New lease of life for Bengali translation of ‘Don Quixote’ (Lead)

May 7th, 2009 - 4:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) Five hundred years after Spanish writer Cervantes brought to life the tales of knight errant Don Quixote in “El Ingenioso Hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha”, a professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) here gave the knight a new lease of life with an Indian reprint as part of the St George’s (San Jorge) Day celebrations.
The feast of St George, the patron saint of Catalonia, usually observed April 23, is also known as the International Books Day.

Shyama Prasad Ganguly, JNU professor and an authority on Spanish and Latin American literature, has re-edited the 1887 Indian adaptation of Cervantes’ Don Quixote, “Adbhut Digbijoy (Strange Conquest)” - a Bengali transcription of the novel by Bipin Behari Chakraborti.

The book was released by Gitanjali Chatterjee, secretary of the Sahitya Akademi, at the Instituto Cervantes in the capital Wednesday. It has been published by Kolkata-based publishing house Ebang Mushayera.

“Adbhut Digbijoy” tells the story of Kanti Ram, a Kshatriya (the Bengali Don Quixote), who decides to crusade against evil to deliver the world to light, with his family arms - a sword, a shield and a compass to measure distance. His friend, Golok Chand (Sancho Panza), a country yokel, accompanies him on his journey.

The Bengali adaptation spans the first three wars that the knight waged against injustice and his subsequent return after being persuaded by a priest (purut) and a barber (napit).

The Bengali imprint, said the editor, also has four “re-written chapters” which were missing from the original 360-page novel and a critical reception study that underlines the importance of this neglected text not only for its story-telling power but also for its significance in studying comparative cultures and establishing translation as a literary genre.

“I chanced upon this book when I was researching the response to Quixote in India. Thirty pages were missing and it was impossible to get the missing pages. I was magically drawn to this domesticated version of the book and decided to re-edit it. I asked a Bengali writer, Bitoshok Bhattacharjee, to write the four missing chapters,” Ganguly told IANS.

The book, the editor said, upholds all human emotions like love, suffering, deception and chivalry like Cervantes’ knight from la Mancha.

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