India and the World: Postcolonialism, Translation and Indian Literature

Edited by Ruth Vanita
Pencraft International, Delhi, 2014 pp.
275, Rs. 850.


The festschrift for Prof. Harish Trivedi, India and the World: Postcolonialism, Translation and Indian Literature is edited by his first PhD student, Ruth Vanita, Professor at University of Montana. Apart from his significant publications in the field of postcolonial literature and translation studies, Trivedi was instrumental in the revision of courses at University of Delhi that marked the paradigmatic shift from colonial to postcolonial, the deBritishization of the study of literature.

The 18 essays in the book have been divided into four sections: ‘Ways of Reading’, ‘Ways of Translating’, ‘The Text and the World’ and ‘East in West, West in East’. They cover the three fields to which Trivedi’s contribution is seminal, namely criticism of Indian literature, translation, and postcolonial studies. The contributors are prominent figures of these areas, including those who have engaged with these issues for years and young scholars. Significantly the essay writers by birth or work are connected to more than a dozen odd countries underlying the transnationality of these areas. 

The essays cover a whole range of issues in literary studies in the context of world literature: the use and function of literature; whether to read for aesthetic pleasure or social relevance; making of literary cannons; the shift from the colonial to postcolonial era; the role of translation as an instrument of literary transactions across nations, languages and cultures; the interaction between films and literary texts; the role of publishers, media and the award committees in creating the demand for a particular genre of literary text; a critique of the theory of the somewhat ‘megalomaniac and/or utopian’ novel; the relationship between literature and other human sciences; and the concern about decline of interest in literary studies all over the world because of their inability to contribute to ‘increasingly corporatising university’. 

The larger theoretical concerns are addressed by using diverse literary pieces: reflections on translating Hindi (Braj Bhāșā) poet Bihārī ’s Satsaī; reading of Hanuman Chalisa ‘as a Hymn to the Intellect’; reading of translations of Kalidasa’s Meghduta as a cultural transmission; and teaching the Ghazal in an American classroom. One senses a concern in the book at the ‘growing monolingualism of postcolonial studies’ leading to a domination of western literary theories and to the ‘marginalization and to the exclusion of non- Anglophone languages and cultures.’

T. C. Ghai
T. C. Ghai retired as Associate Professor of English from Deshbandhu (Evening) College,University of Delhi. He has extensive experience in teaching English and designing materials and syllabuses for schools and colleges. He is a creative writer and a translator.