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The Enemy Within

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About the Book   This translation from the Bangla Antarghat is the story of a group of young friends who had committed themselves idealistically and politically to the Naxalite movement that rocked Bengal in the 1960s. Many years later, they still carry the scar beneath their live of surface calm. But they also hare the secret of a betrayal, one that was fatally injurious to some. Into this fragile, obscure universe arrives their betrayer, ironically see...

About the Book

 

This translation from the Bangla Antarghat is the story of a group of young friends who had committed themselves idealistically and politically to the Naxalite movement that rocked Bengal in the 1960s. Many years later, they still carry the scar beneath their live of surface calm. But they also hare the secret of a betrayal, one that was fatally injurious to some. Into this fragile, obscure universe arrives their betrayer, ironically seeking anonymity. Jagged wounds reopen and death follows. Is it suicide or murder, expiation or vengeance?

 

Moving seamlessly from the past to the present, Basu’s narrative is compelling and breathless, as the novel’s edgy, nervous rhythms reconstruct and call up the turbulent history of a difficult period.

 

About the Author

 

Bani Basu (b. 1940) studied first at Lady Brabourne College and later at Scottish Church College, Calcutta to graduate with English Honours. She completed her M.A. in English Literature from Calcutta University and taught at Howrah Bijoykrishna Girls College from where she has recently retired. Her first novel was Janmabhoomi Matribhoomi. A prolific writer, her novels have been regularly published by Desh, the premier literary journal of Bengal. Her major works include Swet Patharer Thaala, Ekushe Paa, Maitreya Jataka, Gandbarui, Pancham Purush and Ashtham Garbha. She was awarded the Tarashankar Award for Antarghaat, (1991) and the Ananda Puraskar for Maitreya Jataka (1996). She is also the recipient of the Sushila Devi Birla Memorial Award and the Sahitya Setu Puraskar. She translates extensively into Bangla and writes essays, short stories and poetry. She lives in Calcutta.

 

Jayanti Datta graduated from Presidency College, Calcutta and is Senior Lecturer in English at Sivanath Shastri College, Calcutta. Her novel, Yearning, in English was published by Writers Workshop in 1998. This is her first translation. She is married with two children and lives in Calcutta.

 

Translator’s Note

 

A summary account of the Naxalite movement has been provided by the author in her Afterword. It began in Naxalbari (pronounced Nock-shaal-baari in Bangla); its adherents came to be known as Naxals (pronounced Nock-shaals). The movement has left an indelible imprint on the Bengali psyche. Apart from highlighting the urgent necessity for land reform in rural areas, it was an expression, certainly in Calcutta, of the inherent idealism and romanticism of the Bengali mind-and its haunting futility still raises questions which have not yet been answered.

 

It was this aching sense of waste which first attracted me to Bani Basu’s unusual novel and prompted me to translate it. As she herself says, the novel has not been written with any ideological brief to propagate-it is more interested in the subtle naunces of human psychology. The narrative framework is gripping and sometimes reads almost like a thriller, masterfully interweaving the past and the present, flowing seamlessly from events in the 1970’s, when Calcutta was at the height of Naxalite turmoil, to a period more than a decade later, when everything seems unruffled on the surface. The present is gradually peeled back to reveal the past. The language sometimes reaches the heights of poetry.

 

A few words on the actual process of translation. The continuing problem of translation is the risk of opaqueness on - the one hand or submission to the needs of ‘re-programming’ a text taking the receiver’s previous knowledge, his culturally conditioned expectations into consideration. The so-called ‘retrospective translating’ deliberately expects the target language’s reader to acquire an insight into the sender’s language and culture, to ‘come’, as it were, to the source text. I have tried to maintain a balance, but it is the second approach that I have given more weightage to. For instance ‘kaash flowers’, ‘untimely rituals’, might not be entirely comprehensible to a non-Bengali reader. But I would prefer the reader to catch, however elusively, the prevailing mood from the unfolding context, rather than - overload the text with explanation. Even the reader who is not familiar with Bengali social practice will be able to discern, without much trouble, the habit of addressing someone older as ‘Antu-da’ or ‘Munni-di’. The person so addressed may not be a relative, but the suffix da or di, brings him or her emotionally closer as an elder brother or sister.

 

By the same logic I have not thought it necessary to make it clear that among Bengalis the same person can be addressed by two names, one, which is his ‘bhalo naam’ or the name by which he is formally known, and the other, which is his ‘daak naam’, or pet-name, by which he is generally called. Also, I have retained the names of flowers, trees, birds as in the original, without attempting to translate them into English, and without putting them into italics. That would take away the magic of sound-patterns, and italics would unnecessarily distance these natural objects. These words, these images, belong to the ‘inner form’, which make the translated novel both English and un-English.

 

Contents

 

Translators Note

ix

The Red Maruti

1

Call from the Dark

10

In Darkness and in Light

24

The First Step

36

On a Bed of Nightmares

50

Dealer in Death

60

A Shriek of History

72

The Storm Breaks

81

The Shadow Alongside

91

Inside the Sleeve

101

The Azaan at Dawn

107

Sunlight Failing

114

The Ready Bayonet

123

The Dark Staircase

131

Separated by the Fog

140

The Spear at Rest

153

Afterword

167

 

Sample Pages









Item Code: NAI374 Author: Bani Basu and Jayanti Datta Cover: Paperback Edition: 2002 Publisher: Orient Blackswan Pvt. Ltd. ISBN: 9788125016687 Language: English Size: 8.5 inch X 5 inch Pages: 80 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 205 gms
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