Translators

Tagore’s work had from the very first moment a great impact on fellow poets and literature in general. Amongst the earliest translators are some who became themselves very famous as Nobel laureates, like Gide and Jiménez. Glimmering through the early reception of Tagore’s work, via his translators, is an opportunity to gain some insight in the world of cultural elites during the 1920s and 30s.

None of the early translators was able to translate directly from the Bangla original, with only a few exceptions like Helene Meyer-Franck. Also, some fame must already have existed, as for instance the composer Ciurlionis, who died in 1911, is said to have been influenced by Tagore. Song-Offerings was published in 1913.

Not a translator, but nevertheless very important, is William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), who advised Tagore in the publishing of his first bundle, Gitanjali, or Song-Offerings. Yeats wrote the introduction to the first edition. In 1923 he was himself rewarded the Nobel prize.

Translators “first generation”

Name  LanguageTranslations
 Chukalov, Sava18..-19..
Bulgary
Bulgarian1927: Gitanjali (from Russian)
 Maximov, D.18..-19..
Bulgary
Bulgarian1918: Gardener (from Italian)
 Vecherov, Methody18..-19..
Bulgary
Bulgarian1920: Gitanjali
 Balej, Francis18..-19..
Czechia
CzechianGardener?
 von Kohn, Louis18..-19..
Danish1914
 Borel, Henry1869-1933
Netherlands
Dutch1914: King of the Dark Chamber
1916: Post Office
van Eeden, Frederik1860-1932
Netherlands
Dutch1913: Gitanjali (Wijzangen), transl. from English
also Gardener,Kabir,Crescent Moon,Sadhana,Chitra,Hungry Stones, Home & the World,Fugitive
 Noto Suroto, Raden Mas1888-1951
Indonesia
Dutch, Indonesian1922: The Parrot’s Training
 du Pasquier, Hélène18..-19..
French1920: Fruit-Gathering (La Corbeille de fruits)
Gide, André1869-1951
France
French1913: Gitanjali (L’Offrande lyrique)
Nobel prize 1947
 Kalinensky, H.18..-19..
French1920: Gardener (Le Jardinier d’ Amour)
 Mirabaud-Thorens, Henriëtte18..-19..
French1925: Mashi
1926: Le Cycle du Printemps
1929: Le naufrage
1921: En Marge de la Guerre, her memoires of WW I
 Roger-Cornaz, 18..-19..
French1921: Home and the World (La maison et le monde)
Rolland, Madeleine1872-1960
French1924: A quatre voix
she is the sister of writer and philosopher Romain Rolland (1866-1944) Nobel prize 1915
 Sainte-Marie Perrin, Elisabeth1879-1926
FrenchLa Fugitive
sister-in-law diplomate-poet Paul Claudel, friend of Milhaud
 Sturge-Moore, Marie18..-19..
French1924: The Crescent Moon (La jeune lune), translated in 1913, but Gide long witheld publishing
wife of Tagore’s friend Thomas Sturge-Moore
 Effenberger, Hans German 
 Meyer-Franck, Helene18..-19..
German
wife of Heinrich Meyer-Benfrey (1869-1945)
 von Puttkamer, Annemarie1872?-1942?
GermanFruchtlese
 Arnason, Magnus18..-19..
Island
Icelandic1919: Gitanjali
 Del Re, Arundel18..-19..
Ireland
Italian1914: Gitanjali (Offerta di canti)
 Mijic, P.18..-19..
Italian 
 Sesti-Strampfer, M.18..-19..
Italy
Italian1915: Gardener (Il Giardiniere)
1917: Post Office (L’Ufficio postale)
 Taglialatela, Eduardo18..-19..
Italy
Italian1918: Uccelli migranti
 Verdinois, F.18..-19..
Italy
Italian1916: Il Re della camera oscura
1917: Chitra
 Zannoni-Chauvet, Clary18..-19..
Italy
Italian191.:The Crescent Moon (Luna crescente)
1925: Oleandri rossi
 Dickstein, Julia18..-19..
Poland
Polish1921: Gardener
 Iwaszkiewicz, Jaroslav18..-19..
Poland
Polishca1918
 Jankowski, Jozef18..-19..
Poland
Polish1921: Gitanjali
 Kasprowicz, Jan1860-1926
Poland
Polish1914/18: Gitanjali, Crescent Moon, Gardener (in one, transl. from English)
 Zander, Kazimierz18..-19..
Poland
Polish1929: Gardener (“Songs of Love – Pieśni milości) a paraphrased version
 Barbosa, Placido18..-19..
Brazil
Portuguese1914/16: The Crescent Moon, partly Gard. & Gitanjali
Bunin, Ivan Alekseyevich1870-1953
Russia
RussianNobel prize 1933
Pasternak, Boris Leonidovich1890-1960
Russia
Russian1950s
Nobel prize 1948
 Rozhdestvenskaya, 18..-19..
Russia
Russian 
Camprubí de Jiménez, Zenobia1885?-1956
Spain
Spanishin co-operation with her husband;
publ. 1917: Gard.,Post Office, Stray Birds,Fruit-Gath. 1918: Sannayasi, King & Queen, Malini, Git.,Hungry Stones,Cycle of Spring; 1919: King of Dark Chamber,Sacrifice,Santiniketan,Lover’s Gift, Chitra
Jiménez, Juan Ramón1881-1958
Spain
Spanishin co-operation with his wife;
1917: Gard.,Post Office, Stray Birds,Fruit-Gath. 1918: Sannayasi, King & Queen, Malini, Git.,Hungry Stones,Cycle of Spring; 1919: King of Dark Chamber,Sacrifice,Santiniketan,Lover’s Gift, Chitra
Nobel prize 1956
 Anderberg, Kristian18..-19..
Sweden
Swedish1914: Gardener (Örtagårdsmästaren)
 Butenschön, Andrea18..-19..
Sweden
Swedish1915: Gitanjali (from the Bengali)
 Hultenberg, Hugo18..-19..
Sweden
Swedish1917: Straybirds (Farande fåglar)
1921: Fruit-gatherings (Fruktplockning)

“Modern” Translators

Many of the first translators were themselves part of the intellectual circles around Tagore, and knew him personally. Many also corresponded vividly with Tagore, and thus were able to discuss their translations with him personally. As an example, catching such an atmosphere, at right Tagore
is sitting in between his friend Romain Rolland and Romain’s sister Madeleine Rolland, their father at the most left (1926, picture from Collection Monique Dupont-Sagorin). This advantage did or does not befall later translators.

Amongst the earliest translators were almost none who could understand the value of the original Bengali texts. Though some did find in the power of Tagore’s English translations the motivation to start learning Bengali, like Helene Meyer-Franck. She originally translated from the English also was able to translate from the Bengali originals.

Of the later "modern" translators many are able to enjoy Tagore’s literary output from its Bengali original writings. No doubt this is also an important advantage. Though the original English translations made by Tagore himself still are of great value. Till this day, these early translations form the bulk of texts set to music.

Name  LanguageTranslations
 Gothein,    
 Haas, A   
 Mancuso,    
Moore, Jim194.?-
  
 de Quadras, María 
Spain
Catalane 
 Molenaar, Johan 
Netherlands
Dutch1941: Stray Birds
van Bijlert, Victor1955-
Netherlands
Dutch1996: Gitanjali (Toen jij de snaren spande)
 Bose, Aurobindo English 
 Dyson,  English 
Radice, William1951-
UK
English1992: Snatched by the Gods, a libretto based on Tagore, for an opera by Param Vir
1995: The Post Office
2000: Particles, Jottings, Sparks: The Collected Brief Poems
 Talarovic, James English 
 Winter, Joe English 
 Daniélou, Alain 
France
FrenchTranslating songs
 Epstein, Michael19..-
Germany
GermanFata Morgana
 Kämpchen, Martin German 
 Muncker, G.M. German 
 Constantinides, Yannis1903-1984
Greece
Greek 
 Mancuso, Girolamo Italian 
 Ruffili, Paolo Italian 
 Yamamuro, Shizuka19..-
Japan
JapaneseGitanjali
 Yamamuro, Shizuka Japanish 
 Egle, Kârlis18..-19..
Latvia
Latvian 
Nistelis, Vytautas1922-1986
Lithuania
Lithuanian1973: Lyrika
 Tyruolis, Alfonsas19..-
Lithuania
Lithuanian 
 de Almeida, Guilherme19..-19..
Brazil
Portuguese1945: Gitanjali
Quadros, António1923-1993
Portugal
Portuguese 
 Renault, Abgar19..-19..
Brazil
Portuguese1945: Fruit-Gathering
1946 Stray Birds
 Akmatova, Anna1889-1966
Russia
Russianca1946

Misc. Language


Audio books, “Sprechplatten”


Otto Mellies (1931) is a German actor. He has published several audio books on Tagore, like Am Ufer der Stille (Patmos, 2002), which uses a collection with the same title in Martin Kämchen’s translation.


Learning Bengali
www.ukindia.com

4 thoughts on “Translators

  1. Jayprakash Sawant

    I wish to know the name of the first German translator of Gitanjali in Kurt Wolff edition of 1913. Can you please help?

    Reply
  2. santhe narayanaswamy

    I am surprised to see Andrea butenschon,the translator of biography of Moghul princess from persian to English,also translated the The Geethanjali of Tagore from Bengali to Swedish.
    Is she a German lady or Swedish lady,I want to know out of curiosity.
    I need her life sketch if can get from any body,I am charmed by her trasnlated memoires of Jahanara.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Dear Santhe, curiousity is also for me a great source of inspiration. And as more and more information is being published online, also information about Andrea Butenschön (1866-1948) is now available. Like in Wikipedia in German, also available in Swedish of course.

      I have just read the article about this very inspiring woman. And this it says, in short: her father was German, her mother Swedish, she was being raised in Sweden. To become the first female student at the Sorbonne in Paris to study Sanskrit. In 1891 she travelled through India.

      Before the Nobel prize was awarded, Gitanjali (SÃ¥ngoffer) was translated in 1913 from the English version, though not from the Bengali.

      Reply

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