A previous post on this blog put forward the notion of translator's affinity in the sense of a translator's empathy with the original author. (To find the post, enter affinity in the Search box on the right.) Examples were given. Now another striking example of it has come to hand. It comes from a translator-teeming country often touted on this blog as under-represented and under-studied in contemporary mainstream translatology, namely India.
Sunanda Amrapurkar is the Marathi translator who worked on Deepti Naval's The Mad Tibetan, In her view, translation is not just about language but about much more.
"Detachment is an unfamiliar feeling for Sunanda Amrapurkar. In fact the Marathi translator can identify completely with an emotion at the opposite end of the spectrum that enables her to feel a sense of kinship with authors she has never met and yet, tapped into their core for her work. Her latest translation, which was released recently in Pune [the cultural capital of the state of Maharashtra, India], is of Deepti Naval's The Mad Tibetan (see References below). 'I loved her sensitivity as an artist… The way she has depicted nature in her book – be it a seaside in Mumbai, twilight in Khandala or the Himalayan mountainscape – it's almost a character in the book. I really enjoyed her content and expression,' Amrapurkar said from her home in Mumbai."
Another aspect of her affinity is her natural attraction to women-oriented narratives.
"It's true that I gravitate towards them. Even as a child, I was aware of the way society discriminated against women and used to ask my mother why she didn't made me a boy."
Amrapurkar is a good example of the Native Translators who constitute the vast majority of literary translators, and an assurance that for them age doesn't matter. She only took on her first translation project at age 53, after her first grandchild was born and without ever having taken a translation course or diploma. Absorption in family care makes many Indian woman intellectuals late developers. Yet since then she has translated over 20 books from English to Marathi, the Indo-Aryan language spoken predominantly by the people of Maharashtra. There are mor than 70 million of them. Since it's written in Devanagari script, an English-Marathi translator must also be biscriptal; for more on this, enter biscriptal in the Search box on the right. So how did she learn to translate successfully at such a high level? Her answer is, by reading.
"The 65-year old becomes one with what she reads. 'I took on translating renowned English books into Marathi because it kept me connected to my first love – readng… I grew up surrounded by books because my father was an editor… A home we can't sleep without reading.'"So there we have her: a Native Translator of mature years, self-taught by reading and captivated by her affinity with women writers.
Renu Deshpande-Dhole. Small talk, an immersive experience. Pune Mirror, 16 July 2017.
Pune used to be known as Poona.
Deepti Naval. The Mad Tibetan: Stories from Then and Now. Bhopal: Amaryllis, 2011. Available from Amazon and other booksellers.