Three years from now, when the Harvard University Press, a major publisher of nonfiction, scholarly and general interest books, marks its 100th anniversary, it will also publish the first book in the Murty Classical Library of India series.
The dual-language series aims both to serve the needs of the general reading public and to enhance scholarship in the field, Harvard Provost Steven E Hyman said. ‘The Murty Classical Library of India will make the classical heritage of India accessible worldwide for generations to come,’ he said.
This is the first time an undertaking to publish over 100 books from various Indian languages through a major publisher has been launched. The project was set up recently with a gift of $5.2 million by the Murty family.
“This is unprecedented,” said Rohan Murty — son of Indian information technology legend N R Narayana Murthy — a computer science PhD student at Harvard. “There was the Clay Sanskrit Library which recently ended the series, but we shall be publishing books from all Indian languages.”
“We gave our blessings to the project when we realized the concept Rohan has,” said Narayana Murthy.
The Nobel Laureate and Harvard Professor Amartya Sen, whose latest book is also published by HUP, said in a statement:’There are few intellectual gaps in the world that are as glaring as the abysmal ignorance of Indian classics in the Western world. It is wonderful that the Murty Classical Library of India is taking up the challenge of filling this gap, through a new commitment of the Harvard University Press, backed by the discerning enthusiasm of the Murty family, and the excellent leadership of Sheldon Pollock, an outstanding Sanskritist and classical scholar.’
We are very conscious that translators are also the authors in a way,” she said. “We want to produce authoritative and up-to-date translation.” The Murty series, she said, will show that the ancient world of learning also includes “the wonderful texts from India.”
“I want the newly translated books to reach young readers in India,” Rohan said. “Many kids in India would not have read Kalidasa’s Shakuntala.”
With three or four books published each year, Rohan said, “I hope it will continue for at least 100 years. We want the books to be as good as the finest books published by Harvard University Press and that is why we will wait for at least two years to produce the first book.”
The books will also be priced at low cost to reach Indian readers, he added: “We want everyone to read these books.”
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