On the last day of our classes on technical editing, we went to visit the Jadavpur University Press to get an idea of how a university press functions. Upon reaching the Jadavpur University premises, which was buzzing with youthful energy, Dr Devalina Mookerjee (our instructor for the past week on technical editing) introduced us to her colleague, Dr Abhijit Gupta, director of the JUP. Both of them were very welcoming and made us feel at ease.
Dr Gupta talked to us about the various kinds of books that the JUP publishes. Apart from scholarly research and translations, JUP’s effort towards restoring and publishing rare and old manuscripts is really commendable. They talked to us about some of their recent books such as Essays on Half-Tone Photography by Upendrakishore Raychowdhury, which is a collection of rare essays put together in a single volume for the first time and Five Thousand Mirrors: The Water Bodies of Kolkata by Mohit Ray. Dr Gupta also spoke to us about the paucity of funds, the initial struggles with the press, problems that come with publishing Bengali books—mostly due to the use of outdated technology—and their vision of becoming an independent press some day.
Dr Mookerjee talked to us about two of JUP’s latest projects that include the translation of Dante’s Inferno and Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore into Bengali. Dr Mookerjee encourages students to explore their creativity. The press is also involved in fun and creative sessions with students. I noticed that a lot of the students’ works have been used to decorate the press. Despite limited manpower, massive workload and deadlines, the workplace at the JUP is well maintained. In an attempt to explore newer pastures, the press is also planning, in partnership with HarperCollins India, to publish graphic novels. JUP has already received brilliant submissions from the students at the university. I was completely awestruck by some of the illustrations!
Towards the end of the session I still found myself admiring the book covers. It was the perfect end to the week-long technical editing classes.