Performing Women
Girish Karnad
THEATRE IN COLONIAL INDIA: PLAY-HOUSE OF POWER by Lata Singh Oxford University Press, 2010, 354 pp., 895
February 2010, volume 36, No 2

Is an editor of an anthology of essays anything more than a compiler? Is she (or he) merely expected to read widely on the subject, string to-gether whatever essays are available (and ideally unpublished), slap on an Introduction in which the contents of the essays are summarized, and dispatch it to the publisher? When I was working in the publishing world, an editor was virtually expected to stamp her personality on the anthology, infusing it with—if I may use the word—a vision. She was expected to work with the individual contributors on their papers, pointing out weaknesses and suggesting improvements. The collaboration between the editor and the contributor could range from elementary operations such as verification of references, proof-reading and excision of needless obscurity and repetition to exploring the direction in which an argument could be developed. Further, since in India many academics have a very limited competence in English, the editor could suggest ways in which the language of the essay could be improved, so the entire book had a uniform linguistic competence.

Nothing is more jarring than to move from an elegant composition by someone at home in English to a piece where the writer is struggling with the basic syntax and vocabulary of the language. It is quite normal for European publishers, for instance, to offer their non-English contributors the assistance of a ‘mother-tongue’ reader, whose job is to be on the watch for grammatical errors, slipshod use of vocabulary, wrong linguistic usage and sheer malapropisms.

Continue reading this review