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Devdas

Devdas is not just a name but also a character type, easily identifiable and widely understood.

books Updated: Feb 05, 2003 13:48 IST

Devdas
Saratchandra Chattopadhyaya
Translated by Sreejata Guha
Penguin Books
Fiction
New Delhi, 2002 (first published in Bengali in 1917)
Pages 128
Price: Rs 99 (Paperback

One of the most memorable characters of modern Indian fiction, Devdas has passed from being a proper noun to a common one. Today, Saratchandra's Devdas is not just a name but also a character type, easily identifiable and widely understood.

And what has perhaps helped in the popularisation is the spate of films made on the novel, the latest of which is still drawing crowds to the theatres. The release of this latest cinematic version is also perhaps the reason for this new translation of the book to be launched.

For those familiar with the novel, in its print or celluloid versions, this edition holds no surprises in terms of content. Devdas is still as impulsive, the tragedies that fill his life still more of his own making than anyone else's, the trajectory of self-destruction still goes downhill at an acute angle… and the women in his life nevertheless pine for him in a way guaranteed to make other men envious.

So no novelties there. The fairly long introduction is a plus, though one may disagree with some of the translator's views. The translation, however, is commendable, especially as she has managed to retain the flavour of the original.

So all that can be said about this edition is that it is timely and suits the pocket of the ordinary buyer very well. The cover would work better without the two faces in colour.