CHAPTER FOUR: Atlas of Indo-German Fantasies
Book Release:
August 11th, 2005

An investigation into the translation and reproduction of Indian religious and philosophical texts in Germany

I am concerned with the cultural aspect of translation, the cultural negotiation of the text and not with the linguistic problems and effects of translation. I am interested to explore questions relating to three stages, the translation and re-writing of the text, its production: printing and publication; and the readership. I would like to explore as background, questions relating to literary and philosophical concerns, and also cultural concerns: why were these texts like the Bhagavad Gita chosen for translation? What was the objective of the translators? Why were they interested? In the next section I will look at the enterprise of publishing and producing these translated texts in Germany, who were the publishers, what did they hope to gain? What were the images/colours/iconography used? Was the intention to make the text seem unfamiliar/exotic (invoke a feeling of ‘fremdheit’) or to make it seem culturally familiar/easily assimilated (‘naturalise’ the text). In the third section I should like to focus on the readership, the social context/s from which they were drawn, how they would be likely to read it? The idea will not be to provide a detailed academic study, but more an overview of how such transfers (of a text from one place to another) and translations (of a text into a new version) influence culture, creating new forms and effects, producing a heterogeneous and hybrid cross-culture.

Mishka Sinha, M.Phil. in English literature, modern history scholar, writer. She is participating in different art and cultural projects for WSF 2005 and ICON (Indian Contemporary). She has been teaching Experience in Great Britain and India. Mishka Sinha is currently based in Bombay.





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