” What is peculiar about this act is the absence of a theoretical formulation that could help him out of the problems of translation. He neither draws the reader of the target text to the source culture, nor does he take the text with its cultural subtleties to the non-Indian reader. As a result, the dialogue he is supposed to establish breaks down and a gulf is created. A native reader who reads both the Kannada and the English translation will be able to sense this dichotomy. Ramanujan engages in the task of translation without stipulating the boundaries and the limitations of such an endeavour.

Inadequate “Heteroglossia”: The Paucity of Languages The English translation utilises a common and uniform language to convey the diverse experiences of people belonging to the different layers of the social stratification. In the English translation, the languages spoken by the Brahmins and the outcastes have many common characteristics; similarly, the speech of the villagers and the outcastes share similar linguistic traits. An urge to communicate the multifariousness of their ontological reality through a common speech medium is noticeable. Interestingly, in the Hindi translation we can identify similar tendencies with regard to the use of language. Despite the cultural affinities and linguistic similarities between Kannada and Hindi, there is no attempt to articulate the experiences of the people belonging to different social backgrounds in different languages. Linguistic differences are frozen and solidified into a common and neutral language. There are no sociolects in the text; rather, a common dialect of Hindi called “Khadi-boli” is utilised throughout. The cultural markers and the native traces are not retained but are reduced and restrained. These subtle markers come under the process of erasure and their ritualistic minutiae are eroded by a common language. Praneshacharya’s speech in the Hindi translation serves as an example in this context. There is a poise and rhythm in his utterances that are at the same time punctured by contemplative pauses at frequent intervals. The language is imbued with Sanskrit words that express a Brahmanical environment. The translation utilises a particular dialect of Hindi that is very close to the written book language called “khadi-boli.” Thus, an


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attempt to respond to the dialect spoken by Praneshacharya in the Kannada original is evident. However, such a dialogic concordance cannot be seen when we examine the speech of the outcastes and the villagers. For example, Chinni’s and Belli’s language in the original Kannada text is markedly different from Praneshacharya’s speech. But the Hindi translation presents us with a common language, thereby erasing the difference in their cultural situations. It is noticeable that the speech of Belli does not appear as the language of an outcaste. It is difficult to comprehend how Sanskrit words like “Daivi prakop,” without undergoing any linguistic change, find a place in the language of an outcaste. The speech resembles the “khadi-boli” of Hindi and no attempt to retain the linguistic diversity is undertaken. However, it is also possible to notice the use of a few Urdu words. This act nullifies the Dalit experience by equating it with the hegemonic Brahmin speech. Thus, the cultural diversity is homogenised, amounting to a monoglottic language condition in the translated text. An examination of the villager’s speech confirms the use of a common speech variety throughout the text. In the last part of the text we come across a conversation between the villager and Praneshacharya. It can be seen that the dialect used does not vary, and words like “Aagaman,” “Bhavishya,” and “vishay” are of Sanskritic origin retained in the speech of the villager. They are not in dialogic concordance with the dialect of the villager of the source-text. Also, one fails to comprehend why a villager should use such a language that is closer in tone and idiom to the hegemonic Brahmin utterances.

Dialogic Correspondence and the Dialogic Sense of Truth Like the English translation, the Hindi translation also attempts to codify the dialogic vibrations of the differentiated speech of the source-text. Though Kusanoor provides room for variations among idiolects, the sociolect used is one and the same. The choice of words does not differ, though the intonations do. Kusanoor does not provide enough scope to understand the language condition of the text in terms of utterances; rather, the monologic language used throughout minimises the pluralistic vibrations of different cultural groupings. Thus, the cultural event presented/represented by the translator by way of deploying a common

Translating a Polyphonic Novel


language nullifies the hierarchic and hegemonic implications of the source-text and curtails the dialogism of its non-monologic voices. The common language erases the native traces and unifies the “separate thoughts” of the characters present in the source-text. The multi-layered reality is reduced to a unitary truth that truncates the polyphonic appeal of the text. The voices of the text are mutilated from within and their “engagingness” is curtailed. In Bakhtin’s words: “The development of the novel is a function of the deepening of dialogic essence, its increased scope and greater precision” (1994a, 300). Such a “deepening of dialogic essence” is eliminated by the use of a common and uniform sociolect. Thus, the translated discourse is incapable of registering the shifts and changes in tone and temperament of utterances and is unsuccessful in representing and refracting the social reality of the source-text. The pluralistic truth is monologised and the artistic unity of the source-text is distorted.

Samskara in the Marathi Translation Like the Hindi translation, the Marathi translation retains merely the title Samskara; there is no subtitle to explain the significance of the term. There are no endnotes appended; nor do we find an Afterword or a Translator’s Note to explain and interpret the nuances of the sourceculture/text. Though in the Hindi translation there are a few footnotes, it is interesting to observe that the Marathi translation has dispensed with them completely. The translators R. S. Lokapur and V. G Kanitkar have themselves been creative writers, writing and translating across the boundaries of Kannada and Marathi literatures. It is therefore very interesting and intellectually rewarding to analyse their combined effort in translating the Kannada novel. The chapter and section divisions of the source-text are removed by the Marathi translators. In place of the chapters we observe conveniently divided paragraphs that have a common thrust. Also, these paragraph divisions are not the same as in the original Kannada text. Neither the English translation by Ramanujan nor the Hindi translation by Kusanoor has taken such liberties with the original Kannada text. This change in the form is significant for two reasons: firstly, it demonstrates the translators’ refusal to blindly adhere to the form of the source-text. Secondly, a creative urge that attempts not merely to translate but also to transcreate the source-text for the target audience can be seen.


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Intensified Textuality: Filtered Descriptions While the English translation elaborates the textual content and the Hindi translation avoids redundant explanations, in the Marathi text a strain to transfer the chain of meanings of the source-text without indulging in any description can be seen. The translators do not explain to their readers the subtleties of the rituals performed by the Brahmins of Durvasapura. Instead, their translation demonstrates an urge to retain the native traces. Their act of transferring the content of the source-text exemplifies Bakhtinian “active understanding,” particularly the process of “liveentering” envisaged by Bakhtin in his aesthetic and ethical discourses. They enter the source-language/culture not to lose themselves there, but to come back to their original place and accomplish the creative task at hand. Like the Hindi translation, we can observe that there is an attempt to retain the intense description of Praneshacharya’s daily routine. Redundant explanations are completely avoided; so much so that Gowri is merely mentioned to be grazing in the backyard without explaining that she is a cow. At the same time, there are a few changes in the Marathi translation. Unlike the Hindi translator who chooses to describe the body of the cow as “Romanchit Shareer,” it is interesting to notice a change in the Marathi translation where Praneshacharya’s act of touching the body produces an emotional and physical effect on the cow. Unlike the original, Hindi, and English translations where the cow is grazing in the backyard, in the Marathi translation the cow is not grazing but sitting and ruminating. This can be understood from the expression “Parsaat Ravanth Kareeth Basalelya Gowripudhe.” This demonstrates a creative urge that, without compromising with the content and significance of the original, provides the readers with an altered version in translation. This altered version is not merely a translation, but also at times shows us features of transcreation; that is, it interpolates situations and conveniently manages to convey the experience rendered in the original text in a varied manner. But what needs to be underscored here is that this variance does not wear out the dialogical relationship with the original text; rather, it strengthens it. A better example for understanding this creative impulse in translation is the passage where a myth is rendered with care and felicity of expression. The paragraph begins with a question rather than an affirmative statement. This is not the case either with the original or with the Hindi and English translations. Also, the paragraph contains more exclamatory marks than

Translating a Polyphonic Novel


the paragraph of the original text. This act demonstrates a creative urge by Marathi translators, who transform the text and interpolate it with new insights that enable the reader to understand their neighbouring culture in a more nuanced manner. Words and phrases like “Akhhyaayikaa,” “Paatraat,” and “Lahaanashi Tekadi” not only lend a native touch to the text but also produce an impressive atmosphere in which the story can evolve. Thus, myth is rendered with sensitivity and felicity. Let us now examine how abuse is rendered by the Marathi translators. Finding a corresponding abusive word that translates the inner-dialogism of the original text is certainly an arduous task for translators working across cultures. In the English translation, abuse is described rather than translated. In the Hindi translation, an attempt is made to retain the dialogicity of the original text, words of abuse appearing as diluted versions. In the Marathi translation, abusive words have retained a sharp and pungent thrust and an incisive and ludicrous bent. They are curses that warn the addressee of dire consequences and ominous designs. They have an immanent propensity to create a dialogical disturbance or a verbal duel. The abusive words describe the relationship between Garudacharya and Lakshmidevamma in dialogic terms, as the former being the perpetrator of a heinous crime and the latter as a perpetual victim of such crimes. Words like “Melyaa,” “Chandaala,” and “Raandeecha” not only respond to the corresponding Kannada abuses, but also link them with the abuses of the target culture. The word “Melyaa” is a good case in point. This abusive word is not a translation of any word from the source-text; rather, it is part of the creative exercise the translators embark on. The word is used by elderly women in Maharashtra, and it literally means “dead man.” It can be seen that the abusive words of Lakshmidevamma have an undertone of death running through them. By beginning her abuse with “Melyaa,” Lakshmidevamma in the Marathi translation sets the stage for the tirade that consists of her slanderous curses, like haunting Garudacharya after her death. By allowing “Melyaa” to be a part of the elderly woman’s abusive discourse, the translators accentuate the repetition of the death metaphor. This act clears the hurdles in the process of cross-cultural communication and enlivens the translated discourse with creative utterances.


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Corresponding “Heteroglossia”: Attempt towards Retaining the Dialogicity The different languages of a source-text have always been a problematic concern for translators. The varied speech patterns defy translation because the target language/culture may or may not have a wide range of diverse speech types. To retain the multiple cultural imprints of heteroglossia is therefore not only a difficult task but one that also calls into question the in-depth knowledge of the cultural nuances of the translators. Thus, in the Hindi and English translations, the language used is of a uniform speech type that lacks diverse cultural stratification. Though the tones vary, there is a stable coherence in the choice of words. The dialect utilised is the written language in which varied registers and cultural markers are squeezed in. Interestingly, the Marathi translation demonstrates a concern for the heteroglottic nature of the source-text and attempts to accommodate the varied speech patterns of the original Kannada text. The language of Praneshacharya is the literary dialect imbued with words from the Sanskrit language. Being the leader of the Brahmin community of the agrahara and a scholar in Vedic learning, he speaks a language that is authoritative and hegemonic. As against this language, let us examine the outcaste speech. The Marathi translators change the names of the outcaste girls from Belli and Chinni to Roopi and Soni. The translators embark upon this creative transposition of proper nouns because it allows them to relate the text to the outcaste’s condition in the target culture. The names Belli and Chinni would sound alien to Marathi readers who require names frequently used by the outcaste community in Maharashtra. By embarking upon such an act, the translators are not merely translating but also transcreating the original text. At times, we can observe that their approach tilts more towards the target community. However, they are conscious enough to come back to the source culture. This aspect becomes clearer when we examine the language of Roopi and Soni who, like Belli and Chinni of the original Kannada text, speak a dialect that is different from the speech of Praneshacharya and other Brahmins. The utterances by Soni demonstrate the prevalence of a separate speech type for the outcastes. Words that are uncommon in the elite Brahmin speech find a place in the outcaste dialect. Roopi and Soni, being situated at the margins of the social hierarchy, cannot use a language that is definitive and certain in its appeal. Rather,

Translating a Polyphonic Novel


their language is punctuated by words and expressions that are ambivalent and dubious. Being victims of social marginalisation and also victims of gender discrimination, their language is bereft of power. They speak from spaces that are peripheral and, instead of an assertion of their identity, their language brings out a lack of such an assertion. We have already observed that the source-text brings out a dialogism of languages. It presents a heteroglottic condition where a hierarchy of languages is contained, and a contest for dominance and hegemony could be ascertained among them. The Marathi translators make an attempt to dialogically reciprocate to these varied cultural languages in their translation. Thus, in certain places the Marathi translation effectively answers the inner dialogism of the languages of the original text. The translators work out a dialogic relationship between the source and target culture by placing themselves on the boundaries of the two. This makes their venture a “dualdirected-sign”; that is, both the source-culture and the target-culture find a place in their creative translation. Characters belonging to the different sections of social hierarchy are recognised and identified on the basis of the language they speak. Their languages exteriorise the social reality with a dialogical articulation of different speech types. This act not only enables linguistic expansion but also contributes towards the enrichment of the extra-linguistic features of the text, like its psychological and sociological dimensions, its contextual relevance and significance, its aesthetic importance, and its intertextual dimensions. Another aspect that acquires significance in the Marathi translation is the presence of various “socio-dialectological markers”; that is, the critical inter-animation of languages that collectively produce an ambience for different ideological systems to interact and evolve new approaches for comprehending the unfinalizability of their social world. Thus, the languages of Brahmins and the outcastes are not merely languages but also means to understand the social structures that nourish caste/class ideologies. The dialectological traces help us to locate the speaker’s rank and position in the social hierarchy and determine why s/he is oriented towards a particular ideology. This heteroglottic encounter helps us to ask certain crucial questions, like how does the speaker understand and define herself/himself given the operation of various languages in a particular social situation? How does a reader construct a dialogue between himself/herself and the speaker who


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speaks a different language in a text? More importantly, can there be a correlation between the dialogism of languages in a text and the dialogism “out there” in the “real” world?

Dialogic Improvisation and the Pluralistic Sense of Truth An attempt to achieve the “multi-languagedness” of the Kannada text by emulating the tension among characters, improvising their intentional expressions, and creating a multi-layered reality can be seen in the Marathi translation. Like the original Kannada text, the Marathi text interweaves dialogic relationships by accommodating multiple languages, consciousnesses, and truths. By incorporating verbal exchanges and the belief systems associated with them, the Marathi translation also shows the prevalence of different degrees of cultural stylisation. Truth, in its dialogic nature, cannot be captured in a single character or utterance. It needs to be identified in the continual flux and conflict, in the tension-filled environment of the text. Thus, truth is an unsorted mass of ideas and points of view that overlap and oscillate between two characters in a text, and also between the reader and the author. Dialogic heteroglossia articulates such a pluralistic truth. As Bakhtin writes: When heteroglossia enters the novel it becomes subject to an artistic reworking. The social and historical voices populating language, all its words and all its forms, which provide language with its concrete conceptualisations, are organised in the novel into a structured stylistic system that expresses the differentiated socio-ideological position of the author amid the heteroglossia of the epoch. (1994a, 300)

An effort towards achieving such an “artistic reworking” can be noticed in the Marathi translation, where languages strengthen the voices of the text by expressing varied “socio-ideological positions.” These ideological positions together create an “eventness” in the text and contribute to the tension prevailing between the different voices. Quite often, these voices attain a dialogic meeting and aggravate the operation of the centripetal and centrifugal forces in the translated text. The hegemonic Brahmins who occupy the centre and the outcastes at the periphery present us with different ideological worlds. Thus, truths that could be deciphered in the Marathi translation are not monologic truths, but are plural and dialogic, contesting and conflicting among themselves for recognition and identity.

Translating a Polyphonic Novel


Motivating the Polyphonic Variations Translations often compromise the dialogicality of the original text. With the voices losing their intensity and rigour, the polyphonic appeal is certainly diminished. This is the case not merely with the English translation, but also to a lesser degree with the Hindi and Marathi translations.9 The uniqueness of the identity of certain characters and the linguistic diversity are rendered in an annotated but less-intense version. These aspects give rise to certain questions: Why does the polyphony of the translated text behave as a subset of the polyphony of the original text? What factors operate during translation that curtail the intensity of the polyphony of the original? Does the lenient and relaxed polyphony of the translated text occur due to the translator’s incompetence or is it due to a larger cultural problematisation during the process of translation? These are complex issues that require us to conduct a macro-level enquiry into the translation situation in India.

Lack of a Dialogic Understanding Concerning the Process of Translation In the case of English translation, it is possible to identify at least two reasons for the transformation of the polyphony of the Kannada novel. Firstly, the English translation is an outcome of a non-dialogic transfer of utterances of the original text; that is, the translation is an example of a “passive understanding” of the Kannada text. The translator seems to have completely dissolved his identity in explaining to the other or the target (non-Indian) readers the subtleties of the Indian mythic and socio-religious situation. It has not been possible for the translator to avoid this dissolution of his individuality and come back to the realm of the native culture. The translation clearly brings out a lack of “active understanding” required to accomplish any creative task. In Bakhtin’s words: an active understanding, one that assimilates the word under consideration into a new conceptual system, that of the one striving to understand, establishes a sense of complex interrelationships, consonances and dissonances with the word and enriches it with new elements. It is precisely such an understanding a speaker counts on. (1994a, 282)

The translation does not seem to “assimilate the word under consideration”; that is, the original utterance. Rather, it seeks to explain the nuances of the original and attempts to construct an image of Indian traditions to the target readers. The translator does not enter into a dialogic


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relationship with the native culture but detaches his identity by preoccupying himself with the task of describing and explaining the cultural specificities to the target audience. Secondly, the translator of regional fiction into English is entrusted with the task of rendering the indigenous cultural diversity to an alien culture with a wide readership. The translator has to present the “essence of India” in the regional text to the readers, mostly constituted of Westerners. The translator enters a zone of apprehension and watchfulness to select what needs to be presented and how it should be represented in the translated discourse. Like an Indian English fiction writer, the translator of the regional fiction into English is disturbed by what Meenakshi Mukherjee calls, “the anxiety of Indianness” (2000, 166). As she writes: when it comes to English fiction originating in our country, not only does the issue of Indianness become a favourite essentializing obsession in academic writings and the book review circuit, the writers themselves do not seem unaffected by it, the complicating factor being that English is not just any language—it was the language of our colonial rulers and continues even now to be the language of power and privilege. It is not a language that permeates all social levels or is used in subaltern contexts. (Mukherjee 2000, 168)

Just like an author of English fiction from India, the translator is troubled by this obsession of presenting what is necessary for the Westerners to know about India. This act, in turn, leads to the construction of knowledge of India for the West. As Mukherjee explains: in the English texts of India there may be a greater pull towards a homogenization of reality, an essentializing of India, a certain flattening out of the complicated and conflicting contours, the ambiguous and shifting relations that exist between individuals and groups in a plural community. This attenuation may be artistically valid when the narrative aspires to the condition of allegory but for the Indian writer in English there may be other unarticulated compulsions—the uncertainty about his target audience, for example. (2000, 171–2)

This uncertainty about the target audience results in a situation where the dialogic threads interwoven in the original are undone by the translator, resulting in a depletion of the polyphonic appeal. At the same time, the translator is troubled by one more anxiety. S/he models her/his translations on the basis of certain currents in the literary field of the target language. Ramanujan, in his Translator’s Note and

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Afterword, repeatedly draws a parallel between the literary trends of the West and the Indian responses to them. In the process as a native informant, he constructs knowledge about the fictional narrative; so much so that, consciously or unconsciously, he orientalises the text. As R. Radhakrishnan writes: “Ramanujan’s characterization of the novel as allegorical and existentialist imposes, quite persuasively, on the novel a certain kind of double consciousness. Ramanujan’s critical reception of the work locates it both within its indigenous context as well as in the context of modernity” (2005, 138). This “double consciousness” is an imposition that emanates from the translator’s knowledge of the Western literary standards. The text is then identified not with regard to the innate currents of the indigenous literature, but is positioned against the Western literary canons and movements. Radhakrishnan rightly asks: “When Ramanujan invokes ‘a stereotype of what might be called Indian Village Time,’ is he really capturing the inner phenomenology of the Indian Village Time, or has he unconsciously become the mouthpiece of an unexamined Orientalism?” (2005, 139). This is a pertinent question that demands a careful investigation into the spatio-temporal dimensions of translations of regional novels into English.10

Regional Affiliations and Cultural Proximity Translation seen from a Bakhtinian angle is a process wherein the multiple voices of the source-text undergo a metamorphosis. The extent to which such a transformation occurs varies. While in the English translation the polyphonic appeal from the point of view of heteroglossia and multiple voices deteriorates to a greater extent, in the case of Hindi and Marathi translations the polyphony is not entirely diminished. There is an attempt to retain the dialogic confabulation of voices and heteroglottic event of the source-text. This is certainly because of the affinity among languages and the cultural situation. The inner dialogic threads are not tainted and disfigured. Rather, they are altered and transformed. Though the intensity and the density of the polyphonic appeal of the source-text are diffused, they are transmuted in these translations. The category of time and space when the translation is written is always different from the event of the creation of the source-text. Because of this, the translator needs to establish a dialogic bridge capable of transferring the complex linguistic and cultural significations of the source-text to the target audience. It is required that a translator keep in mind that this dialogic bridge connects the past with the present and the present with the


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future, because translation is always an “answering word” to the sourcetext, and also a word that anticipates future “answering words.” Translation being a response cannot afford to imitate the original, nor can it be detached from the original. It has to be different, but its difference should be justifiable dialogically. Another interesting concern here is that, though the translators are aware of the complexity of translating into the English language the native concerns and anxieties, the urge to convey the cultural markers appears to be disproportionately high and lopsided. This anxiety disturbs the dialogic concordance and tilts the balance unevenly, favouring the target readers. As a result, the voices of the target text are dictated by its probable readers. It is noticeable that in the case of poetry translations there is a tendency to emulate the European literary movements like romanticism and modernism/postmodernism, and while translating prose the anxiety of presenting the Indian nation to the West becomes important for the translators. In the process, these translations also strengthen certain voices of the source-text that help them to communicate the so-called essence of India and relegate other voices that are not really “necessary.” Thus, the notion of polyphony serves as an important tool for an analyser of translations. It provides a framework to understand and interpret the characteristics of the source-text, and also helps in analysing the invigoration of certain selected voices. In doing so, it helps in formulating certain theoretical postulates with regard to the translation situation at large. The objective in the present study has been to conduct a micro-level analysis by selecting a few regional poems and one regional fiction. However, at the macro-level, the transformations in the polyphonies will have ramifications in studies that are concerned with regional/national asymmetries in translations, cultural problematisations and syncretisms, textual/ideological closures, and the hybridisation of identities. The notion provokes us to ask certain pertinent questions. For example, what might be the reasons for the freezing of voices in texts that are translated in a particular historical period like the colonial or postcolonial? What centripetal and centrifugal compulsions determine the democratic assemblage of cultural voices in translated texts? Can we liberate the submerged voices in the translated texts? A clearer and deeper understanding of the notion of “polyphony” by the translators will certainly serve as an effective tool against totalitarianism, finalization, systematisation, and more importantly monologism in translations. While substantiating how a polyphonic novel differs from other

Translating a Polyphonic Novel


novels, Bakhtin says, “the affirmation of someone else’s consciousness—as an autonomous subject and not as an object—is the ethico-religious postulate determining the content of the novel (the catastrophe of a disunited consciousness)” (1984, 10). The translator who attempts to dialogically transfer the utterances of the source-text needs to understand its cultural polyphony and his/her target audience as autonomous subjects with independent consciousnesses and not as objects that are finalized entities.

Notes 1 For a deeper analysis of the different phases and trends in novel writing in Kannada see Rao (2005, 40–68). His detailed analysis traces the trajectory of the “novel” in Kannada literature by examining the Bengali and Marathi influence on the genre. According to him: “Anantha Murthy’s Samskara (1965) brought to the foreground all that was merely hinted at earlier. If one looks at this novel chronologically as one that follows in the tradition of early Kannada social novels, a number of issues raised in the early novels reverberate with contemporary meanings here” (2005, 63–4). In his view, one of the reasons why the novel generated such a frenzy in Kannada literary circles was because it raised a number of pertinent issues relevant to its times but answered none of them. 2 See also Tirumalesh (2005, 72–81), who draws a parallel between Western literary trends and the literary movements in Kannada literature. His analysis helps us understand movements like “Navodaya” and “Navya” in the history of Kannada literature as responses to the Western literary trends. Anantha Murthy is identified in the “Navya” or modernist phase. 3 Anantha Murthy strongly believes that human existence is characterised by a plurality of languages. As he writes in his article “Flowering in the Backyard” (2005, 24–39): “We live in an ambience of diverse linguistic influences wherever we may be living in India, particularly so if we live in one of the ubiquitous towns of India. One language at home, another on the streets, still another in the office of work, this seems quite usual and natural” (2005, 29). This belief of Anantha Murthy finds a reflection in most of his novels, which are heteroglottic. Diverse speech genres and multiple linguistic traits form an important concern in his fiction. 4 See Baral (2005, 199–210) for a Lacanian reading of Samskara. Providing a Lacanian angle to the transformation in the inner domains of Praneshacharya’s psychic life, Baral argues that: “The development of Praneshacharya’s character can be placed in a Lacanian trajectory where his split ego negotiates with the three registers—Imaginary, Symbolic, and the Real, deconstructing the specular and the social in a proliferation of signifiers (signifiers: unstable in nature, as the signified ‘slides’ beneath a signifier which ‘floats’) through presences and absences” (2005, 200). 5 See Rath (2005, 100–13) for an analysis of the elusive nature of the author’s voice. For Rath, the author’s voice in the novel is continuously wavering and fluctuating. In his view, it is an interesting example in understanding the free play


Chapter Five

of signifiers. The voice in question is locatable in varied realms of meaning, none of which is completely tangible. Thus, the author’s voice continuously deconstructs itself through presenting and absenting its presence in the text. 6 See Rath (2005, 100–13) for the word play in the title Samskara, which rhymes with “Shankara” and “Samsara.” 7 By highlighting a particular meaning from among the various connotations of the term “Samskara,” Ramanujam’s translation gives rise to a monologic understanding of the text. In R. Radhakrishnan’s words: “What troubles me, reading this book now in the context of the contemporary challenges to Indian secularism, is that I hear, in Praneshacharya’s waiting, the subconscious murmur, ‘The samskara is dead; but long live samskara’” (2005, 149). Though this remark is about the source-text in Kannada, it is more relevant in the context of the English translation of Ramanujam, because the subtitle seeks to emphasise the ritual for the dead. This act highlights the decadence of values as the central thrust of the source-text. 8 For a better understanding of the translation situation within India see Khubchandani (1999, 147–52). Khubchandani argues that: “Translations in many Indian languages when routed through ‘filter’ languages … are removed one or more stages from the source language; such ‘twice removed’ texts become less transparent and show the strains of ambiguity and opacity” (1999, 150). This holds true in the context of the Hindi translation of Samskara because the approach of the translator is characterised by a descriptive tendency like the English translation; and at the same time, there is an attempt towards retaining the culturally specific features of the source-text as much as possible. The English translation acts as a “filter” text for the Hindi translator. Hence, we have footnotes in some places, and yet there is no Afterword, Glossary, or Translator’s Note. Some ambiguity is noticeable in the translator’s approach. 9 See Tabakowska (1990, 71–8). Tabakowska argues that linguistic polyphony is a serious concern during translation because it is extremely difficult to retain the polyphonic vitality of the source-text: “Linguistic polyphony has an important part to play in fictional narrative, where Bakhtin first discovered its presence. The duet inevitably following from the non-identity of author and narrator turns into a trio whenever the author resorts to the celebrated style indirect libre, and into a quartet when what the narrator is made to say itself becomes a composition for two voices” (1990, 74). Any attempt towards captivating or transplanting such a “trio” leads to a loss of the polyphonic intensity. This argument is relevant in the context of the translations of Samskara since it helps us understand the difficulty in transferring the voices of the source-text. 10 See also Jalki (2005, 179–98), who argues that in the novel Samskara a critique of “brahmans” need not be generalised to mean a critique of Brahmanism. Though it is acceptable that hierarchy in the caste system leads to domination and subordination, it should also be understood that “Brahmans” alone were not responsible for such an impasse. This construction is similar to orientalist misconceptions about the Indian cultural condition. This argument is relevant in the context of the English translation as the translation represents the indictment of “Brahmans” in a more serious vein.


Modernity and “Unfinalizability”: A Dialogic Analysis Modernity, the “grand project” of the West, entered India through the leeway provided by colonialism. The tenets of modernity like industrialisation, English education, urbanisation, democracy, bureaucracy, and the concept of the nation state had to inevitably collide with the prevailing Indian ethos and social customs. The conflictual situation that arose between the native traditions and modernity has often been interpreted in terms of the Foucauldian power/knowledge tangle by postmodernists.1 This argument provides us with a view that modernity has been a destructive agent responsible for the demise of much of what we call “Indian culture.” Also, by over-emphasising the role played by vested interests in meaning construction, this approach freezes the possibility of appreciating the complex discursive network of multiple voices that the Indian situation presents. Hence, it has become crucial to rethink modernity in the Indian situation from a new perspective. This chapter seeks to explore the conflictual nature of tradition and modernity in India from Bakhtin’s standpoint. It is divided into four parts; in the first, the concern is with exemplifying how traditions of India display the features of Bakhtin’s concept “event” (1990, 189); in the second, the major issue is to unmask the dialogues that characterise modernity; in the third, the focus of the analysis is on the juxtaposition of the two with the help of a key Bakhtinian concept of “unfinalizability” (Morson and Emerson 2001, 36); and in the fourth, the theoretical position is explicated with the help of some illustrative examples from Indian literature.


Chapter Six

The “Inner Dialogism” of Tradition(s) in India At the outset, let us explore the dialogic aspects of Indian culture. A conglomeration of various traditions with different identities, ethnicities, and outlooks, Indian culture has resisted attempts that sought to finalise its identity and reduce it to a monologic entity. Though India has had a series of foreign invasions, the distinctness of its cultural mosaic did not degenerate. Any alien intrusion produced a turbulent scenario, a discursive site of “voices.” This Indian situation exemplifies the qualities of Bakhtin’s concept “event,” which we seek to analyse here. The advent of British colonialism and its aftermath in India present an interesting condition for analysis here. Colonialism, which heralded modernity in India, provided an opportunity for traditions in India to rethink their subtle nuances and fill up their lacunae.2 European modernity, with its emphasis on individualism, reason, and progress, appeared a highly promising doctrine for many of the social reformers who felt that India could achieve greater prosperity by incorporating certain ideas of the West. Opponents of European modernity disregarded this belief and claimed that the weaknesses of traditions in India could be corrected from within, without any external assistance. A clearer understanding of this situation could be had through Bikhu Parekh’s analysis. Parekh classifies Indian attitudes during the preGandhian era into four major categories: traditionalists, modernists, critical traditionalists, and critical modernists (1989, 35). Of particular interest here are the attitudes of critical traditionalists like Swami Vivekananda, Bankim Chandra, and Aurobindo, who believed that the imperfections of traditions in India could be corrected through regeneration and reform, and critical modernists like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, K. C. Sen, and Gokhale, who believed in borrowing certain paradigms of modernity and rejecting harmful tenets. As Parekh writes: The differences in the approaches of critical modernists and critical traditionalists were deep and profound. Although they often advocated the same policies and institutions, their reasons for doing so were radically different. (1989, 64)

Parekh’s analysis clearly indicates that the political positions of the reformers and thinkers set the stage for a conflictual situation—a situation where India had to introspect and awaken to the challenges of the West. The “atmic” view of human existence was pitted against the atomic view

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of man; altruism propounded by the Hindu philosophy had to answer the threat posed by the emphasis on individualism by the West; spirituality and self-sacrifice were to tackle the principles of utilitarianism. On the one hand, there was a lure of European prosperity; on the other, there was the necessity to retain and invigorate existing traditional values.3 Swami Vivekananda, in his essay “Modern India,” tries to provide a dialogic expression for this dilemma. In his words: On one side, new India is saying “If we only adopt Western ideas, Western language, Western food, Western dress and Western manners, we shall be as strong and powerful as the Western nations”; on the other hand, old India is saying, “Fools! By imitation, other’s ideas never become one’s own; nothing unless earned, is your own. Does the ass in the lion’s skin become the lion?” On one side, new India is saying “What the Western nations do is surely good, otherwise how did they become so great?” On the other side, old India is saying “The flash of lightning is intensely bright, but only for a moment; look out, boys, it is dazzling your eyes. Beware!” (1998, 77)

Though this formulation is clearly dialogic, Vivekananda’s preference for the voice of tradition is also evident. With the help of the examples discussed above, it is now possible to understand the uniqueness of Indian tradition(s) in Bakhtin’s terms. Tradition in India has displayed remarkable heteroglottic features by resisting attempts that would reduce it to a unitary and stagnant phenomenon. The tension within the Indian situation occurred because diverse traditions and their capacity to absorb or resist any intrusion in their space had made an “internal dialogism” possible (Morson and Emerson 2001, 138). In other words, there were dialogues within the traditions that, with all their collisions and contradictions, set the stage for a dialogue with the intruder. As Bakhtin writes: The word, directed towards its object, enters a dialogically agitated and tension-filled environment of alien words, value judgements and accents, weaves in and out of complex interrelationships, merges with some, recoils from others, intersects with yet a third group …. (1994a, 276)

What Bakhtin writes of the word is true of Indian tradition regarding the advent of modernity. In the above-discussed example of Swami Vivekananda, we can glimpse this “internal dialogism” where “old India” prefers to become “new India” but is suspicious of whether this new way


Chapter Six

of existence will be a cure for the inherent weaknesses. The same is true with Bikhu Parekh’s analysis, where critical traditionalists and critical modernists made a “tension-filled environment” of many voices possible. Now let us bring in Bakhtin’s concept of “event.” As Bakhtin writes: the singular world in which we create, become aware, perceive, in which we live and in which we die … [As a result of the theoretical descriptive] an act of our activity, of our experience, like a two-faced Janus, gazes in different directions; into the objective unity of the cultural sphere and into the unrepeatable unity of the experienced life, but there is no unified and singular plane where both faces could mutually define themselves. (in Morson and Emerson 1989, 8)

Borrowing this concept of “event” from Bakhtin’s aesthetic and ethical discourse will not be irrelevant here, as we can easily make out the strong parallel it exhibits with the Indian situation. “Event” for Bakhtin means a particular and irreducible entity that cannot fill structuralist paradigms of form/content or synchronic/diachronic postulates. As Michael Holquist puts it, “the event of existence is ‘unified,’ for although it occurs in sites that are unique, those sites are never complete in themselves. They are never in any sense of the word alone …” (1990, 25). The tension within Indian tradition exhibits the features of this “event.” Each response towards modernity contributed to an “event-potential,” where the self was fulfilling its task by attempting to transform itself into a conceived “new India.” The “slice of existence” (Holquist 1990, 25) in India was never complete, but was always in a state of wanting to fulfil its meaning, to explain to itself what it is and to search for an identity amidst its dilemmas and conflicts. In these conflicts we can recognise a peculiar “unification,” a non-monologic entity that we call Indian culture.

Western Modernity and the “Surplus of Seeing” Let us pause for a moment and shift the focus of our enquiry to Western modernity. As we have observed, colonialisation introduced Western modernity to the East and challenged the inviolability of its traditions. This act also implied the beginning of a cross-cultural dialogue. Here, we should differentiate between Western modernity and essentialised modernity implanted in the colonies. Gauri Viswanathan, in Masks of Conquest (1989), discusses how in the Indian situation, colonialism introduced only those parameters of modernity that could cultivate

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servants for the empire. However, we should be careful before accepting such conclusions. R. B. Pathankar, in his Marathi book Apoorna Kranti (1999), with the help of exhaustive empirical data and analysis, demonstrates how postcolonial thinkers are leading us to a finalized situation with generalised conclusions about modernity.4 In his view, the modernity that was brought to India was not a domineering and unitary doctrine, but was plural enough to accommodate and promote the interests of the people. From academics to politics and from economy to literature, Pathankar with his incisive criticism leaves no sphere untouched, and with substantive evidences shows the lacunae existing in the current theoretical trends about modernity. In a similar vein, at a theoretical level, Javeed Alam in his book India: Living with Modernity (1999) discusses what he calls the “unembodied surplus” (1999, 35) of modernity. For Alam, modernity did not exhaust all that was available in the Enlightenment thought; it encountered cultures and expanded its influence. As he writes, Contemporary modern consciousness … has through philosophical reflections and reflexive social interactions slowly developed a capacity to absorb the features which inhere in what was the unfamiliar other … We are now in a situation where the other is becoming constitutive of the self. (1999, 34)

Here, Alam engages himself with a larger philosophical issue—the other constituting the self. The modern self is not already constituted but is in the process of constitution, and the other has a major role in this task. For a clearer understanding it is advisable to bring Bakhtin in here. In Michael Holquist’s view, “self for Bakhtin is a cognitive necessity, not a mystified privilege” (1990, 22). The self is also never alone; it is defined by the other as much as the other is defined by the self. This kind of mutual recognition is possible because of a dialogue between the two. Again, consciousness is not a monologic proposition, but is always conscious of the other. Due to their unique positions, the self and the other enjoy a “surplus of seeing” (Holquist 1990, 35). This “surplus” not only signifies the possibility for a dialogue but also promotes a mutual enhancement where the self and the other are elevated to a higher plane. Both Pathankar’s and Alam’s analyses discussed above highlight this “surplus” of modernity, which enabled it to recognise and appreciate the “otherness” of its other. Hence, while colonialism and imperialism could


Chapter Six

be relegated as monologic and uni-directional, modernity was a larger project with many dimensions. It was a non-monologic entity with a unique capacity for the emancipation of humanity.

The Dialogic Encounter between Tradition(s) and Modernity in the Indian Situation After having established both Indian tradition and Western modernity in Bakhtin’s terms as non-monologic entities, let us now proceed to analyse the uniqueness arising out of a juxtaposition of the two. Various postmodernist and postcolonialist scholars have discarded the view highlighting such a juxtaposition, and in its place emphasised the role played by the power/knowledge nexus that constitutes meaning in the Indian situation. Culture is seen as the “site of the political” and the interpretation of any cultural act itself is considered a “political activity” (Niranjana et al. 1993, 6). Their discussion curtails the possibility of recognising the tensions and contradictions that are the hallmarks of Indian culture. Any creative act itself becomes political, as it either aligns with the dominant ideology or attempts to destabilise it. This Nietzschean perspective has been discarded in recent times by many critics as reductionist and subjectivist.5 We have observed that a Bakhtinian reading is possible for Indian tradition(s) and Western modernity. Indian tradition provides a very good example for what Bakhtin calls the “event of co-being,” where every moment of being is shared and meaning arises out of this “sharedness.” Any alien factor which intrudes, in the course of time, ceases to be an invading factor and starts participating in its unique “eventness.” Thus, the alien factor becomes one of those responsible for the ongoing “eventness.” The advent of modernity did not deteriorate the possibility of “eventness,” rather it contributed to the same in very significant respects. While on the one hand we have tradition as an “event,” on the other we have Western modernity’s “unembodied surplus” responsible for its expansion and influence all over the world. Modernity, in its unentrenched and unessentialised version, has a promise for progress and an encompassing outlook where any tradition could be accommodated, though with initial skirmishes and friction. As there were/are intradialogues within modernity and Indian tradition(s), the inevitable outcome was an inter-dialogue, a cross-cultural encounter. This encounter was not an ideal situation for homogenisation, nor was it a fragmented and a

Cultural Encounters and Dialogism


discontinuous stagnation, but a unique combination of both. There were conflicts, paradoxes, and syncretic tendencies that persist even today.6 Let us now bring in Bakhtin’s concept of “unfinalizability.” Throughout the Bakhtinian corpus, we come across this concept that Bakhtin uses to denote the inconclusiveness and messiness of the world. For Bakhtin, any “finalization” of the human situation is not possible because it will amount to a “theoretism” against which his philosophy revolted. To reduce a situation to a totalitarian description where meanings are constructed and where any resistance acquires political underpinnings is unacceptable to Bakhtin. According to Bakhtin, cultures understand each other, if and only if there is a dialogue between them; if both engage in the process of constituting each other. As Bakhtin writes: In order to understand, it is immensely important for the person who understands to be located outside the object of his or her creative understanding—in time, in space, in culture. (1994b, 7)

In Bakhtin’s view, this “outsideness” is responsible for a dialogic situation where the self and the other define each other. The advent of European modernity on Indian soil resulted in such an “unfinalizable” situation. If at times tradition sought to retain a monologic identity, the centrifugal forces of modernity destroyed it. And when modernity acted as a centripetal force, tradition, with its “eventness,” rendered any attempt towards a finalization fruitless. Finalization in any sense was not possible in the Indian situation because both tradition and modernity were constantly at the borders. In Bakhtin’s words: Every cultural act lives essentially on the boundaries, and it derives its seriousness and significance from this fact. Separated by abstraction from these boundaries, it loses the ground of its being and becomes vacuous, arrogant; it degenerates and dies. (1990, 274)

The concept of unfinalizability itself denounces any fixation, as Bakhtin uses it to denote and connote different meanings in different contexts. As Morison and Emerson opine: Bakhtin advances the term unfinalizability as an all-purpose carrier of his conviction that the world is not only a messy place, but is also an open place. It designates a complex of values central to his thinking, innovation, “surprisingness,” the genuinely new openness, potentiality, freedom and creativity—terms that he uses frequently. (2001, 36–7)


Chapter Six

Indian modernity is certainly the space for a cross-fertilisation of cultures that displays the implicit connotations of Bakhtin’s concept of “unfinalizability.” It is the realm for a clash of cultures bestowed with “dialogic intuition”; that is, the ability to sense the inner dialogues of others in all their unfinalizability.

Cultural Encounters in Indian Writing in English Having established Indian modernity from Bakhtin’s perspective as an unfinalizable situation, let us proceed to explicate our position with illustrative examples from Indian literature. We shall begin our analysis with a discussion of what is often called “Indian English Writing.” The act of choosing an alien language to express an experience that is native is in itself an innovative situation. This is because the writer, by adopting an alien tongue, destabilises the belief that the mother tongue is the best medium for creative expression. In Indian English writing, what have often been referred to as “an Indian sensibility,” “Indian motifs,” or “Indian themes” enter the domain of an alien environment of the English language, where ambiguity, uncertainty, and ambivalence shape literature. Hence, the task of writing in English is loaded with a kind of “tension” that contributes a new voice to the enterprise of writing itself. This tension is noticeable in the writings of many Indian English writers. For example, R. Parthasarathy, in one of his “Homecoming” poems, writes: My tongue in English chains, I return, after a generation, to you. I am at the end of my dravidic tether, hunger for you unassuaged. I falter, stumble. (Rough Passage 1977, 49)

The poet’s “unassuaged” hunger for the literature of his mother tongue acquires an “agglutinative” touch coloured by English because of his homecoming “after a generation” spent with this alien language. It is noticeable here that the poet is now equipped with a “tension” that draws many features of English, and hence his creative enterprise itself is an enriched task. This task of creative writing is similar to Bakhtin’s term “dialogized heteroglossia” (Morson and Emerson 2001, 143). In his essay “Discourse in the Novel,” Bakhtin draws our attention to a situation where “one

Cultural Encounters and Dialogism


language (and the verbal world corresponding to it)” could be regarded “through the eyes of another language” (1994a, 296). In Bakhtin’s view, this kind of “interanimation of languages” and verbal worlds associated with them challenges the inviolability of the single language and leads to an open-ended dialogic environment (for a more elaborate analysis of the use of English in Indian English Writing see sub-section 6.2). By extending and employing the heteroglottic features of the English language to narrate the experiences that spring from the non-monologic Indian culture, the Indian English writer engages herself/himself with this dialogised heteroglossia. There can be no finalization for her/his creative task, as s/he traverses two different language-worlds. Let us zero in on what is called “Indo-Anglian Fiction.” Meenakshi Mukherjee terms it “Twice Born Fiction,” quite justifiably: By designating the Indo-Anglian novel as “twice born” I have not tried to promote it to a superior caste. I find it the product of two parent traditions, and suggest that a recognition of this fact is the first step towards granting the Indo-Anglian novel its proper place in modern Indian Literature. (1974, 6)

Being a direct translation of the Sanskrit term “Dwija” used to refer to a Brahmin—because according to the scriptures a Brahmin achieves two births—the term twice born is metaphorically used by Meenakshi Mukherjee to address the two births of Indo-Anglian fiction. The term “twice-born” has a dialogic echo in the context of Indo-Anglian fiction, because it conveys the impossibility of classifying it either as completely native literature, or as the literature of the outsiders.7 Apart from the two births, the “twice-born” fiction writer is confronted with the problem of addressing a heterogeneous readership. Unlike vernacular literatures, where the writer and the reader belong to the same ethnic background, and therefore any implied suggestiveness incorporated by the author achieves its desired intention, an Indo-Anglian novelist has to explain minute details to the reader. This task demands innovative strategies on the part of the writer, involving adept skills at translating subtle nuances and speaking through gaps and silences. Quite justifiably, Meenakshi Mukherjee argues that Indian English writing is not similar to the mid-twentieth century American literature, where writers like John Updike or John O’Hara were addressing the homogenised culture of America (1977, 24).


Chapter Six

Another important feature of Indian English writing is the profound impact of modernity on the themes and techniques of novel writing. Writers like Mulk Raj Anand, Raja Rao, and R. K. Narayan worked on themes ranging from the struggle for freedom, communal problems, the exploitation of peasants and untouchables, the East-West encounter, men-women relationships, and joint and nuclear families. These themes demanded an importing of some of the tenets of European liberal humanism. Moreover, realism as a narrative technique was appropriated by the Indian authors. While liberal humanism formed the basis of Mulk Raj Anand’s novels like Untouchable (1935), Coolie (1936), and Two Leaves and a Bud (1937), a metaphysical quest for India’s identity acquired a prominent dimension for Raja Rao in his The Serpent and the Rope (1958). R. K. Narayan, with his comic spirit, switched positions by either approving or satirising the juxtaposition of tradition and modernity in his imaginary town Malgudi. Thus, like the social reformers of the nineteenth century, the Indian English novelists of the mid-twentieth century adhered to either a critical traditionalist or a critical modernist position. The literary landscape came to be inhabited by writers struck by the European influence on the native traditions, making their creative endeavour an open-ended art, or an unfinalizable project in Bakhtin’s sense. At a micro-level, this open-endedness is best exemplified by R. K. Narayan in his creation Malgudi. As is well known, Narayan’s Malgudi depicts an Indian town of the 1930s—vibrant, with deep-rooted traditional features, as well as with different elements of modernity. Thus, on the one hand, we have money-lenders, astrologers with their cowrie shells and paraphernalia, vendors of sweets and fried groundnuts, grocery shopkeepers, and hair-cutting saloons. On the other, we have a post office, a railway station, an x-ray institute, a town hall, Lawley and new extensions, and a printing press. Though people are superstitious and orthodox, radical ideas are also prevalent among Malgudians. Certainly, there is a clash within Malgudi between these two sets of values, but Narayan does not allow it to acquire graver proportions. Through his refined sense of humour and ironic commentary, he successfully creates a “tension” between tradition and modernity at Malgudi, a requirement for coexistence. The variety of themes for which Malgudi acts as the setting also exemplifies this “tension” in more evident ways. For example, by employing the myth of Bhasmasura, Narayan, in his The Man-eater of Malgudi (1961), deals with the traditional theme of the battle between good and evil. Here, the purporse of the novelist is to show how evil

Cultural Encounters and Dialogism


destroys itself. On the contrary, in novels like The Financial Expert (1952) and The Painter of Signs (1976), Narayan is concerned with vital issues like the widening gap between generations and complicated men-women relationships, respectively. These varied themes in Narayan’s oeuvre show that there is a silent revolution taking place at Malgudi—a revolution not meant to affect the total structure of Malgudi’s society, but rather a silent attempt to answer the tension arising out of the juxtaposition of two non-monologic entities of tradition and modernity. If Malgudi has an identity at all then it lies in this conflictual situation that defies any finalization. Graham Greene’s sweeping statement in his introduction to The Bachelor of Arts (1937) that Malgudi represents all of India might not be completely acceptable (Greene 1983, iii). However, it is certain that Malgudi is a small fragment of the vast macrocosm called India. In support of our view, we would like to discuss Narayan’s acclaimed novel The Guide (1958). The general notion that The Guide marks the culmination of Narayan’s creative genius has merit. The three principal characters, Raju, Rosie, and Marco, represent three different poles connected either through the bonds of tradition or through the freedom modernity allows. While Rosie’s marriage to Marco represents a traditional bond, her love affair with Raju and their living together show a non-traditional etiquette akin to the West. Rosie is caught in a rift between her duties to her husband as a traditional Indian wife and her love for Raju, who directs her towards a realisation of her individuality. The following utterance that appears in her conversation with Raju offers a glimpse of her dilemma: After all … After all … Is this right what I am doing? After all, he has been so good to me, given me comfort and freedom. What husband in the world would let his wife go and live in a hotel room by herself, a hundred miles away? (1985, 106)

Her yearning to attain a selfhood is partly realised through her talent and dedication for the classical Indian dance, and partly through her personal dilemmas. These dilemmas infuse her character with a “sustaining vitality” that defines her existence even after her separation from her husband and later from Raju. She defies any categorisation and thereby any attempt at a finalization. On the other hand, Marco, in his appearance as well as quest for knowledge, echoes some of the tenets of modernity. Through his


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contribution, he attains the position of a distinguished scholar. His aim is to spread his knowledge all over and become influential like the legendary Marco Polo. He represents modernity in its entrenched version, as a domineering ideology concerned with expansion and influence. In his portrayal, we can notice a lack of “surplus” in Bakhtin’s sense, which makes him monologic and frozen. Marco’s attitude towards Rosie is characterised by either nonchalance or possessiveness, both of which are detrimental to the process of a dialogue. His attitude signifies an attack on the inner territory of the other, and hence he becomes responsible for the split. Unlike Marco, Raju the protagonist embodies “internal dialogism,” and is a guide in more than one sense. Being a tourist guide at Malgudi he is the spokesperson of Indian culture, whereas as the liberator of Rosie he is the advocate of modernity. Also, as the spiritual guide in Velan’s village, there is a constant conflict between tradition and modernity in Raju’s inner self. The following passage from the text brings out Raju’s attachment to tradition while he is inclined to certain paradigms of modernity. Towards the end of the novel, the interview with an American film and TV show producer proceeds as follows: “How long have you been without food now?” “Ten days.” “Do you feel weak?” “Yes.” “When will you break your fast?” “Twelfth day.” “Do you expect to have rains by then?” “Why not?” “Can fasting abolish all wars and bring in world peace?” “Yes.” “Do you champion fasting for everyone?” “Yes.” “What about the caste system? Is it going?” “Yes.” “Will you tell us something about your early life?” “What do you want me to say?” “Er … for instance, have you always been a Yogi?” “Yes; more or less.” (1985, 218–19)

Though Raju is the spiritual guide to the outer world, paradoxically, in his inner world he grapples with a search to locate his identity, which keeps oscillating between the real world and the illusionary domain, the rational

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and the mythical, and the immoral and the spiritual (he confesses that he is a Yogi, “more or less”). And once he is in this “tension-filled” situation, there is no looking back and no resolution, as his life edges into different realms of tradition and modernity. The narration in the novel, which keeps shifting from the first person to the third person, provides the reader with two alternating perspectives, where the past keeps battling with the present, and the present, despite its terrible past, proceeds to a promising future. The spatio-temporal fluctuations artistically incorporated by Narayan add to the polyphonic quality of the narrative. The voices of tradition and modernity collide and contest for recognition, but the narrative testifies that neither could reign supreme and dominate the other. As A. N. Kaul writes: It is a conflict between two sets of values or aspirations, two modes of living, even perhaps two kinds of human-beings. Domestic life versus passionate love, scholar versus sadhu, the claims of duty versus the claims of art, an easy warm sociality versus a cold but correct individualism, tradition versus modernity—no matter how we phrase the various paradoxes and conflicts of attitude and motivation in the novel, the important fact is that one side in the issue is no longer treated or chimerical or illusory and the other as real. Narayan recognizes the strength and reality of each. (1977, 62)

This analysis by Kaul substantiates the creative open-endedness of the narrative. The conflict between the two sets of values juxtaposed in the novel is irreconcilable. However, tradition and modernity in the Indian context are not detrimental to each other, leading to a situation where “things fall apart.” Neither does this conflict lead to a situation where every cultural act becomes political. Rather, a better way of comprehending Indian modernity is by appreciating the “unfinalizability” of such an encounter. Indian modernity is such that no finalization has taken place in the past and perhaps will never take place in future. Apart from literature, ample instances from the arena of art, especially music and dance, could be discussed here. It has been argued that given the pivotal role that aesthetics plays in cultural analysis, it should be recognised as part of the base rather than the superstructure. Nevertheless, an attempt for the amalgamation of Western and ancient Indian aesthetics has resulted in polarities where conservative forces and dynamic interests of the masses constantly collide.


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As a result, to achieve mass appeal classical music and dance are infused with certain centrifugal forces by their major exponents, thereby challenging their centripetal natures. Two important considerations for this kind of manifestation of music and dance undertaken by stalwarts like Ravi Shankar, Zakir Hussain, and L. Shankar have been identified: to make Indian classical music easily accessible and acceptable to the Western audiences and to make it easily accessible and acceptable to a large elite audience in India, particularly the younger, musically “lay” groups, such as the students of IITs and other colleges. (Malshe 1989, 38)

Apart from throwing light on the operation of the centripetal and centrifugal forces, the analysis above also hints at the unfinalizable nature of such a collision. Neither shall the ancient aesthetic tradition collapse, nor shall it completely become Westernised, echoing some cacophony. To a certain extent, this phenomenon could be given the name “crossfertilization,” which involves borrowing from the West to avoid a confinement or a monologic existence. Hence, like the literary scene, the aesthetics landscape also exemplifies features of unfinalizability.

“Indian English” as the Site of a Cultural Encounter When a non-native or alien language trespasses on the domain of the native, linguistic and socio-cultural operations pose certain contextual and extra-linguistic problems. Over time, the intruding language influences the native languages/cultures to create a contestatory condition of disjunction and acclimatisation, which may lead to a paradoxical situation—it may continue to be the vehicle of power and hegemony, and at the same time may help the task of assimilating the voiceless in the discourse of the dominant.8 The “alien” language may finally get nativised to become a site for a cultural encounter with traces of non-nativity and nativity, culturation, acculturation and cultural transmission, and hybridisation and heterogenisation of values and practices. There is no cul-de-sac for its operation as it moves into the realm of an inconclusive future. This is precisely the case with Indian English, which not only functions as the second language in India, but has also been considered as the “associate official language” of the Republic of India.9 In postindependence India, English gained a new importance as it functioned as a vehicle for economic reconstruction, planning, and development. Different linguistic groups and regions needed a common language for policymaking, the smooth functioning of the democratic network, and interacting

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with international powers. It channelled the nationalistic euphoria and fervour, and served as an instrument to enable India’s presence in the international political and commercial spheres. It also served as a political weapon to check and contain the emergence of Hindi as the common language for official and administrative purposes, and certainly became one for the non-Hindi speaking states. Since English is a non-native language, it formed a vehicle for the equal treatment of regions and communities of India. Unlike other native languages, there is no ethnic base for English in India, and this was its most important advantage. The problem of Indian English has been investigated from various perspectives, important among which are the socio-linguistic analysis of Braj Kachru and the postmodernist study of Prabol DasGupta. The present inquiry seeks to investigate Indian English from a Bakhtinian perspective as a product of dialogization; that is, a process of dialogic confrontation of languages with varied cultural traces. The first part critically investigates the socio-linguistic and postmodernist positions propounded by Braj Kachru and Prabol Dasgupta, respectively; the second section explicates a Bakhtinian possibility of understanding Indian English.

A Critique of the Theories of “Indian English” Braj Kachru’s sociolinguistic approach is certainly a major step towards explaining the complexity of Indian English. Kachru undertakes a study that explores the modification and hybridisation of the native variety of English when it is internalised and used by Indians. He examines the process of acculturation in Indian English in a linguistically and culturally pluralistic context of India. According to Kachru: “The Indianization of the English language is a consequence of what linguists have traditionally termed interference (or transfer)” (1983, 1). By “interference” he means the influence of native languages and cultural contexts on Indian English. Indianization, for Kachru, is the nativisation of the “‘guest and friend’ as one of our own, of our caste and tradition” (1983, 2). Kachru’s analysis brings to light the impossibility of a single, homogenised Indian English. By highlighting the cultural variations in the Indian usage of English, Kachru shows the impossibility of a standard Indian English language. Kachru proceeds to identify the three parameters responsible for such variations: region, ethnic group, and proficiency (1983, 70). These parameters allow him to locate what he terms, “a cline of Englishes in India ranging from educated Indian English to varieties


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such as Babu English, Butler English, Bearer English and Kitchen English” (1983, 70). He examines the presence of “Indianisms” in the “cline of Englishes” in India, and investigates their functional and contextual relevance.10 Kachru’s analysis becomes problematic when he attempts to decode the rules that underlie the Indian usage. Through a survey of Indian English, he proceeds to present a grammar that would lay out a set of guidelines to determine the Indian collocations and idioms. He seeks to uncover the lexical innovations by locating their cultural contexts and by identifying certain cultural factors. For example, in his study of the educated English in India, Kachru shows the stylistic, systemic, and phrase-level clause structure and interrogative constructions. With the help of an excerpt from Raja Rao’s Kanthapura (1938), Kachru explains how an Indian English user uses complex noun phrases and verb phrases along with long sentences. He is quick to point out the limitations of this usage: “One cannot generalize, since R. K. Narayan’s style is the opposite of Raja Rao’s. But stylistic characteristics do not have to be uniform: generalizations are indicative of tendencies” (1983, 78). What is missing in this analysis is a recognition of the open-ended potential of Indian English that defies rigorous contextualisation. Though he is aware of the contradictions within a “cline” of Indian English, his attempt to unravel certain tangible norms of usage confines his approach and renders it monologic. Kachru rightly identifies the existence of many “tendencies,” but the point that acquires significance is that these tendencies are so varied that a sociolinguistic profile fails to explain their dialogic oppositions and amalgamations. Kachru’s analysis seems to have missed the inconclusive surge of these clines into other domains. These tendencies are always in a state of flux, a tension-filled environment, which makes them trespass the boundaries of their articulation. Another problematic area is Kachru’s marginalisation of what may be called the “extra-linguisticity” of Indian English. There is an “innerdialogization” and “double voicedness” in the Indian usage of English, which arise due to the co-existence of different value systems. Kachru, in his attempt to demonstrate the “code-switching” and “code-mixing” processes, defocusses these metalinguistic aspects. Further, the notion of “code,” which resonates with Jakobsonian implications, provides us with a reductionist approach to study the dynamics of Indian English. To quote Bakhtin: “A code is only a technical means of transmitting information; it does not have cognitive, creative significance. A code is a deliberately

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established, killed context” (1994b, 147). We must remember here that context for Bakhtin is a “lived event.” Probal Dasgupta elaborates another important perspective on Indian English. He attempts to show the presence of English in India as an “Auntie Tongue,” which: resonates with the old and unresolved ambivalence about our relationship with life-giving Mother India vis-à-vis our technological life-support systems associated with Aunt Victoria (who had been Queen of England and Empress of India) and with her equally prissy and technologically tough-minded successor Uncle Sam. (1993, 61)

In his view, the meaning of English in India should not be considered as having an “independent referential potential.” Rather, it should be analysed with reference to its meaning in its “native habitat.” This leads Dasgupta to argue that, since India does not own English, it has to pay “the equivalent of rent to its metropolitan owners” (1993, 48). For Dasgupta, the “otherness” of English acquires crucial importance because it is a constructed otherness by the non-metropolitan communities themselves. In his view, as against the metropolitan “English self,” the non-metropolitan communities use an “other-English” that has an “auxiliary status.” The non-metropolitan communities sustain this otherness by constructing differentiations that ratify the auxiliary status. As English in India belongs to this non-metropolitan domain, Dasgupta argues that it has an “instrumental” presence. Under the British it was the vehicle of power that facilitated administration, and in the postindependent India, it is a means for achieving personal ends. Hence, Dasgupta argues that, “… the presence of English in India, for all its superficial quantity, is a purpose bound presence, not a free existence that truly taps the normal range of human-expression” (1993, 112). Later, in his essay titled “Resisting Industriality” (1995), Dasgupta writes: “English is for Indians a loan language, not a turf language” (1995, 73). That is, English is a borrowed language and is not one of the native languages of India.11 But Dasgupta also recognises the presence of certain “re-turfed Indians” who spend time with English and metropolitan societies. These “re-turfed Indians,” according to Dasgupta, form a “culturally sterile” ghetto. The literature written by this ghetto is given the name “Indian English Creative Writing,” which, according to him, is a completely dependent writing, having nothing specific to do with the


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realities of the Indian situation. It is not an autonomous literature as it functions merely as a subtext to the existing English literary discourses. As against this, Dasgupta also recognises what he calls the “instrumental use of English” by Indians. By instrumental use he means the use of English “from politics through advaita and scientific contributions” by people like M. K. Gandhi, Dadabhai Naoroji, M. N. Roy, and C. Dutt who used English as a loan language to achieve certain instrumental ends (1995, 74). They utilised English as a language with a telos, and therefore their use cannot be categorised as belonging to a “culturally sterile” ghetto. In Dasgupta’s view, translations from Indian turf languages can serve as “original” creative writing in English, since translations into English underscore this instrumental use. The use of English mainly for business, jobs, and commercial ends leads Dasgupta to emphasise the role played by “industriality” in postindependence India. Industriality has given rise to a situation he terms “lumpenism” (1995, 76). In his words, in the Indian situation, “managerial industriality becomes a way of life which inherits, and rather brutally reaffirms, the imperial primacy of the technical over the cultural posited already in the classical syntheses of modernism” (1995, 76). In his opinion, this prioritisation of the technical over the cultural will give rise to a truncated version of knowledge, hamper scientific spirit, and dictate the terms in which the youth are to be educated and modernised. Hence, the task before an English teacher is to resist the tendencies of industriality that create sterile ghettoes in academics and creative writing. This can be done through a process which Dasgupta terms “active abdication.” As he writes: “My claim is that English, inheriting the scholarly mantle of Sanskrit, has done far too much teaching, and must learn how to abdicate. The ways of active abdication have to be negotiated by those who undertake it” (1995, 76). For Dasgupta, the teachers of English in India have a great responsibility as they are entrusted with the task of utilising and relativising English for creative as well as academic interests. This will not only help to reduce the gap between the “superior knowledge” in English and all the other knowledge that is not available in English, but will also slowly help in abdicating English. Dasgupta’s position could be termed as postmodernist as it focuses on the process of othering in the non-metropolitan discourses and attempts to explain the mechanisms of hierarchy and power. However, his position invites a critical interrogation. Dasgupta’s compartmentalisation of

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metropolitan and non-metropolitan Englishes does not take into account the metamorphosis of the non-metropolitan Englishes in the present-day global scenario. To accord the non-metropolitan Englishes an “auxiliary status” is again to construct a hierarchy and to perpetuate their peripheral positions. Dasgupta’s analysis does not recognise the subversive potential of these non-metropolitan Englishes that carnivalise the dominant centre. Their “otherness” acquires the status of a dialogical counterpart and not merely a subsidiary and hierarchically inferior other. Further, in his preoccupation with the notion of “otherness,” Dasgupta discards the prevalence of a dialogue between what he terms as the “English-self” and the “otherEnglish” speaking communities. There is a dialogic confrontation, a cultural encounter between the two, which gives rise to a mutual “give and take.” For these reasons, his understanding could be termed a finalized enquiry providing us with a singular perspective. What becomes important is not just “otherness” but also the “outsideness” of that otherness. As Bakhtin writes: “In order to understand, it is immensely important for the person who understands to be located outside the object of his or her creative understanding—in time, in space, in culture” (1994b, 7). Bakhtinian outsideness helps us to construct a bridge between the self and the other and makes possible a creative understanding of the otherness. Dasgupta’s formulation is problematic for a few reasons. Firstly, let us examine his views from a literary standpoint. It is not possible to discard “Indian Creative Writing in English” as a “culturally sterile” ghetto, because the creative potential in this area has demonstrated groundbreaking output in recent times. If it were as sterile as Dasgupta envisions it, then all so-called postcolonial literatures would be merely lifeless writing. What Dasgupta fails to explain is how Indian Writing in English is not an “instrumental use” of English. Why should we group political, philosophical, and scientific discourse as “instrumental use” and discard creative writing as belonging to a sterile ghetto? Secondly, from a sociological perspective there are some grey areas in Dasgupta’s analysis. Resisting industriality directly implies resisting urbanisation, which in turn would mean restricting the spread of metropolitan culture. In a globalised scenario this is impossible, because the present-day world is one where resisting and restricting what is freely floating and easily available are futile. Any society that embarks upon


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restricting its international trade and confining and demarcating its knowledge transactions will soon find itself in a pathetically dangerous development condition. Again, in the globalised world the technical and the cultural cannot be viewed as opposition. Globalisation is certainly the opening up of the economic and the cultural gates for new innovations through mutual collaboration. Therefore, to understand the situation as a lopsided one where the technical takes primacy over the cultural is a formulation that comes out of a redundant anxiety.

Dialogization in Indian Writing in English Indian English cannot be viewed as a single language with a hegemonic and dominating thrust. Rather, in the Bakhtinian sense, it is a “tensionfilled environment” of contradictions, contestations, and assimilations. It is a dialogically agitated condition of heteroglossic forces that resist homogenisation. It is the arena for the operation of “a dialogue of languages.” In Bakhtin’s words: A dialogue of languages is a dialogue of social forces perceived not only in their static co-existence, but also as a dialogue of different times, epochs and days, a dialogue that is forever dying, living, being born, co-existence and becoming are here fused into an indissoluble concrete unity that is contradictory, multi-speeched and heterogeneous. (1994a, 365)

Indian English, being a conglomerate of sub-varieties like Hinglish, Tinglish, and Kinglish at a regional/cultural level, and Babu English, Butler English, and Educated English at a socio-economic level, demonstrates the Bakhtinian condition of “a dialogue of languages.” English in India is the contested space of friction and struggle among the varied native markers. It is also the contact zone of mutual exchange and an arena for cultural identities to overlap and become hybrid identities. Paroo Nihalani et al., in the introduction to Indian and British English (1977), attempt to identify the origins of the “idiosyncrasies” of Indian English. In their view, the peculiarities of Indian usages can be attributed to three different sources: the older usage of British English, which has now disappeared from native English but retained in Indian English; the influence of Indian mother tongues; and the influence of US English. However, they are aware that these are but some sources among many, which are always instrumental in altering the operative dynamics of Indian English. As they rightly point out:

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The main point is that not only are all languages continuously changing— all varieties of a particular language are continuously changing too. In some areas of the language one variety may be more conservative than another: in other words, the same variety may show greater innovative power. (1987, 6)

For them, Indian English has demonstrated an innovative expansion to represent the messy “Indian reality.” It has widened its potential by embarking on creating new English forms. Let us examine two examples, one from prose and the other from poetry. In Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan we come across the following conversation on the train: “What honourable noun does your honour bear?” “My name is Iqbal.” “May your Iqbal (fame) ever increase.” The man had obviously taken him to be a Muslim. Just as well. All the passengers appeared to be Muslims on their way to Pakistan. “Where does your wealth reside, Babu Sahib?” “My poor home is in Jhelum district.” Iqbal had answered without irritation. The answer confirmed the likelihood of his being Muslim: Jhelum was in Pakistan. (in Mehrotra 1998, 21–2)

A similar example can be seen in R. Parthasarathy’s poem “What is Your Good Name, Please?” What is your good name, please? I am remembering we used to be neighbours in Hindu Colony ten fifteen years before. Never mind. What you do now? You are in service, isn’t it? I am Matric fail. Self-employed. Only last year I celebrated my marriage. It was inter-caste. Now I am not able to make the two ends meet. (in Mehrotra 1998, 25)

The juxtaposition of the two examples throws light on certain key aspects. It is noticeable that both examples are about the initial greetings Indians share when they meet their countrymen. The extreme politeness is noticeable in phrases like: “What honourable noun does your honour


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bear?”, “my poor home,” and “your good name, please?” The tautological and inquisitive questions, apart from exemplifying the attitudes of Indians, also throw light on their cultural identities. The two examples show different native markers. While in the example from Khushwant Singh the influence of Urdu and Hindustani is noticeable, Parthasarathy’s poem demonstrates the Dravidian traces in Indian English.12 There is a subtle inner-dialogism and double-voicedness in the utterances. For example, in the utterance “What honourable noun does your honour bear?” we can observe an Indianism (“honourable noun” for name) and a native expression (“your honour”) used together to convey a sense of deep respect for the educated Indian. Thus, there is a tension, an innerdialogism in the utterance. The line: “Now I am not able/ to make the two ends meet” from Parthasarathy’s poem is double-voiced. The idiom “make the two ends meet” means to be financially capable to manage the problems at hand. The persona retains this meaning, and at the same time adds a new dimension. The fact that his marriage was inter-caste throws new light on the expression “two-ends,” which is also used to refer to the two ends represented by the husband and the wife, and probably the two different castes. Thus, we can ascertain the presence of two semantic intentions: the meaning as the native speakers use it with its material connotation, and an Indian dimension that adds socio-cultural connotations of conjugal and caste relations. The presence of these extra-linguistic features in Indian English draws our attention to what Bakhtin terms “images of languages”: The dialogic contrast of languages (but not of meanings within the limits of a single language) delineates the boundaries of languages, creates a feeling for these boundaries, compels one to physically sense the plastic form of different languages. (1994a, 364)

The example discussed above exhibits the presence of images of languages in Indian English that constantly operate to expand their outer boundaries. The socio-linguistic and postmodernist/postcolonialist approaches have not paid sufficient attention to the operation of such plasticity in Indian English.13 This plasticity does not arise out of a dialectical opposition between the native experience and an alien language. Rather, it depends on a dialogical confrontation between ethno-deviant languages and culturally specific meanings. Such plasticity is responsible for the prevalence of the Bakhtinian condition of a “dialogized heteroglossia”; that is, regarding, “one language

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(and the verbal world corresponding to it) through the eyes of another language” (Bakhtin 1994a, 296). This is a condition where languages engage themselves in a dialogue and demolish any conception of superiority. As Morson and Emerson describe: When this happens, the value-systems and world-views in these languages come to interact; they “interanimate” each other as they enter into dialogue. To the extent that this happens, it becomes more difficult to take for granted the value system of a given language. (2001, 142)

The dialogue of languages within Indian English allows for a mutual exchange of worldviews. Due to the prevalence of “outsideness,” that is, each language dialogically reciprocates the other language because it is located outside the other language, and the languages become more selfconscious and start acquiring higher levels of dialogicity. The images they carry grow in strength and vitality and transform themselves into what Bakhtin calls “speech genres.” By “speech genres” Bakhtin means the “relatively stable types” of utterances used by speakers that reflect “the specific conditions and goals” of linguistic areas (1994b, 60). In Bakhtin’s view, to command a language would always imply a mastery over its speech genres. Speech genres, for Bakhtin, are not merely linguistic categories, but are “congealed events” of life and behaviours of the speech communities that speak them. Each speech genre is different from the other not in kind, but in degree of crystallisation. Indian English exhibits various speech genres with unformalisable cognitive content acquired through indigenous and alien value systems. However, they are not the same as Kachru’s “cline of Englishes,” since the concept of a “cline” as illustrated by Kachru seems to involve sociocultural hierarchies of a synchronic kind. As a result, the processes of mutual absorption and relative stabilisation of the different utterances within the temporally evolving domain of Indian English do not get sufficient attention in Kachru’s approach. As speech genres are always in a state of slow temporal transition, they help us to capture the flux and changes in the social lives of their speakers. Understanding the subvarieties of Indian English as speech genres is certainly a step ahead of Kachru’s categorisation, because generic analysis will be able to explain the differentiations that grow from a particular sphere of linguistic and social activity that later develop and become more complex processes. Is it possible to identify speech genres in Indian English? Within the literary domain of Indian Writing in English, it is possible to identify the


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prevalence of such speech genres. The following example from Raja Rao’s The Serpent and the Rope (1960) shows a blend of Indian metaphysical spirit and spiritual quest in a Western locale. The description and conversation between Ramaswamy and Savithri is punctuated by several Indian collocations that create an extra-mundane world. At the same time, we can observe that Rao’s language is also indebted to the British usages: As we wandered down the streets, Piccadilly with its many colored lights, the Tube entrances and the bus queues gave us a sense of reality. Finally I took her to some women's hostel off Gower Street—where she always had rooms reserved for her and where she was looked after by her friend Gauri from Hyderabad, round as Savithri herself, but loquacious, big and protective. I was always so afraid of Savithri getting lost. It was not only a matter of bringing back her glasses or pen, but one always felt one had to bring Savithri back to Savithri. "Ah, I am very real," she protested. "And tomorrow you will see how clever I am at taking buses. I'll jump into a 14 at Tottenham Court Road and be in Kensington at ten precise," she promised as I left her. I knew that at ten she would still be talking away to Gauri about some blouse pattern or somebody's marriage in Delhi. I knew I would have to telephone and ask her if she knew the time. "I promise you, you need not telephone. Tomorrow I will be punctual as Big Ben." With Savithri the profound and the banal lived so easily side by side. I touched her hand at the door, to know I could touch her, and carried the feel of it home. It was like touching a thought, not just a thought of jug or water, or a pillow or a horse, but a thought as it leaps, as it were, in that instant where the thought lights itself, as the meteor its own tail. I felt it was of the substance of milk, of truth, of joy seen as myself. Next day, when I was washed and dressed and had meditated and rested— I was in a muslin dhoti and kurtha—there was still no sign of Savithri at ten or at ten past ten. Not long after, she entered in a South Indian sari of a color we in Mysore call "color of the sky," with a peacock-gold choli, and a large kumkum on her forehead. She looked awed with herself, and full of reverence. As I went to touch her I refrained—something in her walk was strange. (1960, 209–10)

Rao’s language reverberates with sublime and transcendental echoes. The transcendental fervour and the incorporeal dimensions that can be noticed in his English constitute a speech genre in themselves. His English presents a synthesis of spiritual fermentation in a cosmic realm with an aesthetic expression of human sufferings. In his language, we can observe

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a space for the other without completely merging the other’s unique characteristics in the domain of the self. As R. Parthasarathy writes: When a non-native English writer, such as Rao, chooses this specific genre rather than one that is traditional to his own culture—the epic, for instance—and further chooses to project this genre in a second language, he takes upon himself the burden of synthesizing the projections of both cultures. Out of these circumstances, Rao has forged what I consider a truly exemplary style in South Asian English, in fact in World English, literature. He has, above all, tried to show how the spirit of one culture can be possessed by, and communicated in, another language (1998, 9).

Another interesting example from Indian Writing in English is the language used in the novel English August: An Indian Story (1988) by Upamanyu Chatterjee. The English used in the novel is a mixture of Indian slang and abusive English words carefully juxtaposed to highlight the kind of cross-fertilization seen in Indian English. The novel throws light on the educated Indians’ informal use of English—a speech genre which is selfreflexive, witty, and critical. The Indian Agastya Sen is transformed into English August by the compulsions of modern bureaucracy and political adversities. To quote an instance from the novel that demonstrates the selfcritical use of Indian English: Dhrubo exhaled richly out of the window, and said, “I’ve a feeling, August, you’re going to get hazaar fucked in Madna.” Agastya had just joined the Indian Administrative Service and was going for a year’s training in district administration to a small town called Madna. “Amazing mix, the English we speak. Hazaar fucked. Urdu and American,” Agastya laughed, “a thousand fucked, really fucked. I’m sure nowhere else could language be mixed and spoken with such ease.” The slurred sounds of the comfortable tiredness of intoxication, “‘You look hazaar fucked, Marmaduke dear.’ ‘Yes Dorothea, I’m afraid I do feel hazaar fucked’—see, doesn’t work. And our accents are Indian, but we prefer August to Agastya. When I say our accents, I, of course, exclude yours, which is unique in its fucked mongrelness—you even say ‘Have a nice day’ to those horny women at your telephones when you pass by with your briefcase, and when you agree with your horrendous boss, which is all the time, you say ‘yeah, great’ and ‘uh-uh’.” “Don’t talk shit,” Dhrubo said and then added in Bengali, “You’re hurt about your mother tongue,” and started laughing, an exhilarated volley. (1998, 1–2)


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The liberty enjoyed by the Indian speakers of English is brought out in the passage above. The flexibility for intermingling accents, words, and their semantic signification is exhibited and at the same time criticised. The example above is interesting as it celebrates this flexibility and laments the lack of a formal structure in the Indian usage. The example also brings out the Indian English morphology, which is very creative and imbued with Hindi morphemes. Thus, it demonstrates the prevalence of a separate language stratification or speech genre in the Bakhtinian sense. Salman Rushdie, on the other hand, in his writings provides us with a genre of Indian English that, apart from maintaining a uniqueness of its own, also caricatures the Indian usage. An undercurrent of mockery runs through Rushdie’s English, which destabilises the fixities of grammar and pronunciation. Rushdie speaks with a forked tongue, a hybrid language imbued with carnivalesque humour. The linguistic virtuosity of Rushdie can be ascertained from the following example. In The Moor’s Last Sigh, a drunk Vasco Miranda, addressing a few people on the night of India’s independence, says: “What are you all so pleased about?” he shouted, swaying. “This isn’t your night. Bleddy Macaulay’s minutemen! Don’t you get it? Bunch of English-medium misfits, the lot of you. Minority group members. Squarepeg freaks. You don’t belong here. Country’s as alien to you as if you were what’s-the-world lunatics. Moon-men. You read the wrong books, get on the wrong side in every argument, think the wrong thoughts. Even your bleddy dreams grow from foreign roots.” … “Circular sexualist India my foot. No. Bleddy tongue twister came out wrong. Secular-socialist. That’s it. Bleddy bunk. Panditji sold you that stuff like a cheap watch salesman and you all bought one and now you wonder why it doesn’t work.” (Rushdie 1996, 165–6).

Thus, what presents itself as Indian English may be viewed as an arena for a “spectral dispersion” (Bakhtin 1984, 187) of meanings that disseminate values and practices of one culture to another. Indian English is susceptible to the effects of centripetal and centrifugal forces of language/culture that create a dialogic flux. It is a non-monologic language condition that is densely crowded with the intentions of various cultural practices both within and without.

Cultural Encounters and Dialogism


Notes 1

See Niranjana et al. (1993, 1–14). The influence of Foucault’s postulates is evident in their analysis. 2 See Chatterjee (1986, 30–48) for an analysis of nationalist thought after the uprising of 1857. 3 See Sumit Sarkar’s book Modern India 1885–1947 (1985, 1). Sarkar argues that the period between 1885 and 1947 is “grievously incomplete” in Indian History. As he writes: “The sixty years or so that lie between the foundation of the Indian National Congress in 1885 and the achievement of independence in August 1947 witnessed perhaps the greatest transition in our country’s long history. A transition, however, which in many ways remains grievously incomplete …” (1985, 1). This understanding helps us to view the “event” of coloniality in the Indian situation as incomplete and unfinalized. 4 Pathankar holds the view that the postcolonial thinkers under the influence of the postructuralist theorists are providing us with a fragmented version and an essentialised interpretation of Indian Modernity. For Pathankar, the colonial intentions were not really as barbaric as they have been made out to be. 5 See Devy and Dallmayr (1998, 12). 6 See Pandya, Sudha, and Kar (2001, 14). 7 See also Mukherjee (2000, 1–29), who argues that both Victorian pulp and prescribed novels which formed the canon had a profound impact on the early English novels written in India. 8 See Griffiths’s article “The Myth of Authenticity” (1994, 21–45) where Griffiths argues how “appropriation” of the English language in the once-colonised countries has helped in a mutual assimilation. 9 See Govt. of India’s “Three Language formula” (1984, 12–22). 10 For a survey of the influences on Indian English see the online article 11 See Dasgupta (2005, 42–56), where Dasgupta draws our attention to translation in the Indian situation and the cognitive revolution. This becomes relevant in the context of Indian English because the act of cognising meaning in Indian English is in effect a translation of the native markers. 12 See the online article by Baldridge titled “Linguistic and Social Characteristics of Indian English,” /baldridgeindianenglish.html. 13 See the online article by Das (2005) titled “Inglish as She Spoke,”, where Das demonstrates the prevalence of Hinglish and Inglish with interesting instances. This article brings out the plasticity in the Indian usage.


To translate is to enter the domain of uneven worlds, because two cultures/languages can never be the same.1 To put them on an even platform to make a cultural transaction possible is not only a difficult task, but also amounts to what George Steiner terms as “semantic dissonance” (1975, 240). As Steiner writes: “Because all human speech consists of arbitrarily selected but intensely conventionalized signals, meaning can never be separated from expressive form. Even the most purely ostensive, apparently neutral terms are embedded in linguistic particularity, in an intricate mould of cultural-historical habit” (1975, 240). In a world of multiple languages and cultures, the peculiarities and unique characteristic features of a particular culture have to be taken across its own boundaries. Thus, translation is a process of reflection on how a particular text, with its cultural and linguistic ingredients, carries itself to the target readers. Not only does a representation of the source-text and its author’s intentions become important in translation, but also the translator’s self-presentation, that is her/his creative incorporation of utterances that are capable of conveying the experience of the original, acquires significance. The problem of cultural untranslatability has to be tackled not by completely “rewriting” a new text that has little in common with the source-text, but by a “dialogical reciprocation” of the utterances and the extra-linguistic dimensions of the source-text. Arguably, this dialogical reciprocation arises out of a continuous tension between the heteroglottic and metalinguistic characteristics of the source and the target languages/cultures. A translator has to begin with an a priori consideration that every language is heteroglottic and the task of the translator is to respond to this heteroglottic nature of the source, as well as the target-language/culture. As Bakhtin writes:

Conclusion or Anti-Closure


The novelist working in prose (and almost any prose writer) takes a completely different path. He welcomes the heteroglossia and language diversity of the literary and extraliterary language into his own work not only not weakening them but even intensifying them (for he interacts with their particular self-consciousness). It is in fact out of this stratification of language, its speech diversity and even language diversity, that he constructs his style, while at the same time he maintains the unity of his own creative personality and the unity (although it is, to be sure, the unity of another order) of his own style. (1994a, 298)

A dialogical reciprocation in translation would mean not merely retaining the heteroglottic condition and “language diversity” of the source-text without “weakening” them, but intensifying them in the translated text. The cultural markers and the ideological load are not to be silenced, but their accents, tones, and intentions are to be maintained and strengthened by utilising a new creative style. Therefore, a translator in the Bakhtinian sense is no different from a prose writer, because just like a prose writer a translator has to respond to the “socio-ideological cultural horizons” (Bakhtin 1994a, 299) of her/his times. In fact, a translator’s task is even more complicated because s/he has to compose an “answering word” that reciprocates the “socio-ideological cultural horizons” of both the sourcetext and the target readers. Hence, a translator has to establish a “dialogical triangle” between herself/himself, the source-text, and target readers which would help her/him to orchestrate the linguistic vibrations and cultural nuances of the source-text for the target readers.2 Our analysis of the translations of Samskara helped us understand the presence and absence of such a dialogical reciprocation. The Kannada text is not only heteroglottic, but by presenting an assemblage of multiple viewpoints about the world, the text demonstrates characteristic features of the Bakhtinian polyphonic novel. The English, Hindi, and Marathi translations respond to this “polyphonicity” in ways that are different. When the source-text is carried across the linguistic and cultural boundaries of Kannada language/culture, the text is appropriated, transcreated, and re-written. At times, the form undergoes a change and the semantic implications are manipulated by the translators. In a Bakhtinian framework, Ramanujan has not been able to establish a dialogical triangle between himself as a translator, the source-text, and the target readers. This act demonstrates a “passive understanding” where Ramanujan is lost in the act of conveying the multilayered significance of the source-text. An English reader who cannot read the text in the original Kannada language would not be able to recognise the gaps and silences of


Chapter Seven

Ramanujan’s translation. S/he would consider the translation to be the original text. An analyser of translations who can respond to Kannada linguistic and cultural minutiae can make out the differences. However, Ramanujan’s translation also raises a plethora of questions about translating a regional text into English. How are we to translate our culture into a globally dominant and hegemonic language like English? Unless a particular cultural act is explained, how will the target reader become aware of it? If explanations dilute and conflate the dialogical density of the source-text, then what alternative methods should a translator employ? In other words, how to translate without interpreting the source-text? It is extremely difficult to tackle these issues. The intentions of the author and the translators are certainly not identical. While the author writes for their native audience and enjoys a sense of sharing their knowledge about their own culture, the translator is entrusted with the task of bridging the gap between the two cultures and languages. They are two different domains, two separate worldviews. To use Michael Holquist’s phrase, they demonstrate an “asymmetric dualism” (1990, 19); that is, they provide us with two uneven planes, two different discursive situations. Also, these two planes overlap, but the degrees of overlapping vary in the English, Marathi, and Hindi translations. It is noticeable that, in the case of the Hindi and Marathi translations, the asymmetry of the dualism is not very acute. We can attempt to answer the questions we have raised by bringing in Bakhtin’s notion of “architectonics” and applying this concept to the process of translation.3 What is expected from a translator is to understand the “architectonics” of translation; that is, “the science of relations” (Holquist 1990, 29). In Holquist’s words: Architectonics is like architecture insofar as it is about building wholes through the manipulation of relations between parts. But architecture suggests the creation of static structures. The matter of architectonics is active in the sense that it is always in process (architecture is only one instantiation of architectonics, and aesthetics, as we shall, see is another)—not in any of the actual materials it employs to erect relations in themselves exclusively, even though such materials may be the most abstract categories, such as “being” or “relation” itself, they can still be treated as entities. (in Bakhtin 1990, xxiii)

The architectonics of translation would involve a translator building her/his relations with the source-text and target readers. It necessitates a translator defining her/his relationship with respect to native traditions,

Conclusion or Anti-Closure


and linguistic and cultural nuances of both the source- and target-cultures. S/he should determine the ratios and proportions of distance and proximity to the two cultures. In Bakhtinian terms, the “I” and “You” of the two cultures/languages and the distance between the two need to be clearly gauged and understood before undertaking the task of translation. Such architectonics will not only help the translator to inquire into the subtleties of self/other, time/space, and text/context, but it will also help her/him to spell out the principles that govern the relations between author and translator, source-text and translator, and translator and target reader. Again, the architectonics of translation requires the construction of “ratios of otherness”; that is, the translator, being the centre of activity, should define her/his relations with respect to all those characteristics that are part of the source-text and target readers. These ratios will provide a theoretical framework that helps the translator to not lose sight of either the sourceculture or the target-culture. These ratios help a translator to make sense of the world by identifying her/his position and giving a shape to its continuous flux by providing a meaning to it. Translation then becomes an aesthetic activity, a creative act, and not merely involved in an “ideal mimesis.” Ramanujan’s translation of the Kannada novel demonstrates the lack of such ratios of otherness. He is responding to the “other” and not to the “otherness” of the “other”; that is, through translating the source-text he situates it in the domain of the target reader and thereby freezes the language condition and the cultural markers. If we were to draw an analogy from geometry, it appears that there is no dialogical triangle in his translation, but there are two parallel straight lines that do not meet. However, though not ideally dialogical translations, the Hindi and the Marathi translations demonstrate varied degrees of dialogical reciprocation to the source-text (more so in the case of the Marathi translation). It is arguable that the translators in the case of the Hindi and Marathi languages have defined their “ratios of otherness” with regard to the source-text. Consciously or intuitively, they seem to have an “architectonics” ready for the task at hand. For instance, they know the heteroglottic vibrations of the source-text and are aware that they have to respond to this linguistic diversity in some way or another. Though not completely successful, they attempt to modify the choice of words when different characters belonging to the different rungs of social hierarchy speak. There is an element of “answerability” in their translation (Bakhtin 1990, 1). They are attempts towards composing responsive utterances that


Chapter Seven

interweave the source-text in the domain of their respective target cultures. It is not possible to idealise them as examples of dialogical aesthetics, but it is impossible to overlook their attempt at a dialogical reciprocation towards the source-text and target readers. However, the notion of architectonics of translation and how it would make translations more answerable to the source-text and target readers invite certain crucial questions. What are the principles that guide an architectonics of translation? Is this notion merely a theoretical construct or can we find a practical use for such architectonics? More importantly, how is Bakhtinian architectonics different from other prescriptive and normative theories of translation? Though these are complex questions for a researcher trying to find a Bakhtinian alternative for translation theories, an answer is still possible. In chapters two and three, titled “Translation and Dialogism” and “Translation and ‘Indirect Discourse’,” we observed how Bakhtin’s and Voloshinov’s concepts help a translator to establish a dialogical concordance between the source and target cultures/languages. Bakhtin’s notions of “inner-dialogism” and “double-voiced words” not only help a translator understand the complexities involved in the process of translation but also illuminate the translator with regard to the course of action s/he needs to take to translate a given utterance. The translator can retain the intention of the author of the source-text and yet add a new voice of her/his own. As we have observed, Raja Rao’s novels and T. S. Eliot’s poetry are examples that demonstrate Bakhtinian double-voicedness. On the other hand, translators also make their translations monologic by failing to incorporate this double-voicedness. That is, they prioritise one voice over the other and erase their voice as a translator from the translated text. Thus, to use Lawrence Venuti’s term, the translators themselves become responsible for their own “invisibility” (1995, 4). Examples from the translations of Adiga’s Kannada poem and P. S. Rege’s Marathi poem substantiate the absence of double-voicedness. In the same vein, Voloshinov’s ideas of “indirect discourse” and his views on how an indirect discourse retains its analytical tendency by utilising certain devices like quotation marks could be applied effectively to the process of translation. A translator can benefit by utilising quotation marks as a device to convey the uniqueness of a particular utterance and grasp the reader’s attention. M. Asaduddin and G. V. Karandikar, in their translations, have shown such an analytical tendency and have utilised

Conclusion or Anti-Closure


quotation marks to convey the “strangeness” of a particular utterance from the source-text. Thus, the unevenness and the asymmetrical dualism between the source language/culture and target language/culture could be overcome by utilising certain theoretical postulates proposed by Bakhtin and Voloshinov. These theoretical idioms, when applied to the practice of translation, become the “architectonics of translation.” These architectonics provide a direction to the translator by helping her/him not only to understand the semantic intensity and the uniqueness of the time/space category in which the source-text was written, but also in devising plans of action to retain the same intensity and yet speak to a new target readership. They make translations “answerable” to the inner individualistic sensations expressed by the author of the source-text, and also to the “outward expressedness” of social communities of the target culture. To use a Bakhtinian term, they provide an axiological foundation to express the “emotional-volitional reactions” of the two cultures (1990, 30). One of the central concerns for both Bakhtin and Voloshinov is a focus on language as reported speech. As Susan Stewart writes: “Bakhtin observes … [that] all speech is reported speech, for all speech carries with it a history of use and interpenetration by which it achieves both identity and difference. It is within this remarkable capacity for making present the past that speech acquires its social meaning” (1986, 53). Certainly, translation is “reported speech” because it has to convey the semantic intensity of the source-text. It is also, in some sense, “making present the past” because it involves composing a new utterance out of an old, already existing utterance for the target readers. Through her/his creative incorporation, the translator provides a distinct “identity” and also a “difference” to the source-text. The architectonics of translation assists the translator in interpenetrating the source and target languages/cultures and allows a mutual dialogical interanimation of voices. This is done by metaphorically inserting the “transparent screen” Bakhtin speaks of in his discourse on art, aesthetics, and answerability. In his words: Something like a transparent screen has to be inserted between my inner self-sensation … and my outwardly expressed image: the screen of the other’s possible emotional-volitional reaction to my outward manifestation—his possible enthusiasm, love, astonishment, or


Chapter Seven compassion for me. And looking through this screen of the other’s soul (which is thus reduced to a means), I vivify my exterior and make it part of the plastic and pictorial world. (1990, 31)

This screen serves as a “means” to inter-animate dialogical vibrations across the source and target cultures. The translator has to imaginatively perceive such a screen and position it in the internal realms of her/his mind before embarking upon translation. Since translation is performed by individuals situated in particular and unique categories of time and space, it is fundamentally impossible to have an objectified “means” or principle to translate. The uniqueness of their being varies significantly, and binds and influences the task of translation. The translator is motivated by several social and cultural factors, and these factors also get reflected in the translated work. As Hatim and Mason write: “The translator’s motivations are inextricably bound up with the socio-cultural context in which the act of translating takes place. Consequently, it is important to judge translating activity only within a social context” (1990, 12). When a particular text is translated by different people, the dialogic assemblage of voices varies significantly. That is, owing to different socio-cultural contexts the translators construct dialogic relationships in different manners. The “means” to translate are influenced by the cultural milieu, and translations are shaped accordingly, at the same time influencing the representation of the multiple voices of the sourcetext.4 This phenomenon gives rise to several questions: What directions does the source-text take when it is translated for the same target community by different people belonging to different social contexts? What factors guide and shape such translations? Do they have implications for the translation situation at large? Though answers to the questions we have raised are difficult, in the chapter “Translating Polyphonic Poetry” an attempt has been undertaken to explore the complications involved. Our analysis of the two English translations of the same poem from the Kannada, Hindi, and Marathi languages draws attention to at least three interesting characteristics of translation in the Indian context. Firstly, the translation of regional poetry into English inevitably means the silencing of a few voices of the polyphonic source-text/poem. Translations reciprocate the overall polyphonic appeal, but in the process they focus more on some voices at the cost of others. That is, modernist poetry is either romanticised or made

Conclusion or Anti-Closure


starkly modernist by the two translations. Each of the two translations into English captures a set of voices and engages itself in strengthening those voices. Though an attempt is undertaken by both translations to retain the themes and motifs of the original poems, the native traces and cultural markers are negotiated. Even if the poet himself/herself translates (as is the case with Karandikar’s “Daatapaasun daatakaade”), the polyphonic appeal of the English translation appears to be simply a subset of the polyphonic appeal of the original poem. Secondly, poetry translations in the Indian literary situation model themselves by drawing heavily from European analogies; that is, the activity of translation shapes itself by borrowing from European literary movements. The two translations, by subscribing to the characteristic features of the romanticism, modernism, or postmodernism modes of poetry writing, demonstrate a tilt towards European literary movements. The European literary movements are something “out there,” whose influence and appeal have a profound impact on poetry translations in India. Thus, it is evident that the literary movements of the West have not only influenced and to a certain extent even shaped the creative literatures in the regional languages of India, but have also wielded their impact on translations of regional poetry into English. This tendency need not be a passive submission to the Western traditions. Rather, the cultural values of the West are being appropriated through translation, and the conflictual impulses within the Indian literary situation are further strengthened to increase their inner dialogism. Thirdly, a curious aspect that came to light in our analysis was the manner and style of poetry translations. Poetry is not translated as poetry per se, but elements of prose are utilised in the process of translation. By elements of prose we mean a common everyday speech bereft of rhythm, rhyme, and meter. For Bakhtin, the dialogic word/utterance is never rhythmic but is the “word already spoken” by people. Rhythm freezes the dialogic import of the word. As Bakhtin observes: The very rhythm of poetic genres does not promote any appreciable degree of stratification. Rhythm, by creating an unmediated involvement between every aspect of the accentual system of the whole (via the most immediate rhythmic unities), destroys in embryo those social worlds of speech and of persons that are potentially embedded in the word: in any case, rhythm puts definite limits on them, does not let them unfold or materialize. Rhythm serves to strengthen and concentrate even further the unity and hermetic quality of the surface of poetic style, and of the unitary language that this style posits. (1994a, 298)


Chapter Seven

In Bakhtin’s view, the language of prose is populated with ideological traces because it is multi-layered with the intentions, tones, and intonations of the speakers. Such a language captures the living vibrations of speech patterns and provides the translator with sufficient room to translate the source-text/poem. We observe Nadig, Chitre, and Dharwadker translating the source-poem in a language that is more prosaic in the Bakhtinian sense. Literal translation is given up in favour of either elaborated utterances or cryptic and terse expressions in English. Less attention is paid to the romantic poetic characteristics that make their translations prosaic. This manner and style of translation challenge the traditional mode of poetry translations, and also help us understand poetry in a new vein—poetry perhaps as prose with a pluralistic worldview. In chapter six, “Cultural Encounters and Dialogism,” a parallel was drawn between the manner in which the different cultural traces collide and contest with each other for recognition and the contesting nature of a colliding word in an utterance.5 The conflictual condition or the “tensionfilled environment” that arises out of such a collision results in an “unfinalizable” condition, where, rather than the domination and subordination of one culture/tradition by the other, mutual inter-animation and dialogic reciprocation acquire significance. The juxtaposition of tradition and modernity in the Indian situation resulted in such an “unfinalizability,” and the resultant situation demonstrates a Bakhtinian “event of co-being.” The chapter also analysed Indian English as a site of cultural encounter where both the European and the native traces collide, contest, and assimilate. This collision does not dispel the native traces; rather, it strengthens the same by incorporating the cultural markers in its ambit. The chapter explicated how a Bakhtinian way of understanding the problematique of Indian English answers some of the problems that the current theories on the discipline have not been able to address.

Scope for Further Research The current study has focused on a few principles of Bakhtinian philosophy and applied and extended them to translation and cultural encounters. However, it is possible to extend the scope of this research and include many other principles of dialogism; for instance, the notion of carnival and its relevance to the theory and practice of translation has not been examined. We have also not asked questions about how translations carnivalise the original, how Bakhtinian carnival categories like the “word with the loophole” and “active double-voiced words” contribute towards a

Conclusion or Anti-Closure


dialogic translation, and, more importantly, whether the element of carnival (because of its subversive tendency) in translation disrupts the very dialogic reciprocation that a translator is supposed to establish between herself/himself, the target culture, and the source-text. Again, the notion of chronotope, and the way in which a translated chronotope varies from the original chronotope, can certainly be of much interest to the theory of translation. The artistic intermingling of the time and space categories and the problems they pose for a translator are important issues to be addressed. An interesting concern here would be to figure out the anatopism and anachronism in translations, and discuss how time and space are deliberately mismatched in the translations of selfreflexive postmodernist poems and prose. Also, certain curious questions could be asked; for example, can an adventure chronotope be translated into a romance chronotope? Is it possible to transcreate chronotopes? Or can we translate an active chronotope into an “invisible” chronotope? Though in the current study an attempt has been undertaken to understand the relevance of Bakhtin’s polyphony for the theory and practice of translation, a few more problems can be analysed. For instance, what happens to the multiple voices when the same regional polyphonic novel is translated into different languages by different translators? How do the socio-cultural horizons differ in these different translations? Samskara was translated into English in 1976; if the same novel were to be re-translated now, how would the assemblage of voices change? At a macro-level, how does the dialogism of translations change depending on the ideologies of time? It could be observed that our analysis of Indian English is merely a small unit of a larger question. The dialogization of Indian English is worth a profound investigation. It is certainly important in this context to examine how the dialogization in Indian English differs from the dialogization that is occurring in the Englishes of other colonised nations. Again, it is important to interrogate the relationship between the notion of “nation” and the de facto official language of the “nation.” That is, the argument of constructivists like Homi Bhabha and Benedict Anderson, who draw our attention to the way in which the so-called “postcolonial” nations imagine and narrate their identities as unitary and monologic entities, and how English language serves as a vehicle that binds their narration and imagination, needs to be seriously examined.


Chapter Seven

Another argument that requires a thorough inquiry is Indian English as the power centre that establishes an imperialist hegemony by marginalising the creative and critical literatures of regional languages. Though much has been said and done in this regard, a Bakhtinian understanding of Indian English as an alternative to the Foucauldian model of the power/knowledge tangle needs to be worked out in a serious way. It is clear from the observations above that there are many issues with regard to dialogism, translation, and cultural encounters that have not been considered in the present study. The complexities and problematisations of these issues require a separate study, which is beyond the scope of the present work. Probably, a sequel to the present thesis needs to be undertaken to address these research problems. And there can be little doubt that the sequel, once written, would necessitate the writing of another sequel, because the problematics of translation and cultural encounters are such that the deeper we inquire the more problems we encounter. As Bakhtin suggests: There is neither a first nor a last word and there are no limits to the dialogic context (it extends into boundless future) … At any moment in the development of the dialogue there are immense, boundless masses of forgotten contextual meanings, but at certain moments of the dialogue’s subsequent development along the way they are recalled and invigorated in renewed form (in a new context). Nothing is absolutely dead: every meaning will have its homecoming festival. The problem of great time. (1994b, 170)

Notes 1

Radhakrishnan raises a very pertinent question in his book Theory In an Uneven World (2003)—how can one handle the unevenness between the West and the “rest?” To quote him: “The people of the world are currently unevenly situated between two historiographic discourses; the discourse of the “post” and the “trans-,” whose objective seems to be to read historical meaning in terms of travel, displacement, deracination, and the transcendence of origins; and discourses motivated by the need to return to precolonial, premodern, and pre-nationalist traditions of the indigeny” (2003, 2). This becomes relevant in the context of translation because it has to answer this unevenness by retaining the indigenous elements as well as the historical compulsions that situate cultures differently. 2 A Bakhtinian approach will certainly not prioritise the original. There can be no sanctity attached to the “original,” since that would imply hierarchy and domination. As Rashmi Doraiswamy writes: “Bakhtin was fond of saying that it is not Adam who speaks. Reality is already ever inscribed in a matrix of signification. The child who imbibes language does so on the axis of what Bakhtin

Conclusion or Anti-Closure


calls the ‘word of the father’ and the ‘internally-convinced word.’ The former implies a distance, and a hierarchical one at that. The internally convinced word, being ones’ own, can be played with—i.e., it is more open to parody, irony, humour etc. The language imbibed, in its having traversed from one context to the other, has its own layerings of significations and levels of ‘otherness’” (1990, 63). Translation is not a response to the “word of the father”: rather, it should be an “internally convinced word” that is loaded with various layers of meaning and signification that demonstrate its “otherness.” 3 A parallel could be drawn here between Bakhtin’s “architectonics” and LeviStrauss’s metaphor of “bricolage.” For Levi-Strauss, mythical thought, “is a kind of intellectual bricolage” involving differential relations (1966, 17). Translation is certainly a kind of an “intellectual bricolage” where a translator has to accomplish the task with certain “materials and tools. However, for a bricoleur the world is closed and finite because s/he has the responsibility of finishing the task with “whatever is available.” S/he has to handle the task within a closed universe dictated by her/his immediate circumstances. On the other hand, “architectonics” is a process where finalization is not possible. By involving herself/himself in the architectonics of translation, a translator responds to the open-ended nature of knowledge, languages, and cultures. The materials available are not limited but are numerous. The creative task is not a mechanical one, as in the case of a bricolage. 4 For a detailed analysis of “cultural milieu” and society and its influence on the activity of translation see Simeoni (2005, 3–15). 5 As with translation, it is possible to view culture as dialogue. Michael Mayerfeld Bell, in his essay “Culture as Dialogue” (1998, 49–62), argues that culture is, in a dialogic sense, the conversations that we have and we expect to have with individuals and communities across the categories of time and space. According to Mayerfeld Bell: “Seeing culture as dialogue having its own internal dialectic of conversation, also allows us to acknowledge its sometimes enchanting and sometimes upsetting, sometimes graceful and sometimes awkward, sometimes rapid and sometimes glacial spontaneity. It allows us sometimes to see culture as collective agency in the face of frequently bad odds” (1998, 52).


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Bakhtin and Translation Studies


Vadim Liapunov. Supplement Trans. Kenneth Bros. Austin: U of Texas P, 1990. —. Toward a Philosophy of the Act. Trans. Vadim Liapunov. Ed. Michael Holquist and Vadim Liapunov. Austin: U of Texas P, 1993. —. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays by M.M. Bakhtin. Ed. Michael Holquist. Trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist, Austin: U. of Texas P, 1994a. —. Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Ed. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Trans. Vern W. McGee. Austin: U. of Texas P, 1994b. Baldridge, Jason. “Linguistics and Social Characteristics of Indian English”. Language in India. Vol.2 (June-July 2002): 13 July 2006.

Baral, Kailash C. “Self, Desire and Silence: A Lacanian Reading of Samskara”. U. R. Anantha Murthy’s Samskara: A Critical Reader. Ed. Kailash C. Baral. D. Venkat Rao and Sura P. Rath. New Delhi: Pencraft International, 2005. Bassnett-McGuire, Susan. Translation Studies. London and New York: Methuen, 1980. Bassnett, Susan and Andre Lefevere. “Introduction: Proust’s Grandmother and the Thousand and One Nights. The ‘Cultural’ in Translation Studies”. Translation, History, Culture. Ed. Susan Bassnett and Andre Lefevere. London: Printer Publisher, 1990. 1-14. Benjamin, Walter. “The Task of the Translator.” Trans. Harry Zohn. The Translation Studies Reader. Ed. Lawrence Venuti, London and New York. Routledge Publishers, 2000. 15-22. Clark, Katerina et al. Mikhail Bakhtin. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: Harvard U P, 1984. Chatterjee, Partha. Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1986. Chatterjee, Upamanyu. English August: An Indian Story. New Delhi: Penguin, 1998. Chitre, Dilip. “Introduction”. An Anthology of Marathi Poetry (1945-65). Trans. & Ed. Dilip Chitre. Bombay: Nirmala Sadanand Publishers, 1967. 1-26. Danow, David K. The Thought of Mikhail Bakhtin: From Word to Culture. New York: St. Martin’s P, 1991. Das, Gurcharan. “Inglish as She Spoke”. 14 March 2006.


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Dasgupta, Probal. The Otherness of English: India’s Auntie Tongue Syndrome. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1993. —. “Resisting Industriality”. English Language Teaching in India: Issues and Innovations. Ed. R.K. Agnihotri and A.L. Khanna. New Delhi: Sage, 1995. —. “Trafficking in Words: Languages, Missionaries and Translators”. In Translation: Reflection, Refractions, Transformations. Ed. Paul StPierre and Prafulla C. Kar. New Delhi: Pencraft, 2005. Derrida, Jacques. “Des Tours de Babel.” Difference in Translation. Trans. and Ed. Joseph F. Graham. London and Ithaca: Cornell U P, 1985. Desai, S. K. “Introduction”. Indian Poetry Today Vol.2. Ed. S.K. Desai. et al. New Delhi: Indian Council for Cultural Relations, 1976. 1-7. Deshpande, L.S. “Poetry Translation: A Dilemma”. Art and Science of Translation. Hyderabad: Booklinks Corporation,1994. 97-112. Doraiswamy, Rashmi. “The Self and the Other: Discourse/Textuality in Bakhtin”. Structures of Signification Vol1. Ed. M. S. Gill. New Delhi, Wiley Eastern. 53-78. Eagleton, Terry. Literary Theory: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2000a. Eagleton, Terry. The Idea of Culture. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2000b. Eliot, T.S. Notes Towards the Definition of Culture. London: Faber and Faber, 1962. —. “Tradition and the Individual Talent” English Critical Texts. Ed. D.J. Enright & Ernst De Chickera. London: Oxford U P, 1962. 293-302. —. “The Waste Land”. The Faber Book of Modern Verse. Ed. Michael Roberts. London: Faber and Faber, 1965. 91-103. Emerson, Caryl. The First Hundred Years of Mikhail Bakhtin. Princeton: Princeton U P, 2000. Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. Trans. Charles Lam Markmann. New York: Grove P, 1967. Fludernik, Monika. “Free Indirect Discourse”. 20 March 2006.

Genette, Gerald. Narrative Discourse. New York: Cornell U P, 1989. Gentzler, Edwin. Contemporary Translation Theories. London and New York. Routledge Publishers, 1993. Govt. of India. “Implementation of Three Language Formula”. Varthava. Mysore: CIIL Press, 1984. Graham F. Joseph. “Translator’s Note”. Difference in Translation. Ed. Joseph F. Graham London & Ithaca: Cornell U P, 1985. 205-07.

Bakhtin and Translation Studies


Greene, Graham. “Introduction”. The Bachelor of Arts. The U of Chicago P, 1983. Griffiths. G. “The Myth of Authenticity”. De-scribing Empire: Postcolonialism and Textuality. Ed. C.Tiffin and A. Lawson. London: Routledge, 1994. Hatim, B. and I. Mason. Discourse and the Translator. London and New York: Longman, 1990. Hirschkop, Ken. “Introduction: Bakhtin and Cultural Theory.” Bakhtin and cultural theory. Ed. Ken Hirschkop and David Shepherd. Manchester and New York: Manchester U P, 1989. 1-38. Hirschkop, Ken. Mikhail Bakhtin: An Aesthetic For Democracy. Oxford: Oxford U P, 2002. Holquist, Michael. “The Politics of Representation”. Allegory and Representation. S.J Greenstall (ed.). Baltimore: John Hopkins U P, 1986. 165-187. —. Dialogism: Bakhtin and his World. London and New York: Routledge, 1990. Jakobson, Roman. “On Linguistic Aspects of Translation.” On Translation. Ed. Reuben A. Brower. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harward U P, 1959. 232-239. Jalki, Dunkin. “Orientalsim as a Linguistic Behavior: On the AntiBrahman Rhetoric of Samskara”. U. R. Anantha Murthy’s Samskara: A Critical Reader. Ed. Kailash C. Baral. D. Venkat Rao and Sura P. Rath. New Delhi: Pencraft International, 2005. 179-198. Kachru, Braj B. The Indianisation of English: The English Language in India Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1983. Karandikar, G.V. “You and I Run”. An Anthology of Marathi Poetry (1945-65). Trans. & Ed. Dilip Chitre. Bombay: Nirmala Sadanand Publishers, 1967. 90-92. —. “Ten Minutes With The Poet”. Poems of Vinda. Trans. G.V. Karandikar. Bombay: Nirmal Sadanand Publishers, 1975. 7-15. —. “Daatapaasun Daataakade”. “From Teeth to Teeth”. Some More Poems of Vinda. Trans. G.V. Karandikar. Bombay: Nirmal Sadanand Publishers, 1983. 48-53. —. “The Wheel”. .Poems of Vinda. Trans. G.V. Karandikar. Bombay: Nirmal Sadanand Publishers, 1975. 100-101. —. “I Have a Strange Feeling”. Some More Poems of Vinda. Trans.: G.V. Karandikar. Bombay: Nirmal Sadanand Publishers, 1983. 68-69. Kaul, A.N. “R.K. Narayan and the east-west Theme”. Considerations. Ed. Meenakshi Mukherjee. New Delhi: Allied Publishers, 1977.


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Khubchandani, Lachman M. “A Pragmatic Approach to Translation: The Dynamics of Language Contact.” New Quest (special Issue) Translation: From Text to Context. 135. (May-June 1999): 147-152. King, Bruce. Modern English Poetry in English. Delhi: Oxford U P, 1987. Krishnamurthi, M.G. “Adiga at Fifty”. The Song of the Earth and other poems. Trans. A.K. Ramanujam and M.G. Krishnamurthi. Calcutta: Writers Workshop, 1968. Kristeva, Julia. Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art. Trans. Thomas Gora, Alice Jardine and Leon S. Roudiez. Ed. Leon S. Roudiez. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1980. Levi-Strauss, Claude. The Savage Mind. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1966. Levinas, Emmanuel. Otherwise Than Being, or Beyond Essence. Trans. Alphonso Lingis. Pittsburgh: Duquense U P, 1981. Lewis R., Anthony. “Language and Translation: Contesting Conventions”. In Translation: Reflections, Refractions, Transformations. Ed. Paul StPierre and Prafulla C.Kar. Delhi: Pencraft International, 2005. 15-24. Lodge, David. After Bakhtin: Essays on Fiction and Criticism. London: Routledge, 1990. Macura, Lawrence. “Culture as Translation”. Translation, History, Culture. Ed: Susan Bassnett & Andre Lefevere. London: Printer Publishers, 1990. 64-71. Malshe, Milind. “Criticism and Aesthetic Norms”. Seminar. 359 (July 1989): 36-38. Manto, Saadat Hasan. Toba Teksingh: Short Stories by Saadat Hasan Manto. Allahabad: Upasana Prakashan, 2002. 89-94. —. “Toba Tek Singh”. Trans. M. Asaduddin. Translating Partition. Ed. Ravikant and Tarun K. Saint. New Delhi: Katha Books, 2001. 63-72. —. “Toba Tek Singh”. Trans. Khalid Hasan. Mirrorwork: 50 Years of Indian Writing 1947-1997. Ed. Salman Rushdie and Elizabeth West. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997. 25-31. Mayerfeld Bell, Michael. “Culture as Dialogue”. Bakhtin and The Human Sciences: No Last Words. Ed. Michael Mayerfeld Bell and Michael Gardiner.London and New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1998. 49-63. Mehrotra, Raja Ram. Indian English: Text and Interpretation. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamin Publishers, 1998. Morson, G.S. and Caryl Emerson (Ed.). Rethinking Bakhtin: Extensions and Challenges. Illinois: North Western U P, 1989. Morson, Gary Saul. and Caryl Emerson. Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of a Prosaics. Stanford: Stanford U P, 2001. Morson, Gary Saul (ed.). Bakhtin: Essays and Dialogues on His Work. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1990.

Bakhtin and Translation Studies


Muir, Edwin et al. “Translation from the German.” On Translation. Ed. Reuben A. Brower. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harward U P, 1959. 85-99. Mukherjee, Meenakshi. The Twice Born Fiction: Themes and Techniques of the Indian Novel in English. New Delhi: Arnold-Heinemann Publishers, 1974. —. The Perishable Empire: Essays on Indian Writing in English. New Delhi. Oxford U P, 2000. Muktibodh, Gajaanan Madhav. “Shoonya”. Chaand ka Muh Tedaa Hai. New Delhi: Bharatiya Jnanpeeth, 1988. 181-82. —. “The Void”. Trans. Vinay Dharwadker. The Oxford Anthology of Modern Indian Poetry. Delhi: Oxford U P, 1994. 29-30. —. “The Void Within”. Trans. Krishna Baldev Vaid. An Anthology of Modern Hindi Poetry. Ed. Dr. Kailash Vajpeyi. New Delhi: Rupa and Co., 1998. 44-45. Nadig, Sumatheendra S. “Multiple Translation: A Case Study”. Translation as Synthesis: A Search for a New Gestalt. Ed. Karunakaran and M.Jayakumar. New Delhi: Bahri Publications, 1988.190-158. Narayan, R.K. The Guide. Madras: Diocesan Press.1985. Nelson, Cary. Paula A. Treichler and Lawrence Grossberg. “Cultural Studies: An Introduction”. Cultural Studies. Ed. Lawrence Grossberg. Cary Nelson and Paula A. Treichler. New York and London: Routledge, 1992. 1-22. Nida, Eugene. “Principles of Translation as Exemplified by Bible Translating.” On Translation. Ed: Reuben A. Brower. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harward U P, 1959. 11-31. Nihalani, Paroo. R. K. Tongue. Priya Hosali. Indian and British English: A Handbook of Usage and Pronunciation. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987. Niranjana, Tejaswini et al. Ed. Interrogating Modernity: Culture and Colonialism in India. Calcutta: Seagull Books, 1993. Pandya, Sudha P. & Prafulla C.Kar. Ed: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Modernity. Delhi: Pencraft International, 2001. Parekh, Bikhu. Colonialism, Tradition and Reform: An Analysis of Gandhi’s Political Discourse. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1989. Parrington, John. “In Perspective: Valentin Voloshinov”. 14 June 2006.

Parthasarathy, R. Rough Passage: New Poetry in India. Delhi: Oxford U P, 1977.


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Parthasarathy, R. “The Example of Raja Rao”. Word as Mantra: The Art of Raja Rao. Ed. Robert L. Hardgrave Jr. New Delhi: Katha, 1998. 637. Pathankar, R.B. Apoorna Kranti. Bombay: Mouse Publication, 1999. Pearce, Lynne. Reading Dialogics. London: Edward Arnold, 1994. Pechey, Graham. “On the Borders of Bakhtin: Dialogization, Decolinization”. Bakhtin and Cultural Theory. Ed. Ken Hirschkop and David Shepherd. Manchester and New York: Manchester U P, 1989. 39-67. Radhakrishnan, R. Theory In An Uneven World. Malden and Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2003. —. “Samskara: A Reading”. U. R. Anantha Murthy’s Samskara: A Critical Reader. Ed. Kailash C. Baral. D. Venkat Rao and Sura P. Rath. New Delhi: Pencraft International, 2005. 135-150. Rao, Raja. The Serpent and the Rope. Delhi: Orient Paperbacks, 1968. —. Kanthapura. Madras: Oxford university Press, 1974. Rao, S. Jayasrinivasa. “Novel in Kannada: The Early Phase”. U. R. Anantha Murthy’s Samskara: A Critical Reader. Ed. Kailash C. Baral. D. Venkat Rao and Sura P.Rath. New Delhi: Pencraft International, 2005. 40-68. Rath, Sura P. “Samskara/Samsara/Shankara: Word-Play and Construction of Meaning in U. R. Anantha Murthy’s Samskara.” U. R. Anantha Murthy’s Samskara: A Critical Reader. Ed. Kailash C. Baral. D. Venkat Rao and Sura P. Rath. New Delhi: Pencraft International, 2005. 100-113. Rushdie, Salman. The Moor’s Last Sigh. London: Vintage, 1996. Said, Edward. Culture and Imperialism. London: Blackwell, 1993. Sarkar, Sumit. Modern India (1885-1947). New Delhi: Macmillan P, 2001. Saussure, Ferdinand de. Course in General Linguistics. Trans. Wade Baskin. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966. Selden, Raman (Ed). The Theory of Criticism: From Plato to the Present. London and New York: Longman, 1988. Shastri, Sudha. Intertextuality and Victorian Studies. Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 2001. Shepherd, David. “Bakhtin and the Reader”. Bakhtin and Cultural Theory. Ed. Ken Hirschkop and David Shepherd. Manchester and New York: Manchester U P, 1989. 91-108. —. “Re-introducing the Bakhtin Circle”. The Bakhtin Circle: In The Master’s Absence. Ed. Craig Brandist, David Shepherd and Galin Tihanov. Machester and New York: Manchester U P, 2004. 1-24.

Bakhtin and Translation Studies


Simeoni, Daniel. “Translation and Society: The Emergence of a Conceptual Relationship.” In Translation: Reflections, Refractions, Transformations. Ed. Paul St-Pierre and Prafulla C. Kar. Delhi: Pencraft International, 2005. 3-15. Sperber, Dan and Deirdre Wilson. Relevance: Communication and Cognition. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1986. Sprinchorn, Evert. (ed.). The Genius of the Scandinavian Theater. New York: Mentor Books, 1964. Steiner, George. After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation. London: Oxford U P. 1977. Stewart, Susan. “Shouts on the Street: Bakhtin’s Anti-Linguistics”. Bakhtin: Essays and Dialogues on his Work. Ed. Gary Saul Morson. Chicago and London: U of Chicago P, 1986. 41-58. Tabakowska, Elzbieta. “Linguistic Polyphony as a Problem in Translation”. Translation, History, Culture. Ed. Susan Bassnett and Andre Lefevere. London: Pinter Publishers, 1990. 71-78. The Brhadaranyaka Upanisad (with the commentary of Sankaracarya). Trans.: Swami Madhavananda. Almora, Himalayas: Advaita. 1950. Tirumalesh, K. V. “The Context of Samskara”. U. R. Anantha Murthy’s Samskara: A Critical Reader. Ed. Kailash C. Baral. D. Venkat Rao and Sura P.Rath. New Delhi: Pencraft International, 2005. 72-81. Todorov, Tzvetan. Mikhail Bakhtin: The Dialogical Principle. Trans. Wlad Godzich. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984. Toury, Gideon. “The Nature and Role of Norms in Translation”. The Translation Studies Reader. Ed. Lawrence Venuti. London and New York, Routledge Publishers. 2000. 198-212. Vajpeyi, Ashok. “Remembering ‘In the Dark’”. In The Dark. Gajaanan Madhav Muktibodh. Trans. Krishna Baldev Vaid. Noida: Rainbow Publishers Ltd.2001. 7-11. Vajpeyi, Kailash. “Introduction”. Indian Poetry Today Vol.2. Ed. S.K. Desai. et al. New Delhi: Indian Council for Cultural Relations, 1976. 161-168. Venuti, Lawerence (ed.). Rethinking Translation: Discourse, Subjectivity, Ideology. London and New York: Routledge, 1992. —. The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation. London and New York: Routledge. 1995. —. “Introduction”. The Translation Studies Reader. London and New York, Routledge. 2000. 1-8. Vice, Sue. Introducing Bakhtin. Manchester: Manchester U P, 1998.


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Vivekananda, Swami. “Modern India”. Between Tradition and Modernity: India’s Search for Identity – A Twentieth Century Anthology. New Delhi: Sage Publications India Pvt. Ltd., 1998. Volosinov, V.N. Marxism and The Philosophy of Language. Trans. Ladislav Matejka and I.R. Titunik. New York and London: Seminar Press, 1973. Williams, Raymond. Culture and Society 1780-1950. London: Chatto and Windus, 1958. Wordsworth, William. From “Preface to Lyrical Ballads”. The Theory of Criticism: From Plato to the Present. Ed. Raman Selden. London and New York: Longman, 1988.174-183. Zhongwen, Qian. “Problems of Dostoevsky’s Theory about ‘Polyphony’”. New Literary History. 28 (1997): 779-790.