The publisher Nilesh Pashte answers
TL: Can you tell a bit more about yourself and the publication house you run?
NP: We are primarily an academic publisher. We specialise in books on Social Sciences and Humanities in Marathi and English. But we also have a select list of titles in Marathi/English literature including novels, poetry, plays and literary criticism.
We have a special interest in literary translations from English and other Indian or world languages into Marathi. We have published (and are in process of publishing) titles such as Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, The Road by Cormac Mcarthy, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, Our Kind of Traitor by John Le Carre etc.
TL: When did you first encounter Tolkien?
NP: I first encountered Tolkien in college through a very good friend of mine. I've been an admirer ever since. Now almost every year I read one of his books or at least some part of his books. I never get tired of it. It's always a very satisfying experience.
TL: How did you come up with the idea to translate The Hobbit to Marathi?
NP: We are always looking for authors / genre's that are not very well known to readers of our part of the world. And we want to give our readers a eclectic mix of world literature from great authors with a wide range of subjects and styles. Plus, The Hobbit and Tolkien being personal favourites seemed like a natural choice. We are quite confident the Marathi readers will enjoy their introduction to the Middle-earth.
TL: Is the release of The Hobbit movies an important factor for this translation?
NP: We actually had no idea that the movie was coming out when we acquired the rights. I think at that time due to recession no one was sure if and when the movie would come out. So NO, it wasn't really a factor in our decision.
TL: Was it difficult to get the rights for the translation and publication?
NP: It wasn't particularly difficult to acquire the rights. Harper Collins who represent the Tolkien estate were very happy to add a new language and readily accepted our proposal. They were very supportive throughout the process.
TL: Will this be an illustrated edition and if so who will be the illustrator?
NP: Yes. This will be an illustrated edition and we have acquired the rights to use the Illustrations of Alan Lee in our edition.
TL: Will the first Marathi The Hobbit be a hardcover or a paperback – and why?
NP: We want the book to remain in people's bookshelves for years to come. So that they can go back to it again and again, lend it to their friends, family and so on. For these reasons and since we are doing an illustrated edition with colour paintings and pencil sketches we decided to go for a hardcover.
TL: Are you aware of the fact that there are rumors of a Marathi translation of The Hobbit to be in existence?
NP: I had absolutely no idea of any such rumours and but it is safe to say that it is only a rumour.
TL: Did you know there is a person in India who translated The Hobbit to Bengali?
NP: Looks like he went the self publishing route. From what I read on the internet it is a retelling of The Hobbit and not a faithful translation. But only the translator can clarify on that. All the same, we wish him all the best for his efforts.
TL: I read that there will be produced 5000 copies and that this exceptional. How does this compare to other books?
NP: Yes that is true. In Marathi usually initial print runs are small (1000-2000 copies). But we are very happy with the translation and the way the book has turned out. We will be heavily promoting the book throughout the region. Hence we decided to go for a larger print run.
TL: When will this book be available and how can collectors world-wide order a copy?
NP: The book is now available in India. We are currently exploring how we can make it available internationally. I will update you once we have the arrangement in place.
TL: Can we now expect a translation of the other works by Tolkien as well?
NP: We are definitely exploring that possibility. Ideally we would like to publish LOTR at some time in future if everything works out. Let's hope for the best.
The translator Meena Kinikar answers
Here’s my background in a nutshell. I have done my Masters of Science in Geography from University of Pune in India. I have worked for several years as a Professor of Geography at S.P College that is part of the same University. I also hold a Diploma in French Language from University of Pune and have worked in Paris as a Researcher in Geography with University of Sorbonne, France.
I enjoy doing translations from English to our native Marathi language. It is my honor to make available to our students and Marathi readers, English books in a more accessible format. I have translated over 20 science books for school students. My last, big project was the translation of the famous inspirational management book – You can win by management Guru Shiv Khera. Happily, my book has been a best seller for quite some time (More than 100,000 copies of my Marathi book have been sold so far).
My husband Anil Kinikar works as an Editor in Marathi language. He has also authored several novels and poems in Marathi. He shares my love for translation work and has translated 12 novels from English into Marathi. Currently, he is working on translating Cormac McCarthy’s novel – Road for Diamond Publications. We anticipate that our next project will be The Great Gatsby (by F. Scott Fitzgerald) which we are reading at present.
TL: Did you read all tolkien's books before you started on the translation?
MK: I have read some works by J.R.R. Tolkien – Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings to name a few. I have also watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy movies and visited its website. I began my translation project by studying The Hobbit and reading it many times over. I referred to The Hobbit website often and discussed many of the nuances of the language and plot with Mr. Nilesh Pashte who is a great fan of Tolkien’s works. Many clarifications regarding the Marathi language came across as I discussed the scenes with my husband.
TL: Tolkien wrote about the Dutch translation of The Lord of the Rings: "In principle I object as strongly as is possible to the 'translation' of the nomenclature at all (even by a competent person). I wonder why a translator should think himself called on or entitled to do any such thing. That this is an 'imaginary' world does not give him any right to remodel it according to his fancy, even if he could in a few months create a new coherent structure which it took me years to work out. [...] May I say at once that I will not tolerate any similar tinkering with the personal nomenclature. Nor with the name/word Hobbit." (3 July 1956, to Rayner Unwin, Letters, pp. 249-51). How did you go about this? Did you change names or even the word Hobbit?
MK: As I began this arduous project, my husband and I met many times with Mr. Nilesh Pashte and Manasi Joshi from the publishing house. We decided that no changes of names would be done. This would help to preserve the originality of The Hobbit. Having said that even the basic terms such as 'Elf', 'Goblin', 'Orc', 'Dwarf' etc have been used as they are except printed in Marathi. Given our goal of bringing to Marathi readers the feel and flavor of the original book - Hobbit, there was no question of changing plot/storyline/scenes/poems etc. We have closely followed Tolkien’s writing style.
TL: Did you read tolkien's own advise on translating his works, called Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings (a new edition called Nomenclature was recently published in The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion), before you started the translation?
MK: I wish we knew that such a guide existed, for it would have been a fantastic help throughout our project. Fortunately the strategy that we have followed – as mentioned in above answer, seems to be in accordance with Tolkien’s suggestions. We thank you for bringing this to our notice.
TL: Following up on that point, what genre of literature did you use to translate before Tolkien, and what genre are you currently translating, aside from Tolkien?
MK: I have summed up my background and translation work so far, in my introduction. Hope that gives you a better idea of my literary background.
TL: The Hobbit features next to the tale also a lot of poetry, how did you go about translating these?
MK: This was the most remarkable challenge of this translation project. However since my husband is a writer and poet we have read a lot of Marathi and English poems and are familiar with the genre. To give us an understanding about how to do the poetry translations, we did more groundwork. We studied many poems translated from English to Marathi and devised our own strategy to do it. Similar to prose, we have maintained the meaning, the rhythm and the Haiku style of the original poems.
TL: How important is this translation for the Indian people? Do you believe the tale will now find a larger public, since The Hobbit has been released in India in English for a long time?
MK: Though English is rapidly becoming 'The' business language in India, a large percentage of the reader population prefers other languages. Marathi is a predominant language in the state of Maharashtra. So although this book was released in India years ago, it was still not easily accessible to the Marathi readers. It is our hope that this translation will open the gates to Marathi Readers and bring to them the world of Tolkien.
TL: If The Hobbit in Marathi is a big success do you look forward to translate other works like The Lord of the Rings?
MK: We are sure that The Hobbit in Marathi is going to be a big success. As for translating The Lord of the Rings, I am sure it will be an even bigger challenge. Both, the publisher and I are excited at the prospect of potentially taking up the translation work. I will be in touch if we ever decide to go for it.
TL: Do you look forward to the release of The Hobbit movies and how did you experience The Lord of the Rings movies in India?
MK: We are eagerly looking forward to the release of The Hobbit Movie in India. The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a hit in India and was greatly appreciated especially by the younger generation in India.
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