Murty Classical Library scouting for translators

Published - September 18, 2011 10:28 pm IST - MANGALORE:

The Murty Classical Library of India (MCLI), set up about a year ago to bring the classical literature of India to a global audience, is now scouting for good translators, said Rohan Narayana Murty, son of Infosys Chairman-Emeritus N.R. Narayana Murty. It has been difficult to get good translators and people can submit their proposals to the MCLI for translating. “Anyone approach send us, even now. That would be fantastic,” he told The Hindu .

Mr. Rohan Murty, who is leading the setting up of the MCLI, established through an endowment from Rohan Narayana Murty and the Murty family, said: “We are looking for good book translators or else we can't put the books on the shelves. They are classics, not contemporary Kannada or Tamil.” However, he said he was optimistic about being able to find the translators. “I am confident that we can do it...David Shulman [Indologist] and Professor Pollock [who heads HUP's MCLI editorial board] will know,” he said.

While Mr. Murty is directing the project, the actual translation work is being done by others. “I am not involved in the scholarly aspect...the strategic direction is mine,” he said. The MCLI will provide new English-language translation of works written in Bangla, Hindi, Pali, Punjabi, Persian, Sanskrit, Tamil, and other Indic languages.

‘Greater clarity'

He said there would be “greater clarity after one year” about which books would be translated. One work that had been identified was the Kamba Ramayanam . “We want the world to be able to read Kamba Ramayana in Pali,” he said.

The books would have facing-page translations. They would feature the original Indian classic, in the relevant Indic script, on one side of the page and the English translation on the other side. The translated works would be created in digital format first and then hard copies would be made.

Speaking about the format of the books, Sharmila Sen, Executive Editor-at-Large, Harvard University Press, said that Professor Pollock, the General Editor of the MCLI and the William B. Ransford Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, solicits, vets, and approves the translations. There was no separate editorial partner in India and HUP is solely responsible for the project, she said.


Ms. Sen said that the plan was to price the books “very competitively.” “That plan is still on for both South Asia and the rest of the world. We want these books to be affordable. That is the Loeb Classical Library model and we want MCLI to follow that model,” she said in an email. The Loeb Classical Library is a series of books that has translated original texts in Greek and Latin literature into English.

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