Colonial Authority and Tamiḻ Scholarship : A Study of the First English Translations book cover
1st Edition

Colonial Authority and Tamiḻ Scholarship
A Study of the First English Translations

Edited By

CT Indra



  • Available for pre-order on June 20, 2023. Item will ship after July 11, 2023
ISBN 9781032399522
July 11, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge India
224 Pages 29 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book — an English translation of a key Tamil book of literary and cultural criticism — looks at the construction of Tamil scholarship through the colonial approach to Tamil literature as evidenced in the first translations into English.

The Tamil original Atikāramum tamiḻp pulamaiyum: Tamiḻiliruntu mutal āṅkila moḻipeyarppukaḷ by N Govindarajan, is a critique of the early attempts   at translation of Tamil literary texts by East India Company officials, specifically by N E Kindersley. Kindersley who was working as the Collector of South Arcot district in the late eighteenth century, was the first colonial officer to translate the Tamil classic Tirukkural into English and to bring to the reading public in English to the vibrant oral narrative tradition in Tamil. F. W.  Ellis in the nineteenth century brought in another dimension through his translation of the same classic. The book, thus, focuses on the attempts to translate the Tamil literary tradition and on the Tamil reading community by the Company’s officials who emerged as the pioneering English Dravidianists. Theoretically grounded, the book makes use of contemporary perspectives to examine colonial interventions and the operation of power relations in the literary and socio-cultural spheres. It combines both critical readings of past translations and the intensive research work on Tamil scholarship to present an idea of locating the practice of literary works in South Asia and its colonial history, which then enables a conversation between our literary cultures. In this book, the author has not only explored all key scholarly sources as well as the commentaries that were used by the colonial officials, chiefly Kindersley, but also gives us an insightful critique of the Tamil work.   The highlight of the discussion of Dravidian Orientalism in this book is the intralinguistic opposition of the ‘mainstream’ Tamil literature in 'correct/ poetical ' Tamil and the folk literature in ‘vacana’ Tamil. This framework allows the translators to critically engage with the work.

Annotated and with an Introduction and a Glossary, this translated work is a valuable addition to our reading of colonial South India. This book will be of interest to researchers of Tamil Studies, Orientalism and Indology, translation studies, oral literature, linguistics, South Asian Studies, Dravidian Studies, and colonial history.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Rethinking Dravidian Orientalism 1. Researching India and Knowing the Tamiḻ Region 2. Life of Kindersley 3. Tirukkuṟaḷ – The Ocean of Wisdom 4. The History of King Naḷa 5. Hegemonic Scholarship. Bibliography: English. Bibliography: Tamiḻ in Transliteration and in English Translation

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Editor(s)

Biography

CT Indra has taught in the Department of English, University of Madras, Chennai, for over three decades. She was a Fulbright post-doctoral Fellow at Harvard (1980-81) and American Studies Research Fellow at University of California, Santa Barbara (1990). Her areas of interest are Literary Criticism and Theory, Translation and Hagiography. She has translated from Tami? into English short stories, plays, a novella and critical writings. 

Prema Jagannathan is an Associate Professor of English (retired) and former dean of academic affairs, Stella Maris College, Chennai. Her areas of interest include Indian Fiction, Bhakti Literature, Translation Studies, and Communicative English.

 

Reviews

"The book, until now available only in Tamil, paints a picture of Orientalist scholarship as it crystallized in the late-eighteenth century, prior to the discovery by Ellis of the existence of the Dravidian family of languages. At the same time, Dr Govindarajan redeems the fate of Tamil works and the often anonymous Tamil authors who composed in colloquial Tamil and in a mostly oral literary and cultural milieu. One might say that Kindersley was a forerunner of the post-Orientalist, post-colonial scholars of south Indian languages who have expanded the horizons of early modern south Indian cultures far beyond the prevalent grammatical and dialectal norms."

David Shulman, Professor Emeritus, Hebrew University, Jerusalem