Siddhartha's Reviews > The Story of Manu

The Story of Manu by Allasani Peddana
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M 50x66
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it was ok
bookshelves: owned, telugu

A background first. Unlike classical languages in Europe, Classical Languages in India are very much alive in both conversational and literary sense. The language Telugu, from which this work was translated here, is the native tongue of more than 100 million people, including yours truly.

I learn't the language as my first language in school and a few Padya's (the numbered verse like thing in the book, for there is no native English equivalent for a Telugu Padya. Verse does not even come close.) in school and remember them by heart even now. The lyrical beauty of them is untranslatable sometimes so i would not mention it.

I am unhappy with how so many phrases were left out of translation. But even that is not my biggest disappointment with this book, it is the number of mistranslated phrases, which, considering one of the translators being a native speaker of Telugu is inexcusable.

A good translation does not merely use a bilingual dictionary and put together the meaning in the native language. We do not need human translators to do that today. A good translation puts the reader in the shoes of the original reader and imparts him the social, cultural and historical background to relate to what they are reading. This translation sadly fails to do that. It simply makes things easy for its target readers, and in the effort, makes it clear that it is intended for non-Indian native English readers.

A few jarring examples, i recall immediately are:
God Brahma is translated as 'the Supreme Lord' or 'the God creator', which at best is an approximation and simply does not convey what the author had in mind. In another phrase, 'Konda Chiluva' is translated as 'Boa Constrictor'. For the uninitiated, There were never any Boa's in India, so please read it as Python.

A verse 'Ghora Vana Pradesa' is translated as 'God Forsaken Place'. Sorry, this is junk. There is no such concept as 'God Forsaken' in Indian culture. The phrase literally translates to 'A dark and deep forest'.

This translation might serve as a good introduction if you are new to Telugu, but if you have some background, it will be a letdown somewhat.

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Reading Progress

January 28, 2015 – Shelved
January 28, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
January 28, 2015 – Shelved as: owned
January 28, 2015 – Shelved as: telugu
February 2, 2015 – Started Reading
June 24, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Corinne (new)

Corinne Thank you for this review !


Siddhartha Corinne wrote: "Thank you for this review !"

Welcome Corinne, glad you liked it!


Vipin Sharma I think you should make clear in the headline that your rating is for the translation not the original work. Despite the fact that this translation has been clearly done keeping in view the reader with no background in Telugu or Hindu literary and religious traditions, this is one of the best piece of literature, I have ever read.


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