English has a peculiar way of redefining the selves and locations of readers, especially in countries where Anglo-American texts are studied with a multicultural awareness. Ernest Hemingway's “Hills like White Elephants” creates a world elsewhere not only for the couple who travel elsewhere but also for the students who read their story in Kerala (India) when they explore the “elsewheres” they create together as a class by translating it into Malayalam. The student-translators are apt to discover that there is more to Jig's unspoken anguish and the largely unspeakable differences that surface between the two lovers. While Hemingway's lean style is understood for what infinite suggestions it evokes in English, students surprise themselves with meanings—pregnant possibilities that suggest themselves in Malayalam, and unbeknownst to English/monolingual readers. Translation, like the extremely sparse exchanges between Jig and her lover, must exercise extreme caution, however, in committing no more words than must essentially be committed. Concealing what no longer needed concealment, or was soon to be found too big for concealment anyway, is a worrisome theme here whose reflection in translation is hard to sustain unless the Malayali translators match Hemingway's superior command of language. Besides such knowledge, a translator's intertextualities are as invisible as, and perhaps much harder to share with others than, a teacher's challenges and excitement of teaching “Hills” in English in a multilingual classroom. Perhaps from such dreams begin the responsibilities of reading a story as yet unwritten in Hemingway's classic every time we read it elsewhere.
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K. Narayana Chandran; Being Elsewhere: “Hills like White Elephants,” Translation, and an Indian Classroom. Pedagogy 1 October 2016; 16 (3): 381–392. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15314200-3600749
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