Discussion Group: Rewriting the Rules in Translation with Mohini Gupta

In this discussion, Mohini Gupta discussed her Hindi translations of Vikram Seth’s English poetry, specifically from the collection Beastly Tales from Here and There (Penguin Books India, 1991). Vikram Seth is one of India’s most well-known Indian English writers, with titles such as The Suitable Boy to his credit.

After tracing the diverse meanings of ‘translation’ or ‘anuvaad’ in the South Asian context, she reflected on her own translation practice and decisions. Do these decisions differ with the changing linguistic direction of her translation—and to what extent are these decisions also determined by the cultural identity of the author and translator? How do the politics of italicisation and linguistic gatekeeping come into play in this text? Can translation be utilised as an effective tool to decolonise the postcolonial underpinnings of an original text? The discussion was accompanied by readings and interactions with the group.


Mohini Gupta is a DPhil candidate at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford. She was selected as the Charles Wallace India Trust Translator-Writer Fellow in 2017 for creative writing and translation, hosted by Literature Across Frontiers. An alumna of SOAS University of London, she has been a Research Fellow at Sarai, CSDS; and a translator-in-residence at the Sangam House international writers’ residency in Bangalore. She has written on languages, literature and translation for publications such as Huffington Post, The Caravan Magazine, TheWire.in, Scroll.in and the WorldKidLit Blog. Her English-Hindi translations have been published by Tulika Publishers.