Tolkien translations: Tolkien in Bengali (05.01.13 by Suravi Chatterjee-Woolman) - Comments

Tolkien in Bengali

With about 193 million native and about 230 million total speakers, Bengali, an eastern Indo-Aryan language, is one of the most spoken languages (ranked sixth) in the world. The National song and the national anthem of India, and the national anthem of Bangladesh were composed in Bengali. Today, literary form and dialects of Bengali constitute the primary language spoken in Bangladesh and the second most commonly spoken language in India.

We all know in India there was released a Marathi translation of The Hobbit in 2011. Back then we knew that a translator, called Aniruddha, had been making a Bengali translation of The Hobbit, but has so far had not found a publication house to get his book released. Now just some days ago, thanks to twitter friend @Vilya_SCW, I not only learned that The Hobbit was finally published in Bengali, adding yet another translation to the list. The Fellowship of the Ring followed in 2012, and received an illustrated edition. I'm even more happy that I am able to post the following article by Suravi Chatterjee-Woolman, telling us al about Bengalis and the translation of Tolkien's works into Bengali.


The Hobbit translated into Bengali


Concerning Bengalis

Bengalis have been living in the four farthings of Bengal for many thousands of years. They are smallish people; bookish, and rather risk averse. In fact it has often been remarked that the Bengali’s only real passion is food. A rather unfair observation as we have also developed a keen interest in living a simple yet intellectually stimulating life.

But where our hearts truly lie is in peace & quiet, and being lost in a well woven yarn! So you see it is only natural for us to adore the incredible works of J.R.R Tolkien. Afterall it is still 1419 in Bengal; according to the Shakabda, the Bengali calendar year that is. Curiously similar to the Great Years in the Shire-reckoning.

Yet while others may find our ways quaint, it has been brought home to me as I write this now, that it is no bad thing for the author Aniruddha to be the first to translate any of Tolkien’s work into a major Indian language.

The Hobbit (published in 2011 or 1418 shakabda) as well as The Fellowship of the Ring  (published in 2012 or 1419 shakabdo) have been translated into the beautiful script of Bangla, or Bengali- the sixth most spoken language in the world.

Both books are a product of years of painstaking translations: not only of the mesmerizing words but also of the imagery they create.

the Bengali The Fellowship of the Ring


The Bengali The Hobbit and the Bengali The Fellowship of the Ring come complete with 35 and 49 illustrations respectively. See if the Chiefest and Greatest of Calamities Smaug you imagined is similar to the Bengali imagination here!

I must pause to declare a natural bias- the illustrator, Santi Chatterjee is my father. So I hope you will forgive a daughter counting all the illustrations from the copy of the two books she now owns.

Also few words about the weblinks. They seem to work best via Google Chrome or Firefox. And in case mysterious little boxes appear, fear not as they are Bengali text that are easily revealed if you download the unicode Bangla font from here, among other places.

Before I go: do remember to watch the publisher Cinnamon Teal’s website for the final two illustrated installments of The Lord of the Rings to be published before our 1419 shakadba ends on April 14th, 2013. And if you fancy, maybe treat yourself to a copy of the beautifully illustrated translations of J.R.R Tolkien’s masterful work?


Santi Chatterjee illustration for the Bengali The Hobbit



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