One Book, Two Readings: The Strange Case of "Anandamath"
The Indian Nationalist Movement for freedom from the British, witnessed the harnessing of power of nationalist literature to further its aims. Perhaps the most significant of all the books published in India during those times was “Anandamath” by Bankimchandra Chatterjee, published in Bengali in 1882. Its militant tone called upon Indians to rediscover themselves, harking back to a glorious Hindu past. The novel was thought of as a call to action for Hindu nationalism at that point of time. However, it underwent radical transformation of image at successive points of Indian history. It was initially thought of as anti-British and in fact, ran into trouble with the white rulers. The English translation published by Basant Kumar Roy in 1946 on the eve of Independence was a sanitized version, which had expunged all anti-Muslim references from the novel. A third translation published in 2006 by Julius Lipner, has retained all the original references and in contemporary India is being accused of rabid anti-Islamic sentiments. The paper looks at these two different translations which were thought of as nationalistic and anti-Muslim respectively. It is an attempt to find out how a book can undergo ‘image changes’ and how the reading patterns of a society are transformed by extra-literary influences, at various junctures of its development.
Keywords: Reading patterns, Image change, Socio-historical factors, Translation
Assistant Professor of English, Department of Humanities & Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur