These translations are some of those that I have made through many years of my life, partly as a pleasurable old-fashioned exercise in matching the expressions and ways of thought in a number of languages with their equivalents in English. By far the earliest of the translations was "The Flower of Bakawali", done when I was a young man entranced by the discovery of lithographic printings of these stories in elegant nasta 'liq script on cheap brown paper, with highly coloured wrappers of giants or demons dragging innocent maidens by the hair and similar subjects. They were laid out on the ground beside the seller, below the soaring steps of the Great Mosque of Delhi, beneath its red sandstone and marble scalloped arches and three great onion domes.
The other tales were mostly translated in spare moments during the last fifteen years. Two items in the collection, the Nepali "Madhumalati and Madhukar" and the selection from "The Headman and the Barber", were the result of an attempt to improve the reading skills in Devanagari of a small boy earning a precarious living on the streets of Kathmandu. Now grown to manhood, Manoj Kumar will recognize himself when he reads this in English, and I dedicate the anthology to him. I also must acknowledge my debt to my old friend Leonard Harrow, who has made possible the publication of this book by his speedy and sympathetic discussions with me on every aspect of its production.
Three of the items translated have claims to authorship that vary with the publishers and places of printing, but are substantially the same text. The translator claims no moral rights over the tales that he has translated, and he will be glad if they are retold and give pleasure.
"So may anyone who tells or listens to this story or keeps a book of it in his house find happiness and riches in this world and dwell in heaven in the next"
was born in Jabalpur in 1932. The son of a judge and an artist renowned for her Indian landscapes. His own wide-ranging interests in the culture of the Indian subcontinent embrace religious, literary, social, and military history.
He divides his time between South Asia and Jersey. Channel Islands.
"One should read these Wonder-Tales of South Asia as an entertainment for the pleasure of the narrative and of the anecdotes, and the strangeness of the landscapes, beliefs and customs. If one searches for an excuse for one's pleasure, one may also say that they are rich in implicit teachings on Indian ways of thought, and this will be true.
"Simon Digby's Wonder-Tales of South Asia is a book written with love, affection, and scholarly rigour. He has a special interest in subaltern life and deviant or nonconformist figures. The translations have an even quality of free-flowing lucidity that gives them the illusion of original compositions."
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