ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Language games, publishing chances – Krishna Baldev Vaid’s self-translation of “Bimal urf jāeṁ to jāeṁ kahāṁ” into “Bimal in Bog”


Vuille Rosine-Alice - Université de Lausanne, Section de langues et civilisations slaves et de l'Asie du Sud, Lausanne, Switzerland


20 – Self-translation, translating the self: Multilingual writers in South Asia


 Krishna Baldev Vaid (1927-2020) may well be the first name to spring to mind when it comes to self-translating modern Hindi writers. Vaid has extensively translated – the works of others and his own. While discussing translations of his own works and of those of others in an interview for Penguin India in 2017, he states: “it seems to me now that all good translations are, to varying degrees, transcreations.” In his process of self-translation, Vaid leaves room for new ideas, puns, and associations of ideas possible only in the target language. He is thus creating his own texts anew. 

His own translation of his 1972-Hindi novel “Bimal urf jāeṁ to jāeṁ kahāṁ” into “Bimal in Bog” is particularly interesting in that respect. It was published before the Hindi text due to Vaid’s difficulties in finding a Hindi publisher. Both texts play with words and styles. But the transcreator must somehow adapt to a new language and, arguably, to another readership. Through a close reading of selected passages, the paper will investigate Vaid’s language games and how these can inform the understanding of “Bimal urf jāeṁ to jāeṁ kahāṁ” / “Bimal in Bog”. Or should one speak here of two distinct novels? The paper will also ask what role the publishing context plays in such transcreations.