In this fascinating talk, Hindi Urdu Flagship Director, Rupert Snell, presents his recent work on the diverse genre of autobiographical writing in Hindi. The talk, entitled Autobiography is Another Story: “Lives” in Hindi, features audio recordings of a number of Hindi Urdu Flagship students and faculty reading from a wide variety of Hindi autobiographies.
According to Snell, his research “looks at several kinds of autobiographical writing in Hindi – revisiting a genre in which I have previously done translations and literary analysis.The texts included here vary widely, from self-consciously literary works to more spontaneous memoirs by ‘amateur’ writers. Most of the examples were written in the second half of the 20th century, but their narratives typically pertain to its first half and hence show a natural intertextuality in shared themes such as the Independence movement. Just as there are similarities of theme, so are there wide differences in literary conventions, narrative technique, and tone, and my aim is to compare and celebrate these in an exploratory overview of the genre.”
Snell’s published work includes numerous textbooks and readers in Hindi and its pre-modern dialects. His research interests focus on the poetics of Braj Bhasha poetry from temple and court, and he is preparing a translation of the Satsai of Biharilal for the Murty Classical Library of India (Harvard University Press). His interests in Hindi autobiography stem from his translation of Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s 4-volume memoirs as a single volume with the title, In the Afternoon of Time (1998).