Translation of great works of literature is always beset with challenges, the most formidable of which is meaningful carriage of the original. And if those originals contain the timeless works of great and internationally renowned people, the onus will be even more ‘risky.’ Translated versions therefore occupy an equal status of recognition and applaud.
Dr Sahba Jamal Shazli, an academic with an impressive record of achievements deserves credit for her latest book titled, ‘Aks e Adab,’ (‘Reflections of Literature’) released at an event held at the Kelston Community Centre in West Auckland on July 3, 2021. As well as her family (husband Dr Mirza Taimoori, children and grandchildren), a cross-section of the communities present felt gratified. As Chief Guest (former Labour Party Member of Parliament) Dr Rajen Prasad said, “It is not surprising that Dr Shazli’s work brings together elements of faith and storytelling. It is in our literature that we find the greatest inspiration for how to traverse the challenges of life, whatever they may be, and those things that we hold dear.”
About Aks e Adab
Dr Prasad said that translation is an art of keeping the beauty of original text while giving it a new life in another language.
In the words of Professor George Steiner, an American literary critic, philosopher, educator and novelist, “Without translation, we would be living in provinces bordering on silence.”
Aks e Adab contains 33 stories. Among them are six stories of Katherine Mansfield, four stories of Flannery O’Connor, two of Khushwant Singh, and the stories of Ali Smith, Alia Trabucco Zaren, Alice Walker, Anita Desai, Ann Beattie, Ann Likhtikman, Clare Boylan, Ernest Hemingway, George Craig, Guy de Maupassant, Hanif Kureishi, Hilary Mantel, Jhumpa Lahiri, Katherine Anne Porter, Katherine Susannah Prichard, Nicole Krauss, Olga Tokarczyk, Renee Thompson, Tea Obreht, Tony Morrison and Zadie Smith.
Dr Sahba Jamil Shazli with her book at the launch (Photo by Jasmin Sheikh)
Moral Ambiguity of O’Connor
Dr Prasad as well as this Reporter were amused to note that the doctoral dissertation of Dr Shazli (at Kakatiya University in Warangal, Telangana, India), was ‘The Moral Ambiguity’ in the fiction of Flannery O’Connor. My interest was intense because one of her short stories, ‘A Good Man Is Hard To Find’ was a part of my English literature study in my graduate degree programme almost 60 years ago.
Flannery O’Connor, a writer of short stories, was brought up on the family’s Georgia farm, Andalusia, in the United States. She was a strong Catholic woman who suffered from the painful disease lupus. In 2014, she was inducted into the American Poets Corner at St John the Divine, a Church in Manhattan, which, some say, is the “only shrine to American literature in that country.” Steeped in her faith, she struggled with the “unbelief” and advised others to cultivate the Christian scepticism about unbelief.
As Dr Prasad said, “Clearly Flannery O’Connor was interested in weighty moral questions, and not much concerned with “anything outside the business of soul-making.”
The themes of Katherine Mansfield
“Dr Shazli’s audience for Aks-e-Adab is no doubt international. Urdu readers anywhere will gain immense pleasure from the stories that are translated in this book. The original writers are international in origin and many are household names in the literary world. From a purely selfish and entirely parochial perspective I was interested in the inclusion of one of New Zealand’s most respected authors Katherine Mansfield.”
In a 2021 analysis of Katherine Mansfield’s stories, research scholar Nasrullah Mambrol said that in 1918, Mansfield “set herself the tasks of communicating the exhilarating delicacy and peacefulness of the world’s beauty and also of crying out against “corruption.”
Other themes include: the yearnings, complexities, and misunderstandings of love; loneliness, particularly of independent women; the superficiality of much of modern life. To these themes, we could add the struggles of what in those days would have been called the “lower classes.” Other authors whose stories have been translated in the book also give readers windows into their worlds of the time.
“In contemporary New Zealand society, where all of us as migrants seek to shape our futures and those of our children and loved ones, we draw on our own histories, spirituality, our ambiguities, our families and our communities, while contributing to the greater good of New Zealand. While our own stories motivate us, reflecting on those of others can provide assurance that their stories can be helpful in shaping our responses as well.
“Dr Shazli makes an important contribution to the well we draw from to make sense of our world and to our resolutions to make Aotearoa New Zealand a place we call home. The medium comprises the short stories of many well-known New Zealand writers as well as others from the international community. The choice of the contributions is significant,” Dr Prasad said.
A section of the audience at the launch (Photo by Jasmin Sheikh)
A graduate in English and Urdu literature, and a postgraduate in English Literature from the Baba Saheb Ambedkar Marathwada University based in Aurangabad, and from Hyderabad, Dr Sabha Shazli obtained her doctorate (PhD) on ‘Moral Ambiguity in the Fiction of Flannery O’Connor’ from Kakatiya University, Warangal.
She migrated to New Zealand with her husband Dr Taimoori and their three children in 1997.
In 2018, she started translating short stories of renowned authors from English to Urdu. In addition to Aks-e-Adab, Dr Shazli has translated a few stories of Dr Witi Ihimaera, a prominent Maori writer and author.
“We all come to this place, New Zealand, with the gifts of our ancestors, our teachers, our thinkers, our artists and our leaders. We have made sense of those contributions and they give form to who we are. We then come into contact with another group of people who are the beneficiaries of similar gifts from their ancestors, teachers, thinkers, artists and leaders. We all seek to emerge from these contacts more enriched, stronger, assertive, responsible and capable of adding value to our new environment, amenable to change and modification but keeping what is best in what we bring and adopting the best of what we find.
Credit: Source link