Mahfil. v 7, V. 7 ( 1971) p. 67.

Graphics file for this page


A new translation of Katidasa's play by Edwin Gerow


I think you ought to be aware that a certain number of biases went into this translation; an explanation of them might serve as a short introduction

First, I do not conceive of this as a playable11 translation — necessarily;

it is quite purposefully literary It is, in fact, stilted; I sought to maintain the ethical tone of the Sanskrit original, which, even in Kalidasa, never departs very tar from the standpoint of cultured and elegant artificiality — an artificiality inherent in the uses of the language itselfo I felt that the best way of conveying this "sense" in the translation was not necessarily to adopt an "archaic" style, or even an ornate one, but rather one which is stuffy;, and relieved only by the realization that every player has that he is stuffy. A good deal of quasi-pompous irony I seem to read in the Sanskrit (and this -— the chief delight of the original harmony) would disappear entirely in a

I have also translated the set verses of the original in a somewhat more formal manner than the prose sections — often keeping a metrical scheme, I rarely resort to rhyme, but often to artificial usages, which may increase the "Pracht und Glanz" of the translation

The pla/ is a harem comedy; though love is the predominant theme, it is not the same love as one sees played for all its pathos in the Sakuntala. The play often reads as a parody (in fact) of the "heavy" dramas; the King, suffering more from the surfeit of his harem, yet conceives a "novel" passion for another pretty face — he is about as "heroic" as the notion of a thirsty Noah.

At rhe same time, 1 have tried to give a literal translation, not embroidering or subtracting from the intended sense of the original — save possibly for a few epithets which are rendered otherwise or not at all, Occasionally I have used the excellent commentary of one of my editions to bring out a "meaning" not necessarily in the text itself ~~ but one which probably ought to be there» The same commentary has sometimes been used to decide between different possible interpretationso Even the stage directions have not been augmented, though it would have suited my purpose sometimes to do so (^iz "ironically", "stoically", resignedly" etc.)

Back to Mahfil/Journal of South Asian Literature | Back to the DSAL Page

This page was last generated on Monday 18 February 2013 at 12:41 by
The URL of this page is: