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Starting at the End: Translation in Goan Literary History


· Daniela Spina Centre for Comparative Studies - University of Lisbon (Lisbon, Portugal)


07/27 | 09:20-09:40 UTC+2/CEST


Translation played a key role in the history of Goan literature written in Portuguese. We could say that Indo-Portuguese literature begins and ends with a translation. According to the most important works on the literary history of Goa, the documents that prove the emergence of a Latin literacy in the 17th century were translations of Catholic texts from Portuguese into Konkani, the vernacular language of Goa, made for evangelical and didactic purposes. Between the 19th and 20th century, translations also worked in the opposite direction: intellectuals from the Hindu community of Goa start to translate texts from Marathi literature into Portuguese, to spread them among Catholic Goans. Even more peculiar is the case of Adeodato Barreto, a young Goan Catholic poet, who in the 1930s begins to translate into Portuguese philosophical texts from the Vedic literary tradition, to make Catholic Goans aware of their Hindu cultural roots. It is no less important to mention that Adeodato Barreto had become familiar with that literary tradition by reading translations made by French Indologists. After the end of Portuguese colonialism in India, in 1961, the Portuguese language began to fade, leaving room for Konkani, Marathi and, above all, English, that became the main literary language. From that moment until now, the most successful works of Indo-Portuguese literature, published during colonialism, have been translated into English. In light of these different cases of translation, is it possible to consider translation as a key-concept for writing a new history of Goa’s multilingual literature? This is the question this paper will try to answer.