Vasant Ritu – Spring, Issue No. 96 (Mar-Apr 2021)

Kannada Literature – Experienced through Translation

This Feature, curated by Dr Mamta Sagar, our Contributing Editor for Kannada Literature, highlights trials from a decade long literary activity in Kannada. It offers translation as an important lens in understanding the socio-political and cultural responses offered by writers and translators. Such translation activities are realized through transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary engagements that have allowed writers and artists to collaborate in creating, recreating and trans-creating contexts from past and present into languages within and beyond Kannada into mediums like music, photography, film and performance catering to our times and needs. Here are sections for the readers to read, listen, see and engage with whatever has got translated in and out of Kannada culture.

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"At an age, when cremation rituals have changed, when we cannot gather at funerals, when protests appear distant, when untouchability becomes more visible, when the worker appears migrant, the same songs will not work. We will have to write new songs, rewrite old songs or find ways of contemporising old writings, songs, poems. Remember the time when revolutionary songs were made into item songs, Bhakti songs! We will have to sing protest songs like item songs, like devotional songs.” (Kotganalli Ramaiah - The unregistered protest of a poet) (FEATURE)

“Both of us had been for many years singing songs written by women. But this time we attempted to find voices we hadn’t sung. What we discovered in the process was a whole world of stories and voices waiting to be heard. Stories that were never told, or that were considered unimportant. Threshold shaped up as a musical conversation between the two of us, where we weave stories, songs and poems of women from across the world across timelines to counter traditional male heterosexual narrative and historiography.” (M.D.Pallavi and Bindhumalini - The Threshold. Poetry-Music Section) (FEATURE)

“The choice a translator very often has to make is whether to paraphrase or describe a metaphor, an image, an idea, or find an equivalent in the target language. One example is the concept of ‘varanna’. Some religious institutions, the ‘mathas’ and a few privileged families offered a meal to poor and deserving students once a week, in their homes. While the word ‘varanna’ may not be familiar, the reader makes the connection as soon as the practice is explained since it is quite common in many parts of India.” (Keerti Ramachandra - Translating U.R.Ananthamurthy’s ‘Hindutva and Hind Swaraj’) (FEATURE)

Analysing Bhoomigeet, Kabita Lama points out, “The content analysis of Bhoomigeet shows that Sudha Rai has been influenced hugely by feminism in her writings after the publication of Padchinha (Footsteps)”. (LITERARY SECTION)

Discussing the poetry of Nissim Ezekiel, Kavita states, “The distinctive experience of Jews was that they were held in high esteem and never faced discrimination in India.” (LITERARY SECTION)

Reading the poetry of eighteenth-century women poets, Dipanjali Singh states, “Their poetry represents the transgression of the private into the public where women writers occupied an intermediate space as public figures with eloquent domestic lives”. (LITERARY SECTION)

Kasturi Mazumder’s short story Butterfly is a hard hitting take on the effect that Covid has had on those who are away from home and wanting to reach back to their homes. The journey and its travails makes one question the morals by which the world works as well as the increasing divide between the haves and the have-nots. (FICTION) 

Prateek Nigam’s short story With a Dollop of Butter brings one face to face with not only a generational divide that one has to make peace with at times but also the holding on to familiar things to make one’s life easier as well as the tug of war between acceptance and rejection that one witnesses within oneself. (FICTION) 

In Fabrice B. Poussin’s poems, the despair that arises has a quality of surrealism. It is not easy to navigate through the lines of these poems without pausing and taking in every word, that come together to create a world that looks inside one’s self and reflects on the transience that we call life. (POETRY)

Harish Meenashru’s translated works brings one face to face with reality. Poetry turns up at its best in these works as the poet speaks plainly in presenting to his readers a world that stands bereft of illusions. These poems reminds us to look at a world that we tend to remove ourselves from; rather tend to look the other way. (POETRY)

Out of the 10 books reviewed in this issue, Aksara Bhagavad Gita (Haribakth & Vaishnavi) is a first of its kind hermeneutic & polemic exposition of the scriptural guide to life’s holistic practical wisdom. Out of the 2 travelogues covered, Lotus in the Stone – Sacred Journeys in Eternal India (Anuradha Goyal), is a comprehensive blend of the interesting lore, and the architectural & engineering marvel of the ancient temples in India. (BOOK REVIEWS)

4 out of the 7 fiction works reviewed in this issue focus on the plight and challenges of women – emotionally, mentally battered, marginalised & stigmatized. And a different one is Raagam Taanam Pallavi: A Lalli Mystery (Kalpana Swaminathan) – a mystery novel with a unique weave of Indian classical culture & music, tradition & modernity. (BOOK REVIEWS)

Among the 7 works of fiction reviewed in this issue, 2 stand out: The  Family Saga: A Novel Set in the Time of Partition (Narendra Luther) which captures the lives of a maze of people across generations fleeing from Pakistan into India. Beyond the Rainbow (Murli Melwani), an interesting collection of short stories set in the global Sindhi Diaspora. (BOOK REVIEWS)


This Issue of Muse India is sponsored by Ambika Ananth, one of our founder editors and a well-known writer in Telugu and English.

Past Issues

Issue:95:Culture and Identity production in literary paradigms

Issue:94:Love in the Pandemic

Issue:93:Urdu Ramayan

Issue:92:Tradition and Modernity in Odia Literature


Issue:90:Flux and Fusions in English Studies

Issue:89:Children’s Literature

Issue:88:Maithili Literature Tomorrow