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Over the past 30 years, translations in India have gained a higher public profile than ever before. More books of translated literature are being published every year and public interest in translation, as evidenced through, sales, discourse, and awards, has grown steadily. This is no doubt a heartening development for people on the supply side – writers, translators, publishers, and literary agents – and naturally for literary enthusiasts of all description, it is indeed hard to put a finger on what it all means for society as a whole, if it means anything at all. Is it too early – or not – to be talking about ‘Uniting Cultures through Translations’? If we want to explore the possibility of so grand a mission, what should we be looking at?

As the first step in this exploration, let us look at the function of literature and by extension, translated literature.

No one could have put it more pithily than Susan Sontag when she says, ‘[Translation] mirrors and duplicates the role of literature itself, which is to extend our sympathies; to educate the heart and mind; to create inwardness; to secure and deepen the awareness (with all its consequences) that other people, people different from…

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Abdul Gh Lone