Mathew John K., who teaches at EFLU, has published an anthology of selected poems by 19th century German poet Wilhelm Busch in Malayalam

Mathew John K., who teaches at EFLU, has published an anthology of selected poems by 19th century German poet Wilhelm Busch in Malayalam

Translating poetry without losing its essence is hard work. It is more difficult when the translation is from a European language into a Dravidian language, a language with an entirely different set of linguistic and cultural connotations.

Mathew John K., who teaches in the German department of the University of English and Foreign Languages ​​(EFLU) in Hyderabad, has published an anthology of selected poems, including notable graphic poems, from the 19 e century German poet, satirist and caricaturist Wilhelm Busch in Malayalam.

The collection includes the original in German, the sketches of the poet and the direct translation into Malayalam, with a glossary in three languages ​​and an interpretation of the poems in English.

Wilhelm Busch’s poetry has been noted for its satirical and realistic portrayal of mundane life with implicit socio-political critique and translation, “with the ‘transculturalization’ of a traditional old-world German poet into a language and culture natives of South India, is actually a bold attempt which has hardly been undertaken so far,” according to Babu Thaliath from the Center for German Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University who wrote an introduction to the translation .

“The fact that Busch’s poems have mostly been translated into poetic meters [rhyme] attests to the seriousness and precision of the translator…”, he notes.

While Busch arguably defined the concept of humor for Germans, Mr. John’s attempt is to transplant it into Malayalam using the linguistic characteristics and dialectical richness of Malayalam.

In his foreword, the translator cites Busch’s illustrated verse stories such as “Max and Moritz” as containing a substratum of social criticism, attempting to draw parallels with a poem by Ayyappa Paniker. The book, published by Bodhi Tree Books and Publications in Thiruvananthapuram, is aimed at readers interested in poetry translation and Keralites who know Malayalam and are studying German, he claims.