I received the book Stories from Saratchandra by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay as a review copy from the publisher and am thankful for the same. This book is a collection of translations of twelve stories written by the author.
This book is a collection of twelve widely acclaimed short stories of Saratchandra Chattopadhyay, one of the doyens of Bengali literature. The stories bring to life themes covering perceptions of childhood, a refusal to be rule-bound, transition from the innocence of a child’s world view into hard reality, and the world as it appears to a child.
Divided into two sections, the first group of stories portray childhood in all its unburdened innocence while the latter section leads on to deeper sensibilities—the everyday experience of casteism, the lived reality of social hierarchy, and the bonds of almost filial affection forged between man and animal that sustain both.
The translations reveal Saratchandra’s keen eye as a social commentator, presenting a vivid picture of life in rural Bengal during the early twentieth century. From stories such as ‘Laalu’ to ‘Mohesh’ to reminiscences of Saratchandra’s own boyhood, Stories from Saratchandra offers a glimpse into the oeuvre of Sarat Chandra’s work.
The book starts with a 32 page introduction and has further been divided into two parts with six short stories in each part. The translator has tried to maintain the authenticity of the stories while writing them.
The first set of stories is around the author’s perceptions of childhood. Childhood memories talks about the author’s initial childhood in the village with his grandparents and then later in Calcutta with his uncle. The second set of stories is turns around the underprivileged communities and social groups. One story talks about the author visiting Deoghar to recuperate while the other talks about a ten to twelve year old boy who is forced to work as a servant. Another story deals with the critical assessment of the village community and one talks about the beloved old bull of a poor peasant. There is a story about a woman who lives upto the meaning of her name.
The author has maintained certain words in Bengali and also the way the people address each other. The translations of the Bengali words used is mentioned as a footnote.
The language is simple and easy to follow. The book can be easily read and understood by both Bengalis and Non-Bengalis alike.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Saratchandra Chattopadhyay (1876–1938) was one of the most prolific novelists and short story writers from Bengal in the early twentieth century. Among his novels, his most notable works include Baikunther Will, Devdas and Srikanta; stories such as ‘Mejdidi’ and ‘Mohesh’ rank among the most loved. Saratchandra’s powerful portrayals of human, economic and social distress, colonialism, middle-class lives and the rural world are still widely read, translated and have been adapted into films.
ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR
Anindita Mukhopadhyay has a doctorate from School of Oriental and African Studies, London and currently teaches history at the University of Hyderabad and was formerly fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. She has earlier translated Rabindranath Tagore’s Shesher Kobita, The Last Poem (Rupa, 2007) and authored Behind the Mask: The Cultural Definition of the Legal Subject (Oxford University Press, 2013).
DISCLAIMER: I received the book as a review copy from the publisher, Rupa Publications, in exchange for an honest review. I have not received any monetary compensation for the same.