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Many Hues of Realism

Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr

Edited by Bh. Krishnamurti and C. Vijayashree
Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 2004, Rs. 225.00

VOLUME XXX NUMBER 12 December 2006

It appears that the editors of this anthology of English translation—Bh. Krsihnamurti, a linguistics man and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hyderabad, and C. Vijayashree, Professor of English at Osmania University—did not have much of a choice. They have translated a Telugu anthology put together by Vakati Panduranga Rao and Vedagiri Rambabu after a three-day workshop in 1997. This was published in 2001. Krishnamurti and Vijayashree have presented thirty of the original sixty published in the Telugu collection. It is to be taken that the English editors agreed with the choice made by the Telugu editors. Of course, the final rap and commendation for the anthology in this English version squarely belong to Krishna-murti and Vijayashree.   This might appear to be a trivial issue but it assumes importance after the Penguin edition of Telugu short stories edited by Ranga Rao, which was focused and sharp, and there was a critical awareness of the translation process as well. Those qualities which marked the Penguin edition are not to be found in this one as a general principle. It is not that we are looking for a manifesto of translation. The critical sensibility that we associate with an anthology seems to be absent here. And it appears to be more a bureaucratic failure, and no one but the Sahitya Akademi has to take the blame for it. It is strange that the Sahitya Akademi, which is in many ways a robustly independent body compared to the other Akademis has not learned to sharpen its skills of literary judgment and presentation.   This book presents short stories of the last sixty years—though it was originally selected to celebrate the 50 years of Independence—and they have been presented in a chronological order. That is a good  thing because as you read through you can sense the changes, not that there are too many of them or that they are too radical. The exceptions are, of course, Kolakuluri Enoch’s ‘The Village Well’ and Boya Jangayya’s ‘Ants’. They voice protest in a creative manner, and the authors have adopted a strategy of subterfuge as it were in their narratives. You are bowled over by the sheer vibrancy of the story, and the political message of revolution erupting unheralded is an afterthought as it were. And that is what good writing is all about—the purpose of the story is refracted, and the impact ...

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