Danielou's French translation of the Kama sutra

zydenbos at flevoland.xs4all.nl zydenbos at flevoland.xs4all.nl
Sat Apr 5 14:09:26 UTC 1997

Replies to msg 04 Apr 97: indology at liverpool.ac.uk (thompson at jlc.net)

 tn> From: thompson at jlc.net (George Thompson)
 tn> Subject: Re: Danielou's French  translation of the Kama
 tn> sutra

 tn> Well, it appears that Jean Fezas has demonstrated beyond
 tn> reasonable doubt
 tn> that Danielou was no Sanskritist [...]

With reference also to the rumour about the hijacked Ma.nimeekalai translation
which Jacob Baltuch unintentionally mentioned: we may as well add that Danielou
was hardly a great Tamil scholar either. His translation of the Cilappatikaaram
is not a "translation", but rather a feeble paraphrase.

I have not read D.'s Ma.nimeekalai, but his Cilappatikaaram is so poor that I
am inclined not to dismiss the rumour as mere hearsay. It is of course suspect
that Gopal Iyer had been working on a translation for quite a while.

 tn> General question: can one be a bad philologist, but still a good
 tn> Indologist in some sense?

(A tentative answer:) When a person's philology / general mastery of his Indian
source language reaches a certain level of badness, we may doubt whether he
still has an adequate idea of what he is talking about. So there clearly is a
connection. Within certain reasonable margins, depending also on the focus of
the writing, we may forgive an occasional bit of philological laxity. And there
are different personal styles of presentation. But if something is offered as a
translation from the Sanskrit when it is actually more from the Hindi...

Robert Zydenbos

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