How translations are giving Tamil books a new lease of life

Two Tamil novels translated to various languages recently have generated a lot of literary interest. Illustration: Manikandan R

Translation expands our ability to explore through literature the thoughts and feelings of people from another society or another time, says award-winning translator Edith Grossman in her seminal work Why Translation Matters.

"It permits us to savour the transformation of the foreign into the familiar and for a brief time to live outside our own skins, our own preconceptions and misconceptions. It expands and deepens our world, our consciousness, in countless, indescribable ways," she says. For Grossman the translator is, in fact, the second writer who begins with a written work and creates another.

The Spanish-to-English literary translator believes translation extends to writers, whose language is limited by reach, a consequential size.

Two recently translated works from Tamil to various languages prove Grossman right. The books Kallikaattu Ithihaasam by Vairamuthu (2001) published by Surya Literature, and Irandam Jamankalin Kathai by Salma (2004) of Kalachuvadu Publications, are back in news not only in Tamil Nadu but also across the country.

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