The text and translation presented here have used as a jumping-off point on the Urdu side the very first printing, from the monthly chaand , December 1935, pp. 988-996. I have recently (Nov. 2005) obtained a xerox of that version, thanks to the good offices of Shamsur Rahman Faruqi. It's part of this website; if you'd like to look at the original pages all together, here's *the original Urdu text*. (They're also linked at appropriate points in my own version of the text.) I've taken this original text as primary, and in the few places where I've departed from it, I've explained my choices in footnotes. I have, however, broken up the sometimes very long paragraphs in the original, and have tried to adjust the very erratic punctuation (for example, sometimes speech is framed in quotation marks, and sometimes it's not) in a way both illustrative and helpful to the student. Since Premchand himself was little interested in such niceties, and the katib who originally calligraphed the story was not necessarily very careful either, I don't feel that much is lost through my small adjustments. Anyone who prefers the original text can of course use that instead.
On the Hindi side, for the present I've used the text from premchand kii hindii-urduu kahaaniyaa;N , edited by Dr. Kamal Kishor Goyanka (New Delhi: Bharatiya Jnanpith, 1990), pp. 228-243. Dr. Goyanka says he has followed the original version most scrupulously. Here's a copy of his *carefully edited Hindi text*. I hope in due course to get hold of the earliest printed version, from the monthly chaa;Nd , April 1936, and go through it carefully myself, and add it to the website too.
Everyone agrees that in his earlier days, Premchand wrote his stories in Urdu script, afterwards transcribing them (or hiring some local helper to transcribe them) into Devanagari, so that he eventually published practically everything in both scripts. But then at a certain point in his career he is said to have reversed the process, since he was paid better by the increasingly flourishing Hindi journals than by the Urdu ones. But this fact tells us little about scripts; an anecdote from around 1929-30 makes this clear:
An admirer of Premchand's Hindi works, we are told, was once intrigued to see a bundle of Urdu manuscipts by his side, and asked Premchand if he still kept up his interest in Urdu.
"Of course," said Premchand. "I do."
"You mean you still write in Urdu?"
"Yes, I do. While my mornings are devoted to writing in Hindi, my evenings are devoted to Urdu."
--(Madan Gopal, Munshi Premchand: A Literary Biography, Delhi, 1964, p. 281).
For many stories, we don't know which version he originally composed. Life is short, and I haven't looked into the complex and fragmentary evidence about all this. But I want to describe my own observations after closely comparing Urdu-script and Devanagari versions of two of his stories.
I first experimented with such comparisons while doing the research for "The Chess Players: From Premchand to Satyajit Ray" (Journal of South Asian Literature 22,2, Summer-Fall 1986, pp. 65-78). The Devanagari and Urdu-script versions that I compared line by line were mostly sentence-for-sentence the same. (Sentence boundaries are sometimes hard to determine in the usage and punctuation of Premchand's time, but this is true in both scripts.) At the word-for-word level, there were many small differences of vocabulary and word order. None of this surprised me. What did surprise me was that there were some sentences in the Urdu-script version I used, that were not in the Devanagari version I used; but no sentences in the Devanagari version that were not in the Urdu-script one. (See the article for examples.) That led me to imagine a casual transcriber who overlooked a sentence here and there in the course of what was basically mechanical work. I wondered whether other stories would show the same pattern.
In "The Shroud," however, the situation turns out to be much more complex. Although the Urdu-script and Devanagari versions are about 90% sentence-for-sentence the same, with only minor changes of wording, plainly some creative flourishes have also been added to each version individually. There are a number of phrases, and indeed whole sentences, in each version that do not appear in the other.
For the purposes of the present text and translation, I've started with the Urdu-script version. In my best literary judgment, this is more likely to have been the original one. A number of distinctive turns of phrase in it seem to be somewhat awkwardly paraphrased in the Devanagari version, and I don't notice examples that go the other way. But this kind of argument is complicated, and I don't want to get started on it here, so let's just say I began with the Urdu-script version as a matter of choice. Since in any case the two versions are 90% sentence-for-sentence the same, for translation purposes the differences are not very significant anyway.
And where the differences do occur, I've harmonized them. I've augmented the Urdu-script version from the Devanagari version, so that the story becomes as complete as possible. Phrases and sentences that appear only in the Urdu-script version are given within *asterisks*. Those that appear only in the Devanagari version are given within [brackets]. This harmonization could be achieved without doing violence to the story because the unique material in each version is supplementary and involves elaboration of detail; nothing unique to either version contradicts anything in the other version.
So please note that my translation and text here don't exactly reflect either version. They are a NEW, harmonized version. In my translation, as in my text, I've broken up a few extremely long paragraphs, and of course I've had to make my own choices about some of the punctuation, as any Premchand translator must. My translation is designed both to intrigue scholars (and perhaps inspire future textual work on Premchand), and to offer maximum textual access to the serious general reader. The accompanying harmonized text is designed for the use of the reader and learner, especially of Urdu.
If you read the translation-- please don't mind that it's annotated in a way that sometimes is more for the Urdu-Hindi reader than for the general reader. I hope to improve the annotations in the future. In the meantime, you can be sure that it's sentence-for-sentence faithful to the (harmonized) text; it's not any kind of a "transcreation." What you'll read is as close as I can come in reasonable English to what Premchand wrote.
If you read the text in Urdu script-- if you're a student, remember that in order to show his two characters' rustic dialect and/or lack of education, Premchand makes them mispronounce many Persianized words. He shows this by deliberately misspelling the words they mispronounce. Maybe at some later point I'll annotate the text especially for students. In the meantime, at the bottom of every text page is a link to the online Platts Dictionary.
If you read the text in Devanagari script-- please remember that it's based on the Urdu-script version (thus with more Perso-Arabic vocabulary), supplemented from the Devanagari one. And though it can be displayed in Devanagari, the results will not conform to modern standard Hindi spelling norms. That's because it's using script software that has been specially configured for optimal display of Ghalib's ghazals (here's *an explanation*). So if you want a more traditional Devanagari-script version, you can find one in *A Premchand Reader*, edited by Norman Zide (Honolulu: East-West Center Press, 1965), pp. 99-110.
-- "The Shroud" index page -- FWP's main page --