English translations of 25 Bengali classic short stories penned by one of the most famous Indian writers of literary 'nonsense' and humour, Sukumar Ray, were launched Thursday on the occasion of the literary genius's 125th birth anniversary.
Sukumar Ray, known for collection of 'nonsense' poems like 'Abol Tabol' (Gibberish) and Ha-Ja-Ba-Ra-La (Mumbo-Jumbo), was the father of the legendary director Satyajit Ray.
Often compared with English author Lewis Carroll, Ray's imaginative works punctuated with puns and ending with twists charmed children and adults alike with their delightful wordplay.
The translated stories, featuring Ray's mischievous character 'Pagla Dashu' or Crazy Dashu and his madcap school friends, have been put together in the book 'The Crazy Tales of Pagla Dashu and Co.' by Hachette India.
The mammoth task of converting Ray's short stories from Bengali into English was successfully done by the Jadavpur University Translators' Collective over a period of two years and involved 17 translators.
"The translators include currents students, alumni and teachers as well. The translations did not take much time but designing the cover, and getting hold of rare photographs of the Ray family took a lot of time," said Abhijit Gupta, one of the translators.
The book is replete with Satyajit Ray's and Sukumar Ray's rare photographs and drawings.
Previously, eminent writer and teacher Sukanta Chaudhuri, who graced the launch, had translated the majority of Ray's poems in the book 'The Select Nonsense of Sukumar Ray' in 1987.
"Translating Ray's nonsense literature is extremely challenging and the challenge with stories like Pagla Dashu, lies in the fact that it is a dated work.
"Society has changed and schoolboys don't talk to each other like that anymore. It is more of a period piece," said Chaudhuri while launching the book at Starmark, South City Mall, here.
"Besides, the language is colloquial Bengali of around 100 years ago," said Chaudhuri.
Born Oct 30, 1887, Ray composed nonsense poetry, short stories and plays during his brief lifespan, before succumbing to leishmaniasis Sep 10, 1923.