Recording an Era
Shobhana Bhattacharji
A VILLAGE DIVIDED (ADHA GAON) by Rahi Masoom Raza Penguin India, New Delhi, 2004, 332 pp., 395.00
February 2004, volume 28, No 2

A Village Divided is a wonderful book, well worth spending money to buy and time to read. Rurially autobiographical, Rahi Masoom s Adha Gaon (1966) is a record of the life d times of his village in UP where Muslims d Hindus lived together in an accord which y has begun to seem mythical. Quite apart from the narrative flow is the change of pace of the book as a lifestyle of centuries revs into the unbelievably fast gears of Partition, communalism, and modern secular India. Adha Gaon is honest and compassionate. Gillian Wright’s translation of it was first published in 1994 as The Feuding Families of the Village of Gangauli, splendidly reviewed by Shahid Amin in Biblio (April 1995). A Village Divided is a revised translation. Even so, and iconoclastically, given the unwritten law that reprints and their cousins are not reviewed in full, here is a review. In spite of theories and workshops, the one thing translators agree upon is that there can be no incontrovertible rules for translation. There is always the possibility of freshness for the translator as well as for anyone interested in translation. Each text is unique, as is its translation. To see how one language gets transformed into another can be endlessly interesting since the translation is and isn’t the same as the original.

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