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Preface to Translation of Ponniyin Selvan

PONNIYIN SELVAN was written by Kalki Krishnamoorthy in 1951, and the theme is based on the Chola period of 10th century in ancient Tamil Nadu. This is a magnum opus comprising of 5 parts, (with the 5th part having two books), making it in total 6 books. Kalki is perhaps the most popular Tamil author of contemporary literature. He is also the most researched upon author of contemporary Tamil literature. Ponniyin Selvan is one of the epic books that he had authored.

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Preface to Translation of Ponniyin Selvan

PONNIYIN SELVAN was written by Kalki Krishnamoorthy in 1951, and the theme is based on the Chola period of 10th century in ancient Tamil Nadu. This is a magnum opus comprising of 5 parts, (with the 5th part having two books), making it in total 6 books.

Kalki is perhaps the most popular Tamil author of contemporary literature. He is also the most researched upon author of contemporary Tamil literature. Ponniyin Selvan is one of the epic books that he had authored.

For decades I have regretted the fact that non-Tamilian book-lovers do not have the privilege of reading the works of the great Kalki, and especially about how they were missing a magnum opus like Ponniyin Selvan. This of course remains the most favourite epic for thousands of readers of my generation. I consider this as the best treatise I have read in any language, and I can humbly claim that I have had the opportunity to read literature in Tamil, English, Hindi and Sanskrit. Nothing in my mind can compare to Ponniyin Selvan when it comes to contemporary literature.

In my anxiety that people who do not know Tamil should not be deprived of the pleasure and privilege of reading Ponniyin Selvan, I started translating the magnum opus three years back.

While translating, I have kept to the principle of keeping the simplicity, poignancy, and spirit of every word of the epic. To that extent, while I have attempted a literal translation, I have tried my best to keep the spirit of the work, in every word, sentence, paragraph, chapter and context. Nothing at all, not even a word, has been in any way changed to suit the English language; at the same time, I can confidently claim that the presentation in English language has also been equally successful, fulfilling the objective of effective communication of Kalki’s spirit. I have tried my best to retain the primary originality.

Being a historical novel, it is inevitable that many Tamil names and words had to be retained as in the original book. While many names can prove to be tongue twisters to non-Tamilians, that should be viewed as a part of the translation process from any language, and also the fact that it is based on the prevalent situation in Tamil Nadu during the Chola period of 10th century.

I am confident that the translation will definitely reach the generations of book lovers, particularly the younger ones, who are keen to read Kalki’s works but are unable to do so due to their inability to read the language.

This will be in real sense a translation by a layman, who is not an academic or a research scholar. Indeed, Kalki’s works did reach laymen too, and must reach so for generations to come. And that has been my motive and motivation to have the courage to attempt this huge and extremely soul-fulfilling task.

H. Subhalakshmi Narayanan

2016

Preface to Translation of Kalki's Alai Osai

Alai Osai (Sound of Waves) was written by Kalki Krishnamoorthy in 1948-49, serialized in the magazine named ‘Kalki”. It won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1957 posthumously, as Kalki died in 1956. This is a social novel written in the backdrop of pre-independence movement and struggles, India’s independence, and assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. It throws candid and comprehensive light on the freedom struggles and about the lives of people involved in it. It takes us through village, municipality, town and city levels in Tamilnadu, and also at a national level covering lives and situations at Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and Lahore. The story centres around the main characters

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Preface to Translation of Kalki's Alai Osai

Alai Osai (Sound of Waves) was written by Kalki Krishnamoorthy in 1948-49, serialized in the magazine named ‘Kalki”. It won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1957 posthumously, as Kalki died in 1956.

This is a social novel written in the backdrop of pre-independence movement and struggles, India’s independence, and assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

It throws candid and comprehensive light on the freedom struggles and about the lives of people involved in it. It takes us through village, municipality, town and city levels in Tamilnadu, and also at a national level covering lives and situations at Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and Lahore. The story centres around the main characters of Soundararaghavan (a highly qualied and brilliant government ofcial), Suryanarayanan (a freedom revolutionary), and Pattabhiraman (a lawyer who later enters politics), and the women Dharini (a highly qualied freedom revolutionary whose birth is shrouded in suspense), Seetha (a traditional simple-minded housewife who is rst attracted by the glamourous parties in Delhi and later becomes a disciple of Gandhiji), and Lalitha (a simple girl from village who helps her husband in his struggles).

Lifestyles of village landlords, petty government staff including from the village munsif level, the police, and other functionaries at all levels, senior government ofcials in Delhi, and the Maharajas are portrayed. The novel spans the period from 1934 to assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. It depicts the migration of welleducated South Indians joining highly placed government posts in Delhi. It also depicts the lifestyle of the English at the period in India, including the Viceroy in Delhi.

Traditional marriage norms, women’s education, women’s participation in the freedom movement, all are vividly presented. It comprehensively brings out the need for social reforms that were required at that period. The network of transportation modes across the country, like the railways and seaway, are described very impressively.

This is an outstanding work, which screens the country at all social, cultural, historical, and political levels completely and fully.

Kalki considered this as the best of all his creations, which were more than hundred, and expected this to last beyond a century.

While translating, I have kept to the principle of keeping the simplicity, poignancy, and spirit of every word of the epic. To that extent, while I have attempted a literal translation, I have tried my best to keep the spirit of the work, in every word, sentence, paragraph, chapter and context. Nothing at all, not even a word, has been in any way changed to suit the English language; at the same time, I can condently claim that the presentation in English language has also been equally successful, fullling the objective of effective communication of Kalki’s spirit. I have tried my best to retain the primary originality.

This will be in real sense a translation by a layman, who is not an academic or a research scholar.Indeed, Kalki’s works did reach laymen too, and must reach so for generations to come. And that has been my motive and motivation to have the courage to attempt this huge and extremely soul-fulfilling task.

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ALAI OSAI (SOUND OF WAVES) BY KALKI KRISHNAMOORTHY

ALAI OSAI was written by Kalki Krishnamoorthy in 1948-49, serialized in the magazine named ‘Kalki”. It won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1957 posthumously, as Kalki died in 1956.

This is a social novel written in the backdrop of pre-independence movement and struggles, India’s independence, and assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

It throws candid and comprehensive light on the freedom struggles and about the lives of people involved in it. It takes us through village, municipality, town and city levels in Tamilnadu, and also at a national level covering lives and situations at Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and Lahore. The story centres around the main characters of Soundararaghavan (a highly qualified and brilliant government official), Suryanarayanan (a freedom revolutionary), and Pattabhiraman (a lawyer who later enters politics), and the women Dharini (a highly qualified freedom revolutionary whose birth is shrouded in suspense), Seetha (a traditional simple-minded housewife who is first attracted by the glamourous parties in Delhi and later becomes a disciple of Gandhiji), and Lalitha (a simple girl from village who helps her husband in his struggles).

Lifestyles of village landlords, petty government staff including from the village munsif level, the police, and other functionaries at all levels, senior government officials in Delhi, and the Maharajas are portrayed. The novel spans the period from 1934 to assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. It depicts the migration of well-educated South Indians joining highly placed government posts in Delhi. It also depicts the lifestyle of the English at the period in India, including the Viceroy in Delhi.

Traditional marriage norms, women’s education, women’s participation in the freedom movement, all are vividly presented. It comprehensively brings out the need for social reforms that were required at that period. The network of transportation modes across the country, like the railways and seaway, are described very impressively.

This is an outstanding work, which screens the country at all social, cultural, historical, and political levels completely and fully.

Kalki considered this as the best of all his creations, which were more than hundred, and expected this to last beyond a century.

While translating, I have kept to the principle of keeping the simplicity, poignancy, and spirit of every word of the epic. To that extent, while I have attempted a literal translation, I have tried my best to keep the spirit of the work, in every word, sentence, paragraph, chapter and context. Nothing at all, not even a word, has been in any way changed to suit the English language; at the same time, I can confidently claim that the presentation in English language has also been equally successful, fulfilling the objective of effective communication of Kalki’s spirit. I have tried my best to retain the primary originality.

This will be in real sense a translation by a layman, who is not an academic or a research scholar. Indeed, Kalki’s works did reach laymen too, and must reach so for generations to come. And that has been my motive and motivation to have the courage to attempt this huge and extremely soul-fulfilling task.


Shubha Narayanan