Friday, January 31, 2020

Critique of the Ramayana Modern Prose Translation Essay Example for Free

Critique of the Ramayana Modern Prose Translation Essay In a just world, Mr. R. K. Narayan’s estate would be responsible for reimbursing seventeen-fifty, plus applicable taxes, to all those who purchased the Penguin Classics 2006 publication of his book, The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic. Stated clearly on the back of the cover is the promise that R. K. Narayan â€Å"recounts [The Ramayana] with the narrative flair of a master novelist’’. The back cover lied. Narayan’s re-telling condenses the epic poem so much to the point of nearly listing a series of events. No matter the inspiration, Narayan’s The Ramayana is still a story, and should therefore be able to stand on it’s own as a captivating tale—with further literary research or expansion being used to enhance it’s appeal, not explain it. Arguably, the ‘narrative flair’ of this re-telling is little more expressive than unsolicited summaries found on the Internet, and without further literary aide or instruction, does not stand as a solid piece of literature. What is worse, is that instead of allowing a greater breadth of readers to relate and experience tale of the Ramayana, new readers are alienated by it’s convoluted atmosphere. While the task is grand, Narayan’s translation is not listed as an aide to a larger, more in-depth version; it is still a novel and as such needs to be able to stand strong in its own right when evaluated alone. People who have no prior knowledge of the original Sanskrit story, and who have not been raised with the Hindu epic as a part of their life, should be able to pick up this book, read it, and—regardless of how far the tale may go in global history—be able to enjoy one hundred and fifty one pages of literature, without having any prior knowledge, or requiring further research. Having more knowledge, and doing more research on the original epic tale should increase what readers are able to receive from the book, but it should not be necessary in order to understand it. As it stands, without knowing the original tale, new readers are left with very little literary flow and a patchy depiction of what is supposed to be a lush world. At one point, while Bharatha and Rama argue as to who should be the rightful king, their entire episode is related with: â€Å" The argument went on at a highly academic and philosophical level, the entire assembly watching with respect. (Narayan 60) That assertion does not express a deep academic and philosophical argument, but rather states that one was occurring; the reader doesn’t get to experience what transpired between the brothers, or garner any emotion from it. It goes on to almost quite literally depict the event with a he-said/he-said monotony: So be it; if I have the authority—then I confer it on you as the ruler,† said Bharatha at one stage. â€Å"On my command as the ruler, if you desire to think so, you shall be the King. † It went on thus. Rama went on repeating that there could be no word higher than that of a father; no conduct other than obedience to it. Throughout he referred to Kaikeyi in the gentlest terms and always as â€Å"mother†. (Narayan 61) The listed manner in which the plot is unfolded by Narayan’s re-telling is barely more narrative as a piece of literature than an excerpt from that of the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia: Bharatha refuses to profit from his mothers wicked scheming and visits Rama in the forest. He requests Rama to return and rule. But Rama, determined to carry out his fathers orders to the letter, refuses to return before the period of exile. However, Bharatha carries Ramas sandals, and keeps them on the throne, while he rules as Ramas regent. (Wikipedia Contributors) There is very little more efficiency or flair in Narayan’s telling, and in fact, Wikipedia depicts the stages of the long tale with better clarity; if the prose is not going to be linguistically lush and evocative, it may as well be clear (Wikipedia is not only clear, but free of charge as well). It is of course not a simple task to undertake translating an epic poem from a rhythmic language, into prose with a language devoid of the same musicality. However, to the novice reader of The Ramayana, they would not know the difficulty of the task, and thus—however harsh it may seem— should not be a factor in the reviewing of the story as it stands alone. Narayan was by no means an incapable writer, and as winner of numerous awards and accolades—not the least of which being multiple nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature (Rajnish Wattas), he does not need defending that he has great ability as a writer, yet the bottom line remain that when it is stripped of further discussion, research, and introductions, The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic just does not stand on it’s own as captivating modern prose. With nearly each new episode of the tale, Narayan prefaces the action with even more listed information, take for example the introduction to the chapter of Vali: The characters in the drama that follows are Vali, Sugreeva, Hanuman, and Rama. The action takes place in the mountainous forest regions of Kiskinda, a kingdom ruled and inhabited by monkeys. In the Ramayana, the articipants are not only human beings, but many others from God’s creation, intelligent, cultured and with their own achievements of spirit as well as physique: Jambavan was a bear, Jatayu was an eagle, Lakshmana—Rama’s brother—was himself a human incarnation of the Great Serpent Adisesha in whose coils Vishnu rested. (Narayan 90) Again, the story is told by listing statements of what is going on. As with the landscape, and even the characters themselves, nothing is depicted in the story-writing of the prose, but stated, as if the entire epic was a news article being reported by Narayan, as opposed to a vivid history with grand escapades and extreme characters. By translating an epic tale from poetic verse into shortened modern prose, the objective is ultimately to enable a broader audience to relate to and appreciate a classic tale. Poetry is a secluded literary world that does not have the mass appeal that modern prose does; yet Narayan’s re-telling is too constrained and overwhelmed by the amount of story condensed into it. By trying to constrain the length of the story to allow for more readers to get through it, Narayan’s ‘master narrative flair’ seems lost, and the epic tale is a heavy list of events that merely occur on the page.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.