VR Manuscript

Translation Principles

Our aim is to produce a scholarly and literary translation of Kampaṉ's Rāmāyaṇa that captures the text's linguistic range and the poet's vivid imagination. Our free verse translation will strive for lucidity and accuracy, but without sacrificing poetic beauty. Kampaṉ's poetry is marked by an extraordinary attention to sound and sonic effects, discussed briefly but in an illuminating fashion by Kamil Zvelebil in his chapter "The Imperial Poet" in his book, The Smile of Murugan (1973). We are experimenting with ways of communicating this affective quality into English. 

We do not understand or approach translation as a form of explanation. So we will not try to resolve all textual ambiguities or erase expressions of cultural specificity within the translation itself. Explanatory notes will provide information about myths, specific proper names or unusual rhetorical features, while text-critical annotations will mark variant readings and interpretations. 

As MCLI publishes dual-language editions, the Tamil text, based on the UVS edition, will be available to the reader, alongside our English translation.

The team has developed a set of translation principles to guide our work. This is in addition to the exhaustive style guide prepared by MCLI, which we will also follow. The MCLI Guide for Translators can be found here.