On Sreejata Guha's translation of Narendranath Mitra's story: The Substitute

Thanks very much for this translation of Narendranath Mitra's "Bikalpa" (বিকল্প). It's a great story and the translated version is easy to read and spontaneous.

Supratim Sarkar (supratim10...@gmail...)

Published March 3, 2013

On Anu Kumar's review: Beloved story teller of magic worlds: Three novellas of Lila Majumdar

I felt very happy to find this review of Lila Majumdar's books. I heard of this great writer for children, but not knowing Bengali (I am a native Kannada speaker) I could not access her work. I did read one story of her published by the NBT. It is a good reveiw indeed. Now I will go look for these books.

Thank You.

Anand Patil (aapa...@yahoo...)

Published February 27, 2013

On Oindrila Mukherjee's translation of Warm Rice or Just a Ghost Story, a short story by Sunil Gangopadhyay

An Excellent short story, and well translated. Extremely moving, and very complex. I congratulate the author and the translator. Glad I came across it, and thanks for providing it over the internet. Have bookmarked your page, and shall enjoy the other writings.

I have one request: Will you please let me know the 'time' in which the story is written? Pre-independence? Present era?

Thank You.

Yesudas (babay....@gmai...)

Published November 27, 2012

On Chhanda Bewtra's translation of Imperfect, a short story by Tilottama Majumdar

What a heart warming story. My words fail me... I can't explain my feelings. I can only say that after long, very long... perhaps after reading Obhagir Shorgo by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay in class 8, I have cried again after reading something. I hope that explains it all.

I've read your Salty too... Amazing.

Debalina Haldar (deblina...@gmai...)

Published October 29, 2012

I take the privilege to thank Ms. Chhanda Bewtra for such a beautiful translation. Specially the way the stanzas of Shakti Chattapadhyay and Rabindranath have been translated--amazing!

Kausik Bhaduri (kausikbh...@gma....)

Published August 16, 2012

On Chhanda Bewtra's translation of Salty, a short story by Tilottama Majumdar

There was a Bewtra in Antarctica
Who missed her penguins in America
So she looked for them in Timbuktu
And couldn’t find them in Petra zoo!
We knew her well for the wanderlust
But now I confess if I must
This touching tale of humankind
Is a story hard to find!

Nirupam Chakraborti (nchak...@gma...)

Published July30, 2012

On Sudipto Chatterjee's: In memoriam: Carol Salomon

ক্যারল সলোমন আমার বাংলা শিক্ষয়িত্রী ছিলেন ইউনিভার্সিটি অফ ওয়াশিংটন-এ। আমিও মার্কিনি মেয়ে, বাংলাভাষা ভালোবাসি। ওই ইউনিভার্সিটিতে আমি সাইকোলজি-তে পি,এইচ,ডি করেছিলাম। তাছাড়া, ক্যারলের কাছে বাংলা শিখেছিলাম। সিয়াটল ছাড়ার পরে আমরা খুব ভালো বন্ধু হয়েছিলাম। ওনার মারা যাবার দিনে [ক্যারলের স্বামী] রিচ আমাকে ফোন করেছিলেন। বিশ্বাস করতে কষ্ট হয়েছিল। ক্যারলের ওপরে লেখা শ্রদ্ধা-নিবেদনটি পড়ে ভীষণ ভালো লাগলো।

অশেষ ধন্যবাদ।

ম্যারিয়ান চ্যাটার্জি (

Published March 7, 2012

On Carol Salomon's translation of Lalon's songs

I liked the translations. Is it possible to have both the original poems in Bengali and the English translations side by side?

Mozibur Ullah (ullah.moz@gma...)

We will try to update the pages with the Bengali originals.-- Editor

Published March 7, 2012

On Anu Kumar's review of Saratchandra Chattopadhyay's The Last Question: 'Once when I was a woman!'

Anu Kumar's otherwise excellent review of Saratchandra's "Shes Prashna" (শেষ প্রশ্ন) bypasses his fascination for young widows of Brahmin caste, that colored his attitude to women in general. Kumar also overlooks the great "tusitala's", that is, the "galpadadu's" intellectual background (whatever it is). As I conclude in chapter seven of my forthcoming biography "The Life of Sharatchandra Chattopadhyay: Drifter and Dreamer" (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press/Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2012, page 79), this typical woman- centered novella of Chattopadhyay has a story that is "discordant and full of surprises and the characters custom made to act out their part as assigned by the author....The sad and ironical part of the novel is that even though it was intended to provide some vitality for the intellect ['intellect-er balakarak aharya']...Sharatchandra's 'Final Question' purveys neither a clear query nor a cogent response. It, alas, is une question mal posse--a question badly posed--and poorly answered."

Narasingha P. Sil (sil...@mail.wou......)

Published March 7, 2012

On Srilata Banerjee's interview with Anu Kumar: Lila Majumdar: A Granddaughter Remembers

জানি না, লীলা মজুমদারের পরম ভক্ত বলেই কিনা, শ্রীলতার মুখে তাঁর দিদিভাইয়ের গপ্পো পড়ে চোখে জল এল। দিদিভাইয়ের গুণও শ্রীলতা বেশ পেয়েছেন দেখছি; ওই যে, চট করে কাউকে বন্ধু করে নেওয়া! ছেলেবেলায় 'সন্দেশ'-এর এক অনুষ্ঠানে আমাদের আপনার লীলাদি একবার মাথার চুলে বিলি কেটে আদর করেছিলেন। এই লেখা পড়ে সেই স্পর্শ আবার অনুভব করলাম। সাবাস!

দীপঙ্কর চৌধুরী (cdpn..@red...)

Published November 24, 2011

On Sankha Ghosh's poem Just this one, translated by Bhismadev Chakrabarti

Normally translation of a poem is a difficult affair. But this one is an exception. It is done with an ease. Beautiful.

Kausik Bhaduri (kaska...@rediff....)

Published November 24, 2011

What a great poem, thank you so much.

Tanguene (franciscola...@hotma..)

Published November 4, 2011

Nice translation.

Paulami Sengupta (paulam...@gma..)

Published November 4, 2011

On Sudhindranath Dutta

Please correct the spelling of the essay books - "Kulay O Kalpurush" (কুলায় ও কালপুরুষ). It has propagated to wikipedia also from parabaas. Please update that too.

Kamala P. Das (k.p.d...@iee...)

Thank you for pointing out the typo. It has been corrected in Parabaas. -- Editor.

Published November 24, 2011

On Sumana Das Sur's essay Two Women Writers of the Bengali Diaspora: Ketaki Kushari Dyson and Dilara Hashem

The article does not attempt to highlight the distinguishing earmarks of what has been curiously dubbed fiction of the Bengali diaspora with special reference to the UK and the USA. I'm a struggling Kolkata-based Bengali author myself, both in the financial and literary sense of the phrase, with nearly a dozen unpublished novels and hundreds of short stories gathering dust in my trunk. I am unpublished because no publsher would touch me because no one reads Bengali anymore. But I suppose I can still move to one of the aforementioned countries and re-invent myself as a Bengali diasporic path to literary fame and (perhaps) fortune. All things considered, a halfhearted shoddy job, this article.

Sarbani Majumdar (Sarbanimaj...@rediff...)

Published August 19, 2011

The author's response:

This can hardly be called a “feedback” on my article. Smt. Sarbani Majumdar is simply trashing me as a critic as well as the authors I have written about. She is clearly frustrated in her literary ambitions and is venting her anger on me. It is true that less people are reading serious literature everywhere in the world and are spending more and more time in the cyber-world. But good, bad, and mediocre stuff continues to get published in magazines and books, including in Bengali. Many people are writing and getting published. According to an interview recently granted by the noted scholar Udaya Narayana Singh, Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam have the largest markets among the Indian languages. They have more readers, listeners and buyers, and a large print and television media back-up with an equally large music industry. “Indian English” could be added to this list as well.

Sarbani Majumdar has three options in front of her. She can try harder to enter the substantial Bengali print market by catching the attention of Bengali magazines and publishers or by publishing her work herself; she can submit her work to on-line Bengali magazines; she can enter the thriving market of Indian English; she can emigrate and re-invent herself as a diasporic writer in whatever language she chooses. But it helps nobody to be sarcastic about those Bengalis who are doing their best to continue to write in their mother tongues even when they have settled abroad. I think we should be proud of them.

Published August 19, 2011

On Oindrila Mukherjee's translation Warm rice or just a ghost story

I reminisce those days of late 70’s, when Sunil Gangopadhyay's ‘Garam bhaat othoba ekti bhuter golpo’ was released as a Hindi art film. The role of Suren was play-acted by Om Puri, those nerve- shivering catchphrases “ek ek bhut shaw rupayia”! Unfortunately I could never manage to go through the original writing. This time I could, as a maiden reader! Thanks to Parabaas sOmpadOk!

To talk of translation, it is a marvelous piece of work! So lucid is the language, so nice are the selections of words, so vividly preserved the contextual backdrop pictured in the original, of rural Bengal. Literal translation of those occasional slangs, to keep the original flavor of rustic nitty-gritty of rural Bengal, a boldness indeed. It is a commendable work, kudos to the translator.

More to say, the illustrations by Nilanjana Basu, with the use of light and deep black color, are wonderful. I praise the artwork.

Kausik Bhaduri (kaskab...@rediff...)

Published July8, 2011

On Indranil Dasgupta's translation The Trip to Heaven

This story by Sunil Gangopadhyay is awesome. I loved it!

Rupali (rupali.252...@rediff...)

Published July8, 2011

On Sumana Das Sur's Two Women Writers of the Bengali Diaspora: Ketaki Kushari Dyson and Dilara Hashem

[Letter from Ketaki Kushari Dyson]

The discourse on the subject of diasporic writing in Bengali was actually begun by me in the last century, and Sumana Das Sur does in fact acknowledge that fact, citing references. Sumana was inspired by my essays on this subject, my own literary work, and conversations with me to find her new research project. I have just returned from the 31st North American Bengali Conference, which was held at Baltimore, Maryland, over 1/2/3 July, and where I had been invited to talk about the phenomenon of Bengali writing in diaspora and my experiences within it. It will therefore not be inappropriate if I join this discussion at this stage. (more)

Ketaki Kushari Dyson (ketaki.dys...@virgil...)

Published July 8, 2011

I was reading Ranjan Ghose’s letter (see below in this trail—-Editor) and the author’s rebuttal. One simple query came to my mind. Mr. Webster is usually right, and he says di·as·po·ra noun \dī-ˈas-p(ə-)rə, dē-\ means ‘people settled far from their ancestral homelands’. I wonder if the definition applies to first generation immigrants like Dr. Ketaki Kushari Dyson, for whom India is not just her ‘ancestral homeland’, but it was her own homeland for a very considerable period of time, particularly during her most important formative years, which perhaps made all the difference in the world! If that is so, then why should I consider her to be a member of this unique set called Diaspora that she now has to share with, say, Jhumpa Lahiri, for whom India is certainly the ‘ancestral’ homeland?

Many of us have enough, perhaps equal, east-west experience, irrespective of where we choose to live and that really doesn’t qualify us to become the members of Diaspora of any kind. I was wondering if Professor Das Sur’s choice of this word as a descriptor for authors like Dr. Dyson actually does justice to the implicature, or even the literal meaning of the term. Finally, why this statement ‘Some Bengalis use to think that scholarly books cannot be written in their mother tongue!’? Nothing in Ranjan Ghose’s letter that I could fathom, calls for it and till now, there is no real shortage of Bengalis who are very proudly bilingual!

Nirupam Chakraborti (nchakra...@gma...)

Published July1, 2011

Thank you for the most interesting essay. It gave me a new view of the Bengalis living outside Bengal.

As a translator of Tagore (his English poems) I am always curious to learn more about his life. Some years ago I read 'In Your Blossoming Flower-Garden: Rabindranath Tagore and Victoria Ocampo' by Ketaki Kushari Dyson; it is a profound study and a document but for me it was a thriller. So it was fascinating to find out more about 'Rabindranath o Victoria Ocampor Sandhaney'– the novel that Ketaki Kushari Dyson had written at the same time and on the same theme.

There are thought-provoking ideas of Khachig Tölölyan (the theorist of the diaspora studies) in the essay, for instance this: ‘Tölölyan finds a new dimension of modernity among diasporic people. He shows that those who have had to leave their native lands for political, social, or religious reasons are moulded into new shapes by the heat and pressure of their new environments, thereby acquiring a new identity, and the entire modern world is moving precisely towards that kind of identity.’

Dilara Hashem’s characters show, too, that people can do new things in new surroundings, due to their being away from the land of their birth. So why wouldn’t they also write new kinds of books?

Hannele Pohjanmies (h.pohjan...@gma...)

Published June, 2011

A good, well-written essay, and a good introduction to the subject. Ketaki Kushari Dyson is a major Bengali writer who has been writing in both Bengali & English for, well, many, many years, and thus the weird and unseemly qualifier "diaspora" in connection with her considerable literary output of a consistently high quality actually diminishes her. The genre Bengali diasporic writing is problematic. Most writing that falls under this rubric is of a consistently low quality, and conveys the impression that the writer turned to "writing" as a default option. The other writer discussed in the article, Dilara Hashem, I never heard of. On the whole, Bengali diasporic literature is a frivolous subject, not worthy of scholarly treatment in a lengthy essay.

Ranjan Ghose (ranjanm...@rediff...)

Published June, 2011

The author's response:

I am thankful to Mr. Ranjan Ghose that he has read my article and I appreciate his comments. I just humbly want to disagree with his comment, "Bengali diasporic literature is a frivolous subject, not worthy of scholarly treatment in a lengthy essay." In fact I am going to write a whole book on this subject, not only an essay, after completion of my research. It is true that all are not good quality writings, but can we say that all so called 'literary works' which are being published every year in Kolkata are up to the mark! In fact, I have got substantial amount of materials on which I can work. If Mr. Ghose is interested, I can inform him after my book gets published, though it will be written in Bengali. (Some Bengalis use to think that scholarly books cannot be written in their mother tongue! And those which are already written are not worth reading.)

Dilara Hashem is a major writer, originally from Bangladesh. In my opinion she is a very powerful novelist of contemporary Bengali literature. Mr. Ghose hasn't heard of her, fine. Now he has, after reading my article. If he wants, he can collect and read Dilara's books.
Published June, 2011

On Palash Baran Pal's translation The room on the third floor:

As the original Bengali title of this short story was "Tintolar ghor" (তিনতলার ঘর), I reckon the English title "The room on the second floor" would have been more apt.

Dipanjan Datta (dipanjan...@yahoo..)

The translator's response:

Just going by the title, this is an example of how a faithful translation can mean different things to readers in different places. In India and UK one thing and in the USA, another. But the reader should have noted that the first paragraph of the story itself explains "third floor" quite clearly.

Published July1, 2011

On Sankha Ghosh:

The name 'Sankha Ghosh' is very familiar to me right from my boyhood because of my uncle (Jyathamashaya) Late Nirmal Chandra Bardhan, ex-teacher of Pakshi School (now in Bangladesh). My uncle was also his private tutor. I think Shri Sankha ghosh was the dearest student of my uncle. I have heard a lot from him about Shri Ghosh and his legendary father, the ex-head master of the aforesaid school. Shri Sankha Ghosh came to our residence twice in 1992/1993 to meet his respectable teacher and presented a few famous books written by him and his illustrious father. Late Nirmal Ch. Bardhan started writing a memoir on his association with the 'Ghosh' family at Pakshi (an eminent Railway town). But he could not finish it because of his physical infirmity. I am trying to preserve it. Now I wish to send the same to Shri Sankha Ghosh (my idol) as a token of my reverence.

Prithwijit Bardhan (p3bdn..@rediffm... )

Published July1, 2011

On Ashapurna Debi - Biographical sketch:

It is mentioned in the write-up that Ashapurna Debi was awarded the Sahitya Akademi award which is not true. The first Bengali woman writer to get the award was Kamal Das as far as I know. If Ashapurna Debi had indeed got Sahitya Akademi award, would you please inform the year and the book for which it was given?

As a translator of her works into Malayalam, this would help me in updating/rewriting her profile.

K. Radhakrishnan (ayira...@gmai...)

Yes, you are indeed right. We have corrected the mistake. Thank you. — Editor.

Published June, 2011

On Meenakshi Mukherjee:

Meenakshi Mukherjee has taken a serious note of the Indian way of shaping the studies and approach towards English Literature. I also feel the views of Meenakshi should be fathomed further, authentically. I mean her ideas must not be besmeared with unbridled interpretation.

Rajesh Babu (raj28.r...@gma....)

Published June, 2011

On Somdatta Mandal's translation Lalu (2) by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay:

Loved it.Hilarious :) Keep up the nice work.

Sarita (sarita.k...@wipro...)

Published June, 2011

After looking at Sue Darlow's beautiful pictures of Nirad C. Chaudhuri, I started browsing the Parabaas Translations page and found Presenjit Gupta's translation of Joy Goswami's poem: Things recalled at Night.

Reading that brought back to me the lovely evening at Cornell University only a couple of weeks ago where we had Joy Goswami reading some of his poetry. He began with Things Recalled (in the original Bengali) and then there was a reading of this English translation of Gupta's by another person. I had always thought that the best readers of poetry (even their own) were those with strong, persuasive voices. But Goswami defied all that. He has such a gentle voice (and manner) and yet he had us all spellbound. The words wafted out to us and the darkening evening skies only added to the soothing last lines of the poem. Suddenly the funeral pyre did not seem all that terrifying. He also read several other poems but I found this first one that he read the best. I had always thought that only a Richard Burton could do for a perfect poetry recitation, but I've changed my views now.

Thanks for a great translations site. And while I'm at it, may I recommend another wonderful read to the other visitors: A Wife's Letter. This translation [of Tagore's short story] captures the spirit of the original in a way that answers some of the questions raised in the periodic discussions we often have in literary circles of the virtues and vices of the translated poem or story.

Alaka Basu
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
Published September 30, 2003

Just a brief note to say that I enjoyed reading Ketaki Kushari Dyson's article How hard should we try? – Questions of detail in literary translation . Her perceptive, illuminating discussion confirms my long-held conviction that a good translator needs to be equally competent in both languages, and that, in most cases, mere technical competence is not sufficient, indeed a great deal more is needed. In Ketaki K. Dyson's case, one enviable advantage is that she is a poet herself, besides being equally at home in both languages, incredibly well-read, and therefore quite equipped to detect resonances which would be missed by others. I have read her other articles in Parabaas as well.

Amit Raychaudhuri
Alexandria, VA, USA
Published September 30, 2003

aami bengali noy, kintu ektu boozte pari.[I am not a Bengali, but I can understand a little.] I have enjoyed Ashapurna Debi's short story Grieving for Oneself translated by Prasenjit Gupta. In a way, though my mother-tongue is Gujarati, I have read some of her works in the original and had the opportunity to meet her in Delhi when she came there to receive her Gyanpeeth Award. Her style is lucid and simple. Her choice of subject is unparelleled. Though I read it by chance in Parabaas, I shall try to read other stories and articles whenever I can. Anyway, khoob bhalo laglo..

Digambar Swadia
Published September 30, 2003

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