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Tagore misunderstood due to poor translations: Swedish scholar

Press Trust of India  |  Kolkata 

Due to poor translation of his masterpieces, the literary creation of Rabindranath Tagore has been "misinterpreted" by people in Sweden where he was honoured with the Nobel prize in literature, experts say.

"Even his most famous work 'Gitanjali' for which he won the Nobel is practically unreadable in Swedish. It has neither the rhythm nor the brilliance which is reflected in his original Bengali writing," Swedish Tagore scholar Olavi Hemmila told PTI.

In Kolkata to participate in the celebration of 100 years of Tagore winning the prestigious award in literature, he said all the Swedish translations of his works are poor in quality.

"It is very sad that his works have been misinterpreted during translation. I think the translators were romantic characters and they had love for ancient Sweden history. During translation, they forgot the Indian backdrop in his works and saw it with a particular bias," Hemmila said.

Tagore's poetries, dramas, short stories and novels written in Bengali has been translated into many languages across the world.

Ambassador of Sweden in India Harald Sandberg said even the bard himself was worried about the quality of the translations.

"That is because poetry is always extremely difficult to translate. Its a challenge for any one to keep it deeply original," he said.

Even the Nobel Committee in 1913 had observed in the nomination that the actual significance of Tagore's works can be understood in a limited way because of the unavailability of his translated works. The original nomination text was put on public display here for the first time in India by the Embassy of Sweden.

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First Published: Mon, October 28 2013. 14:26 IST