OCCT Discussion Group: Atharva Argade-Miskin: “Translating the (Un)translatable: The Case of Khadilkar’s Mānāpamān (1911) and Marathi Musical Drama”

In this session of the Discussion Group, Atharva Argade-Miskin explores his findings from translating a number of Marathi musical plays from 1880 to 1920, never before translated into English, focussing on K. P. Khadilkar’s immensely successful and influential Mānāpamān (‘Honour and Dishonour’, 1911). There are a number of flashpoints in the play where patterns of speech, such as register, forms of address, and sayings, are particularly difficult to translate so that they would ‘read’ like English without losing too much of the original Marathi’s flavour. Argade-Miskin’s research investigates how imbricated sources of comprehension and appreciation complicate the concept of translation. There is first the direct understanding of the words themselves that engender an affective and intellectual response, then the highly significant influence of Shakespeare upon Khadilkar’s play, and any cultural understanding of Marathi culture that an English-speaking reader may possess, all of which combine to form a sort of extradiegetic narrative the translator must navigate. What makes Mānāpamān uniquely complex in this conversation, among other plays of the era, is their ubiquitous musicality, where there appears to be a constant tug-of-war between music or semantic meaning for superiority, particularly in songs of ornate lexis and loosened syntax in favour of metre and musical character. This ‘imbricated’ structure of how an audience receives and appreciates the plays proliferates the role of a translator as an interlocutor on linguistic, historical, cultural and intertextual levels, begging the question of whether any text is truly translatable or truly untranslatable.

Link: occt.web.ox.ac.uk/event/discussion-group-translating-the-untranslatable-the-case-of-khadilkars-manapaman-1911-and-mara