Translating Camus' play was a challenge, says Kamalesh Banerjee

NITN | @notintownlive | 11 Jan 2018

Translating Camus' play was a challenge, says Kamalesh Banerjee

Power Publishers released "Roman Samrat Caligula" by author Kamalesh Banerjee.  In this interview, Banerjee speaks about this book and his literary journey.

Congratulations Mr Banerjee on the release of ''Roman Samrat Caligula". Is this your debut as a writer?

Certainly not. I started writing in English in 1956 when I was 26, in the Radical Humanist. I continued to write articles in English and Bengali. From years ago, I fell victim to old age ailments. Despite my wasting disease, this Camus’ play was adapted by me in Bengali.

The book is a Bengali translation of the famous play by Albert Camus. What inspired you to translate it?

I read a good many European plays. They are surely good and enjoyable. But only a few of them could swing me into such intellectual and emotional upsurge as this play did and prompted me to translate it in Bengali.

What kind of readership are you expecting?

After two world wars and industrialisation galore life has become very much complex. People no longer look into the cravings of their soul. They live in a Having mode of a life ignoring the Being mode, as Erich Fromm said. These cravings for Having mode has percolated in the psyche of Indians. They want light book, light play and light pleasure. But for my books I want readers who are serious and intellect-oriented.

As a translator, which part of the play has been the most exciting or challenging to translate?

As a translator, Camus’ play in its entirety was challenging to me.

Which other such literary gems do you think, should be translated into Indian languages?

I think Dostoevsky’s three books, The Idiot, The Brothers Karamazov, The Possessed, Tolstoy’s Resurrection, Goethe's Faust, Andre Gide’s Strait is the Gate, Camus’ The Outsider, Aldous Huxley’s Point Counter Point and Island should be translated.