Irony in Hindi Short Stories: Translation and Structural Analysis

Dent, Charles Tilghman

     The dissertation comprises the translation of nine Hindi short stories and the analysis of their structures of irony, each story or set of stories being followed by a chapter of analysis. The Introduction discusses the nature of irony, the short story and irony, the existing critical studies on irony in India and the West, and the topic of literary translation. The dissertation takes up the notion of irony as an effect on the reader rather than a figure of speech, whose "meaning" cannot be delimited but is rather to be discovered by the reader through his experience of the text as an aesthetic whole. The body of the dissertation consists of the stories and their analyses. The analyses demonstrate how certain grammatical and semantic devices of Hindi, in conjunction with such narrative devices as multiple voices and frames, help create a distinct ironic effect in each story. Three structures of irony are presented: irony of polarity, irony of ambiguity, irony of ambivalence. Irony of polarity is shown to arise from the gap between the ideal and the real; irony of ambiguity from the blurring of the ideal/imaginary and the real; irony of ambivalence from the unstable relationship between the ideal/imaginary and the real. These, in both their basic as well as combined/modified forms, are exemplified in the selected stories. Throughout, the analyses draw insights from the specific challenges that the translator, who aims to convey the Indianness as well as the aesthetic quality of the stories, must face in rendering the ironic effect present in the original text. The final chapter deals with such genres on the periphery of the current topic as satire, comedy, and romance, in their relation to the ironic mode. The Conclusion and Appendices offer additional grammatical/semantic and literary topics for further study of irony in Hindi fiction and its translation.