Lost in Translation: Gandhi's Hemingway-esque Prose

| 3/5/2008 5:40:00 PM

Acclaimed author Suketu Mehta is preparing a new translation of Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography, The Story of My Experiments With Truth, from the original Gujarati text. The tome has been translated into the English language before, but not properly, Mehta argues in an interview with the Believer.

The book was translated to English by two of Gandhi’s political secretaries, who lost an important quality of the original work—the concise wording that Gandhi hoped would appeal to the masses. “Gandhi’s style was like Hemingway: direct, short sentences, easily read, and subtle. Not so in the English,” says Mehta.  “[They] were very good political secretaries but not necessarily good writers in English. Gandhiji did look over the translation and corrected it, but you know, he had had a few other things on his mind, like leading a country to independence!”

Sarah Pumroy