From Aag Ka Darya to River of Fire: Forging Identity Through Self-Translation
Mirza, Umbereen Beg
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CitationMirza, Umbereen Beg. 2020. From Aag Ka Darya to River of Fire: Forging Identity Through Self-Translation. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractQurratulain Hyder’s magnus opus Aag ka Darya, has frequently been compared to the oeuvre of Gabriel Garcia Marquez for its innovative narrative structure and its emplotment of serially incarnating characters across time; however it is perhaps her act of self-translation that is the most original feature of her work. River of Fire, her translation, or transcreation as she calls it, transcends a textual transfer of words; the two texts create a metatext which demand to be read as a quest for wholeness. Hyder’s novel, first written in the direct aftermath of Partition in Urdu, chronicles the various ages of a composite, syncretic India; the communalism that led to fracturing of the country provokes a similar dislocation in Hyder—not only does she suffer the loss of home, but also of language. Andre Lefevere, Susan Bassnett and Lawrence Venuti have highlighted the codependency of culture and language, but the works of other bilingual writers such as Samuel Beckett and Vladimir Nabokov have prompted scholars to consider a deeper connection of language with the self. A close reading of both texts, the Urdu and the English, points to a pattern of variances; these dissimilarities, far from being mistranslations when seen within conventional translation studies, actually create a ‘third space,’ allowing for a resolution of identity. As in the case of other bilinguals, Urdu and English represent not two linguistic and semiotic codes, but, instead, offer Hyder an enhanced medium better suited to tell the story of an absorptive India ‘stereoscopically,’ in some ways preempting Salman Rushdie’s creation of a ‘new English’—the language of the translated self.
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