Translation as Craft, as Recovery, as the Life and Afterlife of a Text: Sujit Mukherjee on Translation in India


  • Elena Di Giovanni University of Macerata - ITALY



Translation, Peripheries


Sujit Mukherjee passed away in 2003, having been an outstanding intellectual figure in India and beyond. A writer himself, but most of all a translator, Mukherjee contributed greatly to stirring the debate and reflection on translation in India. Although he quite humbly declared, on several occasions, that India never had such a thing as a theory of translation, his books and articles have traced the history of this activity and given shape to a metadiscourse on translation which is far from the abstractions of theories and full of the strength of the enlightened practitioner’s point of view. Mukherjee’s approach to the observation of translation practices is permeated by his modesty, his brisk simplicity and, above all, his relentless positivity. In his words, translation becomes a dynamic, pervasive and constructive practice, far from the subordinate and derivative essence so often ascribed to it by Western scholars. This paper brings to the fore the non-theories of Sujit Mukerjee and proceeds by discussing them along a chronological axis. Organized in three sections, the paper first analyses Mukherjee’s viewpoint on translation in India before the British, to then move onto translation and the role of English during and after colonization. The third and final section offers a comparison between Mukherjee’s ideas and reflections and those by three outstanding Western translation scholars.


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