19 September, 2020

Vishnu, Her Paramour

Andal’s god is a sensual presence. This book does justice to her verse.

Vishnu, Her Paramour

Picking this book, a discerning writer is bound to be struck by the thoughtfulness behind its title’s typeset. The book claims to be the autobiography of a goddess, whose name is printed in lower case. Is the legend of Andal bigger than the woman herself? Or is it a stylistic nudge towards Andal’s constant insistence on challenging the fixity of identity, name being its prime marker? This collaborative work of translation of Andal’s poetry from Tamil into English is a multi-terrain journey encompassing the slippery turf of translation studies, the lofty mounts of Bhakti poetry and above all, the raging sea of female sexuality.

Priya Sarukkai Chabria and Ravi Shankar are poets in their own right, thus imbuing this tra­n­slation with a unique sense of poetics. Ravi’s “It pervades the air with his name—Hari. Hari. Hari. Hurry!” therefore does not appear gimmicky despite its license with the target language, and neatly complements the transcendentalism of Andal’s life and poetry. Ravi focuses on the poetics and aims at...



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