Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Taking Soviet Classics to Malayalam

Professor, writer and journalist Mrs Mini Menon at class

It is said that the German philosopher and revolutionary socialist Karl Marx had so much love for the plays written by William Shakespeare that he would narrate the tales from them to his children. However, it is unclear whether Marx’s children did anything on Shakespearean plays in future. But, Mini Menon, an Assistant professor of Malayalam at Hindusthan College of Arts and Science, has authored around ten books, after inspired by her communist father Rajan Menon, who used to narrate her tales from revolutionary literatures like Maxim Gorky’s Mother, Ethel Lilian Voynich’s The Gadfly and Alexander Dumas’s Three Musketeers, when she was a little school girl.  

“I took interest in translation literature after reading the epic Mahabharatha in Malayalam, a prose translation that came out in 40 volumes, while I was studying just class VII in Kerala” recalls the 47 year old Mini Menon, who was also a journalist once, working as a sub-editor in the Malayalam daily ‘Kerala Kaumudi’ in Calicut.

“My colleagues, who are all Tamils, greatly encourage me to translate valuable works into Malayalam. But, it is painful when they say that they only cannot read my writings” avers Mini.

Mini informs that as she hails from a communist family in Kerala, she got interested in translating left literatures into Malayalam.

She has so far translated Lev Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Mikhail Sholokov’s famous novel And Quite Flows the Don, Alexander Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo and so on. Her translation works also include Homer’s Illiad, Jenny Marx’s letters, Biography of Helen Keller, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karmazov and many more. Lauding her contributions in translation literature, the Kerala Cultural Centre of Coimbatore, has recently honoured her with an award.

When asked what her readers, particularly, her students say about her books, Mini’s answer is optimistic:

“I still remember one of my students admired me after reading volumes of my books in a short time. But, at the same time, some even wonder why I should waste time in writing”

Mini does not know to read Tamil. She has just begun to learn it.

“I have heard Thirukural is an unparalleled literary work.  I wish to translate it into Malayalam soon after learning Tamil” she winds up.

B. Meenakshi Sundaram



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