Published:  12:51 AM, 24 February 2019

Sheer gold of a translation

Sheer gold of a translation Boro Ranimar Sheshkrityanusthan O Onnyanno Galpo Gabriel Garcia Marquez Translator: Tusar Talukder DHRUBAPADA Amar Ekushey Gronthomela, 2017

Liton Chakraborty Mithun

Translation, in my opinion, is an act of worship. It asks for devotion and diligence on the part of the translator. It demands an enactment of his linguistic skills and cultural understanding. It is not just taking a walk in the park. You need to go an extra mile to make sure you have done justice to the original while making the end result a piece of creativity. Going through Boro Ranimar Sheshkrityanusthan O Onnyanno Galpo, a collection of Gabriel Garcia Marquez' stories in Tusar Talukder's translation, I was just wowed by the translator's immense power of literary grasp, linguistic capacity and creative self.

Garcia Marquez is a global literary icon who needs no introduction. His literary pieces have cut across geo-political boundaries to mesmerize millions around the world. Naturally, they have been translated into different languages including Bengali from the original Spanish. However, not all translations have been worth the while. Personally, I am not a big fan of most texts glutting the market passing off as Bengali translation of foreign language works.

It is because I feel irritated much the same way as I hear the voiceover of foreign language documentaries dubbed in (funny sounding and awkwardly phrased) Bengali on a few TV networks. Translation is not easy-peasy, man! You have to triple-bluff the audience by making them feel that the text at hand is actually an original piece or, at least, a local version of a foreign text. On this count, I reckon, Tusar Talukder has done a job worth multiple thumbs-up.

What sets Tusar's this particular translation apart is primarily his use of language in terms of selection of words, syntax patterns and the pace of prose. His employment of colloquial words, slangs and street language where necessary is his masterstroke. It has a natural grace about it. Plus, he retains quite a few English words as they were. It might have been clumsy had he attempted to translate them into Bengali.

However, he coins a few Bengali equivalents of English terms, which will certainly add to the Bengali vocabulary. In addition, he proves an ear for music as he has masterly maintained the musical aspects of Garcia Marquez' language in his translation. By the same token, his prose runs at a freewheeling ease. This positive assessment does not mean that the translation has no blind spots and faults.

There are of course a few shortcomings in the piece that could have been certainly bypassed. One of them is a typically perennial problem of a large chunk of Bangladeshi printed work, namely spelling mistake or typo. A rigorous self-editing, by default, may be a way out. Tusar's item has quite a few spelling mistakes that demand careful handling once it goes for reprinting. To my dismay, Tusar has applied a Sanskrit-heavy diction on a few occasions, which should give way to simpler everyday expressions. The prose will pick up a better pace if done so.

Now let me offer you my opinion on the import of translation in general and this piece of translation in particular. In a highly globalized world of ours, it is very important for us to know others' cultures and world views into which literature can offer a window. Translation can make literature accessible to those who do not share the language in which it is originally written.

Thus, translators can play a pivotal role in facilitating the bridging of the gap between cultures and promoting transnational understanding. For us Bangladeshis, Latin America and Africa are sisterly places. We share multifold aspects of cultural and historical experience. Garcia Marquez being a literary ambassador of his continent is a relevant figure for us as well. Translation of his work into Bengali, therefore, is an act of generosity.

To round up, I have had a pleasant experience reading Tusar Talukder's translation of the aforementioned collection of Garcia Marquez' stories. This book contains blurbs from Dr. Fakrul Alam and Dr. Abdul Hai Siddique. It also has an interview with Dr. Syed Manzoorul Islam that offers insights into the impact and import of the Latin American literary doyen. I wish the book a big readership. I also expect that Tusar Talukder will turn into a literary maven over time with translation as one of his calling cards.


The reviewer teaches English at Central Women's University and can be reached at [email protected]



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