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Reading La Plaça del diamant in Hindi

by Sameer Rawal
When a hindi reader comes across a novel like ‘La Plaça del diamant’, one cannot stop to think in the universality of literature. Though the reader knows that the novel’s place of occurrence is a foreign land, whose culture and values are mostly unknown, the original language is also completely different and that his or her situation (historical, linguistic, social etc.) is diametrically set apart from that of the novel, he or she cannot stop to marvel that the novel can be understood as clearly as water. Understanding implies here imbibing the novel, not only at a superficial level, where the translation to hindi is an important factor, but at a deeper level, as if touching the source of the novel, its essence, knowing what the writer would have wanted to say, like a well played symphony, a direct contact between the interior of the novel and of one’s own self.

In other words, it does not seem that the place of occurrence of the incidences in the novel are unknown and lie thousands of miles away where people speak a completely foreign language; it could have happened in the hindi speaking world. It could have been the woman who lives just around the corner, it could have been a civil war here, or a poor family here whose husband dies. The characters are so real for India, even though they live somewhere else. What they think, speak, or perform are perfectly understandable. Some of these actions may not be permitted or looked down upon or on the other hand even admired in India, socially, intellectually or morally, but there are always exceptions, which might be allowed, though they may not need the permission too; it seems that if one thinks one would be doing exactly the same in a different space-time continuum.

There could be a few conclusions. Literature of a high quality, well versed into the intricacies of the human mind and nature, and capable of creating a communication between the core of the novel and the ‘inside’ of the reader. Universality of the interior landscape of human beings, making the work readable, understandable in other languages and across different cultures. Demystification of the possible impossibility of mutual understanding between different cultures and people. Creation of a live contact between the readers of the translated work and the culture to which the original work belongs, by way of a reference. Pleasure.

The novel also gives rise to the acceptance of the ‘foreign’, the ‘difference’, and one has to emphasize that the ‘distinction’ should in no way be thought of as a fuzzy division, or tending to be one. Understanding something in a sense is assimilating it, with all the separateness that it beholds, and not making it ‘one’ with one’s own self. ‘Hira Chok’ (La Plaça del diamant) in hindi achieves this objective as well.

Mercè Rodoreda, fotògraf desconegut, 1980 (AHCB-AF)
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