34(1) - 2022

Œuvres d’hier, traductions d’aujourd’hui : Andal à travers le prisme contemporain

Vasumathi Badrinathan

Andal then and now: Contemporary translations of sacred poetry

The only woman amongst the twelve Alvars of Tamil Nadu (saint-poet-philosophers who lived between the 6th and the 10th century CE), Andal wrote devotional poetry which is enshrined in the highest order of sacred texts of Hinduism. This article studies translations by three women (including the author of the present study) of the two works by Andal written in Tamil, the Tiruppavai and the Nachiyar Tirumoli. Two of these translations are in English, and one is in French. Translating Andal is challenging in more ways than one, and the translator therefore faces a double responsibility: communicating the cultural and spiritual content of the poetry while, at the same time, adequately representing Andal’s poetic style. I contend that the “interlocutory space” (Parker & Sedwig, 1995) between the translators and the original text is far from watertight, which allows scope for subjective readings. Thus, it is possible to look beyond normative understandings of gender and sexuality and discover renewed perspectives from the standpoint of both the poetess and her translators.

Andal, translation, women, Tiruppavai, Nachiyar Tirumoli

DOI 10.17462/para.2022.01.02

April 25, 2022
  34(1) - 2022