BY Harsimran Kaur ON July 06 , 2022 IN BOOK REVIEW, TRANSLATING MYSELF AND OTHERS BY JHUMPA LAHIRI-NON-FICTION
The cacophony of winds is a staccato to some and for some an unapologetic disdain cursing the heavens for its insipid outburst. An impious trajectory of two lovers plummeting in the valley of death, for some would be a painful remorse and to many a deserving pit of venom.
Are we trying to defy the odds or even out the role of interpretations in translating our thoughts, which are conjoined by words irrespective of their fondness to a particular language?Translation is not just a word-to-word carnivalesque but badinage between writer and translator; it may come out in exactitude or transpire as a soft misalignment in the thought process, though retaining the essence of its origin.
In the middle of reading ‘Translating Myself and Others’ by Jhumpa Lahiri, I recruited a house maid who could only speak Bengali. My other helper was well-versed with the language and serendipitously came to my rescue. The entire process was never a ‘verbatim’ from Bengali to Hindi. It was much to the perception and comfort of the translator to disgorge the final trail of words.
The book too sashays a volley of words to attach different hues and patterns to ‘translation’ and not a dormant transfix like a doctrine—structured and staunch. It’s like binging on one’s temperamental invasiveness and then an imperceptible inclusiveness to taste your dish becomes somebody else’s motive.
Jhumpa Lahiri has the perfect ratiocination to uphold the act of translation to the place it deserves. How we all are so lethargic in admitting a translator’s role in etching a holistic read, breaking the infringing language bars. Lahiri has conspicuously been a reminder to herself of her journey as a translator—a revelation she has proffered to her mind crushing the de facto Italian alliance invalidated by some, a soliloquy to dissect words that comprehend another writer’s work and a plausible diversification of thoughts to answer to the demands of consanguinity of relevance.
Her in-depth analysis of what consumes a writer to present an agglomeration of his assessments and indulgences has a direct impact on how a translator interprets the work. For Lahiri, translating Ovid’s ‘Metamorphosis’ has been a dream, of which she has burnished her comprehension of the original—eloquent and intriguing; the myth of Echo and Juno, of what is lost in one’s foundation of self-belief, is a masterpiece. Loss becomes a significant partaker as one torrid storm succeeds another—a forbearance one must get accustomed to.
To understand the depth of translation and sublime passion for languages, Gramsci’s bulk of prison letters are a hope to dive the deep sea of thoughtful reasoning. The favourite part is ‘Aristotle’s Poetics’—original text written in Italian—states a peculiar distinction between a poet and a historian.
A writer or a translator, both require affection to deal with words to portray the true essence of what the story seems to convey. I have read Jhumpa Lahiri before and, needless to say her cornucopia of stylish books from ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ to ‘Whereabouts’ is a palace on wheels. Her thumb-stamp as a translator and writer represent the clearly-structured petals forming a corolla of her literary work.
‘Translating Myself and Others’ inscribes essays originally written in Italian and their respective translations. It’s all about breaking barriers of incubated ideas to explore the final essence of the author’s piece of work.