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Sir William Jones Revisited: On His Translation of the Śakuntalā

William Jones, Garland Cannon and Siddheshwar Pandey
Journal of the American Oriental Society
Vol. 96, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 1976), pp. 528-535
DOI: 10.2307/600085
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/600085
Page Count: 8
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Sir William Jones Revisited: On His Translation of the Śakuntalā
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Abstract

Jones's pioneering version had to resolve numerous problems. He had to see down through the sandhi, as it were, to discover the constituent elements of complex conglomerates. In attempting to communicate the local color of flora, and divinities' names, he had to make original Roman transliterations, some of which later joined the English language, and to insert brief descriptive explanations into the text without disturbing the artistry. His version permitted later translators to stand on his shoulders while utilizing the now easily available linguistic aids and resources. Yet these modern translators did not always achieve Kālidāsa's extremely sensuous, colorful, and concrete imagery growing directly out of the Hindu tradition, sometimes because an item or concept is simply untranslatable. At times they unsatisfactorily attempted conveyance of the explicitly erotic passages that Jones tried to conceal, partly so as not to diminish the Oriental treasure that he was seeking to communicate to the West.

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