"I now dream that someday we will be able to collect and publish in our language a whole book of original literary products, written directly in the international language... I believe that one original work, even if not very good, is much more important and worthy of respect than the ten best translations of the best national writings, because only an original work is completely our own property, in form and also content. Only an original work can prove to the world that our language is something really alive." --M.S. Rakitski, Lingvo Internacia, Aug. 1901; quoted in Auld, Enkonduko en la Originalan Literaturon de Esperanto, p. 15. "You provide the publishers; I'll guarantee the material." --Remark attributed to poet and translator Kalman Kalocsay, when asked about the availability of worthwhile publishable material in Esperanto.
There are a number of ways in which Esperanto differs from its erstwhile competitors in the interlinguistic world.(1) One of these is in its relationship to literature. Esperanto's literature has played an important role in contributing to a sort of Esperantist cultural "nationalism" unique to Esperanto among constructed language projects. In this, the interplay between language and literature resembles that in the proto-nations within the 19th century Middle European empires -- perhaps not coincidentally, since this area, as I have already mentioned, was Esperanto's original heartland.(2)
The source of Esperanto's literature, like that of Esperanto itself, was L. L. Zamenhof. Zamenhof, whose native language was Russian, nourished at least a few literary ambitions. As a student in Moscow, Zamenhof participated in the Russian Zionist movement and published a number of articles under various anagrammatical noms de plume; and he has also been identified as the pseudonymous author of one or two pieces of Russian-language poetry published in Moscow during the same period.
As I have earlier mentioned, much of the polishing of Esperanto from 1878 to 1885 was carried out through translations of literary works from other languages. In the First Book Zamenhof included six examples of Esperanto writing. One of these was the Lord's Prayer; another was the beginning of the Biblical Book of Genesis. A third was an example of a letter. The last three were purely literary in nature: a translation of a short poem by Heinrich Heine; and two original poems by Zamenhof himself. I include the latter here as examples of Esperanto.
Mia Penso Sur la kampo, for de l' mondo, Antau^ nokto de somero Amikino en la rondo Kantas kanton pri l' espero. Kaj pri vivo detruita S^i rakontas kompatante, -- Mia vundo refrapita Min doloras resangante. "C^u vi dormas? Ho, sinjoro, Kial tia senmoveco? Ha, kredeble rememoro El la kara infaneco?" Kion diri? Ne ploranta Povis esti parolado Kun frau^lino ripozanta Post somera promenado. Mia penso kaj turmento, Kaj doloro kaj esperoj! Kiom de mi en silento Al vi iris jam oferoj! Kion havis mi plej karan -- La junecon -- mi ploranta Metis mem sur la altaron De la devo ordonanta! Fajron sentas mi interne, Vivi ankau^ mi deziras -- Io pelas min eterne Se mi al gajuloj iras ... Se ne plac^as al la sorto Mia peno kaj laboro -- Venu tuj al mi la morto, En espero -- sen doloro! Ho, mia kor' Ho, mia kor', ne batu maltrankvile, El mia brusto nun ne saltu for! Jam teni min ne povas mi facile Ho, mia kor'! Ho, mia kor'! Post longa laborado C^u mi ne vinkos (4) en decida hor'? Sufic^e! Trankvilig^u de l' batado, Ho, mia kor'!I will not bore you, nor waste paper, with further examples of Esperanto literature in the main body of this text. But I hope that you can, using a dictionary, make out enough of what Zamenhof has written here to get at least some idea of what can be done with Esperanto -- even with the very restricted form available to Zamenhof in 1887. Several of my favorite poems will be found in Appendix 7.
Esperantists have been writing about the history of Esperanto's original literature for years now. One of the very first Esperanto books I ever bought was Kvar Prelegoj pri la Esperanto Literaturo ("Four Lectures on Esperanto Literature"), by a Slovene professor named Drago Kralj; this introduced me not only to Zamenhof but to names with which I would later become much more familiar -- Kalocsay, Baghy, Auld, Schwartz, Miyamoto, Zee, etc. A more recent, less encyclopedic but more interesting work is Auld's Enkonduko en la Originalan Literaturon de Esperanto ("Introduction to the Original Literature of Esperanto"). The latest contribution to the canon is Marjorie Boulton's short Ne Nur Leteroj de Plumamikoj ("Not Just Letters from Pen Pals"), a booklet written at the request of the Swedish Esperanto Federation specifically to be translated for the edification of outsiders. If space permitted, instead of writing my own summary I would simply give you Boulton's.
Over the next few years Zamenhof published several other poems in Esperanto; none of them was, in my opinion, as good as these first two, probably because they were exhortative rather than romantic. I believe that the best of these poems was La Vojo ("The Way"); but the most popular was certainly La Espero ("Hope") which, set to music in about 1909 by Lucien Menu de Menil, became the Esperanto hymn, one of the most rousing pieces of song that I know; I have seen two thousand Esperantists leap enthusiastically to their feet when a hotel orchestra in Beijing unexpectedly struck up its first chords. Worth noting is also Zamenhof's Preg^o sub la Verda Standardo ("Prayer Under the Green Flag"), which some experts consider technically superior to any of his other poems.
Most of Zamenhof's later, and better remembered, work consisted of translations, which I shall talk about later. His best-known early translation is that of Shakespeare's Hamlet, published in 1894. Like the King James Bible, Zamenhof's version is considered a questionable translation but esthetically far more pleasing than L. N. M. Newell's later, more faithful translation.
Incidentally, this shift from original poetry to translated literature also occurred with Zamenhof's two main literary successors, the Hungarian Kálmán Kalocsay and the Scotsman William Auld. All three men also became editors of highly influential Esperanto literary magazines.
As mentioned earlier, Zamenhof's first conversation in Esperanto was with the Pole Antoni Grabowski. Grabowski was also to become an important figure in early Esperanto literature, producing a number of poems, among which La Tagig^o ("Daybreak"), put to music, is still sung today. Grabowski's translations included the Polish opera Halka, the first international anthology of translated poetry El Parnaso de Popoloj ("From the Parnassus of Peoples"), and the Esperanto version of Poland's greatest literary work of the 19th century, Adam Mickiewicz's S-ro Tadeo ("Mr. Thaddeus").(3)
A third major author of the period was Kazimierz Bein, also known as Kabe. Bein, a Polish Esperantist, was considered the major stylist of this first period. He is best remembered today for his three-volume translation of Boleslaw Prus's La Faraono ("The Pharaoh"), a novel about ancient Egypt. Several of Kabe's works have been reprinted in recent years, most notably his translations from the Brothers Grimm (in Germany) and of Turgenev's Fathers and Sons (in China).
Unfortunately, Kabe is also remembered for having abandoned the Esperanto movement early in this century. In fact, his name has entered the language as a verb -- kabei, to drop out of the Esperanto movement.
Like the language itself, the literature of the first thirteen-year period was largely Eastern European rather than global in nature. But after the turn of the century the literature, like the language itself, spread to Western Europe, where it began to take on Western European forms.
Dr. Henri Vallienne, a Frenchman, made his first contribution to the Esperanto world by translating Vergil's Aeneid into Esperanto. Not content with this, in 1907 and 1908 he produced the first two original Esperanto novels -- Kastelo de Prelongo ("The Castle of Prelongue") and C^u Li? ("Him?"). He might have produced other such works, but he died soon after the appearance of the second work.
Vallienne's novels are by no means great world literature. It would be difficult to classify them in current terms -- perhaps a cross between Fielding's Tom Jones, a Harlequin novel, and a Silhouette Passion novel. Both books were published by the major French publishing house Hachette; and neither one has been republished since, though I once read that a part of C^u Li?, completely revised by Kálmán Kalocsay, was reprinted in 1938. Kralj dismisses Vallienne as "a great dilettante who was not able to develop his writing abilities because of insufficient knowledge of the International Language and because of the amateurishness of his talent." Auld is somewhat less critical: "...we must confess that, unfortunately, his style is not model; but with the passage of time, many of the criticized details seem less deserving of criticism, and I believe that a very moderate editing would be necessary to correct his language." A passage from ău Li? quoted by Auld, what appears to be the beginning of a rather amorous passage, rather captures the reader's interest, and it's unfortunate that, as Auld says, "[Finding the book] is [today] not the easiest job in the world."
The other major prewar novelist was Heinrich Luyken, an Englishman of German origin. Luyken was an Evangelical Christian, and all four of his novels reflected this worldview; in each one of them the hero embraces heresy and is subsequently "saved." For completists, the names of the four works in question are: Pau^lo Debenham ("Paul Debenham"); Mirinda Amo ("Wonderful Love"); Stranga Heredaj^o ("Strange Heritage"); and Pro Is^tar ("For Ishtar"). As far as I know, none of these books is available today, unless old copies of the last two are to be found in some obscure bookstore or Esperanto book service.(5)
For those who are interested in the plots of these works, I should mention that in 1979 the Hungarian Esperanto Association published the Libro de Romanoj ("Book of Novels"), in which Vilmos Benczik almost lovingly details the plots of both of Vallienne's novels and all four of Luyken's. If you are interested in these historical oddities, you could do worse than to pick up a copy of Benczik's work.
It is also possible that all six of these works will be reprinted in the not-so-distant future -- for their historical, not their literary, value.
I could go on listing early Esperantist authors for some time, but will content myself with the Czech poet Stanislav Schulhof, who published three collections of poetry, and the Swiss author Edmond Privat, about whom I have already written1.(8) Privat, who is best known for several later non-fiction works, before World War I published a collection of poetry, Tra l' Silento ("Through the Silence") and an Arthurian play Ginevra ("Guinevere"), both of which contain some of the densest, most masterful use of the language from that entire period. This is more astonishing when we realize that Privat himself was only 24 years old when World War I broke out and the period in question ended.
During this same period, a major conflict began that was to help shape both the language and its literature for the rest of their mutual lives. This was the constant ongoing struggle between the conservatives and the neologists.(6) The struggle would reach glorious heights in the 1930's, at the apogee of the career of Literatura Mondo, and would break out again in the late 1970's, but its roots lay in the very beginnings of Esperanto, specifically in Rule 15 of the famous 16 rules.(7) The first major manifestations of the struggle appeared in the first decade of the twentieth century, and had to do with dictionaries.(9)
The first battle of the war broke out in Dresden, in May of 1904, with the publication of the Wörterbuch Deutsch-Esperanto unter Redaktion von Dr. Zamenhof, herausgegeben von H. Jurgensen und M. Pagnier. For those who don't know, Wörterbuch is German for "dictionary." Several weeks later a companion Wörterbuch Esperanto-Deutsch appeared. These dictionaries gathered together a number of words that had only appeared once or twice before, in various little-read sources, and added a few neologisms of their own. They were, in fact, the most complete Esperanto dictionaries to appear up to that time, almost seventeen years into the life of the language.
The appearance of these new words incensed the French philologist Théophile Cart, who was the prototypical conservative -- though Waringhien suggests that Cart was simply "offended that he had not been consulted about the choice of new words." In an "open letter" to Zamenhof, Cart warned of a moment when, because of this landslide of new terms, Esperanto would "become for me too difficult, and perhaps for others, too."
When the Ido crisis exploded only a few years later, Cart and his followers gained extra strength, since one of the major demands of the Idists was that Esperanto should replace many of its conjoined words, which were in no way similar to standard West European roots with the same meanings, with "natural" words. From that moment on, when a new book or dictionary appeared with a new batch of word-roots, Cart & Co. took to crying: "Ido!"
The second worst pre-war offender in this regard appears to be Emile Grosjean-Maupin, a French Esperantist who would later become famous as the father of the near-definitive Plena Vortaro de Esperanto ("Complete Dictionary of Esperanto"). In July, 1910, in the book collection of La Revuo, Grosjean-Maupin published his Esperanto-French Dictionary. His long preface, quoted in part by Waringhien,(10) is an excellent early discussion of the conservative-neologist conflict and the merits of both sides, as well as a recognition of the need for the creative tension between the two in the evolution of Esperanto.
If Grosjean-Maupin was to be level-headed about his dictionary, Cart could not be; after all, Waringhien suggests, not only was there a question of principle, but this work was also in direct competition with E. Robert's new Dictionnaire Esperanto-français, published by Cart's own Esperantist Press Society. In addition to the usual batch of neologisms, Grosjean-Maupin accidentally slipped in a few direct Idisms and incorrect alternative forms. Basing his criticisms on these, Cart (as quoted by Waringhien) wrote:
"All of our dictionaries are unfortunately certain to contain errors, but here the errors are willing, intentional, systematic; they are no longer errors but crimes against the language. This dictionary is not only a bad dictionary but an evil act."
Grosjean-Maupin may have been the second worst prewar offender in the matter of neologisms; the worst was L. L. Zamenhof himself. Zamenhof, who in 1906 was given the job of editting Hachette's new Esperanto literary review named, appropriately enough, La Revuo ("The Review," of course), filled many of the pages with his own translations; it is from this period, as mentioned elsewhere, that much of his best work originates. As an example, Zamenhof's entire translation of the Old Testament appeared, book by book, in La Revuo.
Zamenhof found that, for ease of translation, many new words would be useful, and over the next eight years he proposed a huge number of neologisms. Some people spent years of their free time collecting and listing Zamenhof's new words.(11) Most of these, of course, never became official, and many of them are not to be found today, even in that most liberal of lexicons, the Plena Ilustrita Vortaro ("Complete Illustrated Dictionary"); but in their time they were enough to arouse the wrath of the conservatives.
The Esperanto movement, as has been described,(12) came through the First World War almost untouched; after the war it was only a question of regrouping strengths and going on from where it had left off. Not so Esperanto's literature; the war marked a major discontinuity for it. Hardly one prewar author reappeared after the war; by the 1920's a whole new crop of novelists and poets were going strong. Two exceptions to the mass disappearance of prewar authors were Luyken and Privat, but for very different reasons. Privat survived because he, like the world, had grown up a bit during the war, and he was already turning his talents to a completely different sort of literature. Luyken survived -- for four years -- perhaps because he had not grown at all, and his postwar literary works harked back to a prewar innocence.
The two most important postwar literary figures were two Hungarians, Gyula (Julio) Baghy and Kálmán Kalocsay. These two men, born in the same year (1891), living in the same city, both discovered Esperanto a few years before the war. Both of them studied Esperanto and then, for about a year, changed their interest to Ido. Both of them, interested in the literary possibilities of a constructed language, returned to the Esperanto fold at about the same time. Then the war came, and both of them went to war. Up to that time, as far as I know, neither of them knew the other -- unless, perhaps, they had met in passing at some Esperanto group meeting or another in Budapest.
Kalocsay, a doctor, was invalided out for a kidney ailment and sent home early in the war. Baghy was less fortunate; fighting on the Russian front, he was taken prisoner and sent to a POW camp in Siberia. He managed to return home, by a roundabout route, a year or so after the war had officially ended, the delay resulting from the civil war between Reds and Whites that raged across Russia and the simultaneous foreign interventions in the years following the end of World War I.
Baghy and Kalocsay also entered the literary world at almost the same time. In 1921 Kalocsay published his first book of original poetry Mondo kaj Koro ("World and Heart"); Baghy appeared in 1922 with Preter la Vivo ("Beyond Life").
I never cease to be amazed, after listing these parallels in the lives of the two men (who became great friends), to remark on how different they actually were. Baghy's education was, speaking charitably, sporadic; as the son of a family of peregrinating actors, he received a total of three years of formal schooling. Many of his early experiences are recounted in La Teatra Korbo (│The Theater Basket▓), a collection of short stories. Kalocsay was the very model of an early Middle-European preppie. Baghy, after returning from the war, found his family gone and his career as an actor permanently ruined; Kalocsay ended up running the pathology section of his own hospital. Baghy was a Catholic; Kalocsay managed to get along well with the Left, his name appearing on the masthead of the newsletter that served the Hungarian Esperanto Association during the 133 days of the postwar Hungarian Soviet Republic, before it was overturned and replaced by a more "traditional" (read: aristocratic, later Fascist) government. Kalocsay was what we would call a success, and lived fairly well; Baghy and his second family finally got a decent apartment only very late in his life, and then only with the help of the Hungarian government, so that Esperantists visiting the 1966 World Congress in Budapest who wanted to see their favorite author could go to his home. Kalocsay was, at least publicly, something of a puritan, though his two good friends Peter Peneter and Emiano Imby were definitely not blue-noses, as we shall see; Baghy apparently had an eye for the ladies, who in turn had an eye for him.(13) Kalocsay was a polyglot; Baghy spoke only Hungarian and Esperanto. Kalocsay dedicated much of his life to improving Esperanto's stock of translated literature from Hungarian and the major Western European languages; Baghy wrote only original material. Kalocsay won critical acclaim; the critics panned Baghy, whose works succeeded in only one place -- the marketplace! Baghy wrote several practical instructional pamphlets on Esperanto; Kalocsay was renowned as an expert on the theory of the language. Baghy travelled around the country teaching Esperanto; so far as I know, Kalocsay never taught a class. And in the Word Wars, Kalocsay was a neologist and Baghy an unregenerate conservative -- a situation which, far more than any of their other differences, almost brought them to blows.
Two of the earliest Esperanto works I read were Baghy's novels Printempo en Au^tuno ("Springtime in Autumn") and Hura!, which by luck I found in a southern California library. If I told you I couldn't remember the plots today, you might think that they were totally unmemorable works. Perhaps. But I do remember the feelings they roused in me -- Printempo actually had me in tears, and Hura! in stitches. This was the way Baghy wrote -- to arouse the reader's emotions, not his intellect. And he did it well.
These two books, incidentally, have had interesting histories. Printempo en Au^tuno went out of print for a number of years, but is available today in at least two editions. One of them is bilingual -- facing pages in Esperanto and Chinese; the book, in a translation by Ba Kin, one of China's best-known authors, became very popular in that country, and inspired Ba's own Autumn in Springtime, a story about the problems associated with love and arranged marriages (it is also available in Esperanto translation). Hura! was recently reprinted in Hungary and is also available today. Both books have been published in translation in a number of different national languages.
The Hungarian Esperantist Vilmos Benczik says of Baghy:
"Baghy is no giant of world literature; even in our literature there are not a few whose talents are greater than his. But his role in our literary history is unique: much more important than the abstract analysis of the esthetic qualities of his works would suggest. He appeared in a moment of decision and recognized the pretensions of the era; and in that way he became -- after Zamenhof -- our literature's second founder. He created a readership for Esperanto literature -- without a readership, there is no literature! -- , many, many people began their reading with his works. Baghy meant and even today means a necessary step for the man of average education on the way to the conquest of the higher towers of our literature."(14)This remains true to some degree even today; my daughter's first Esperanto class used, as a reader, Baghy's short didactic novel La Verda Koro ("The Green Heart"), which was based on his own experiences teaching Esperanto to his fellow POWs in Siberia.
Baghy's work in the post-World-War-II period was far less prolific, restricted by the political ebbs and flows that swept back and forth across Eastern Europe during the first two decades of the period. It consisted of a rather light-weight collection of short stories Koloroj ("Colors") (1960) and a collection of poetric fables C^ielarko ("Rainbow") (1966). But in this same period Baghy also presented the Esperantist reading public with what may eventually turn out to be his most important work -- a real tour de force, Song^e sub Pomarbo ("Dreaming Under an Apple Tree") (1958), a lyric drama about love in three acts and more than 200 pages. So far as I know, Song^e sub Pomarbo has never been staged, and probably won't be until it becomes economically worthwhile to do so -- after which we'll learn just how important a work it really is.
Baghy died in the late 1960's. Nevertheless, as Benczik says, he remains even today a major Esperanto literary figure whose works are often reprinted and reread. Four of his books, the novels Sur Sanga Tero ("On Bloody Ground") and Viktimoj ("Victims"), largely based on his own Siberian captivity, and the poetry collections Preter la Vivo ("Beyond Life") and Pilgrimo ("Pilgrimage"), were reprinted in 1990 by the Hungarian Phoenix Press.
Kalocsay published, if memory serves, a total of five original literary works, as well as a number of other original works which, while not literary in the restricted sense, were important for the development of Esperanto literature, such as Lingvo Stilo Formo ("Language Style Form"), an essay collection that appeared in the mid thirties.
Mondo kaj Koro has already been mentioned. Strec^ita Kordo ("Taut String") (1931), which contained most of Kalocsay's best original poetry, subsumed Mondo kaj Koro. Strec^ita Kordo is without a doubt the most important of Kalocsay's works; some say that it is the second most important book in the history of Esperanto. Strec^ita Kordo proved that Esperanto's literary capabilities were as great as those of any ethnic language. Auld devotes eight pages, out of his 95-page work, to that one book. It deserves them. Kalocsay's poems in this one volume span the whole gamut of human emotions, from the powerful alliterative joy of Sonorilludo ("The Game of Bells"), which is reminiscent of Poe's similar poem (which Kalocsay himself translated into Esperanto) through the piquant wittiness of Ezopa Fablo ("An Aesopian Fable") to the bitter free-verse conclusion of Homo ("Man"). Marjorie Boulton recounts how she, as an early student of Esperanto, was given some examples of rather amateurish Esperanto poetry to read, and suggests that, had her literary education stopped there, she would have remained at the stage of learning Esperanto suitable for trading stamps and picture postcards. Then someone lent her a copy of Strec^ita Kordo. Today she has published half a dozen volumes of her own poetry in Esperanto.
Rimportretoj ("Portraits in Rhyme") (1931) is relatively lightweight; it consists of a series of rondels commemorating various important Esperantists of the early and middle period. The influence of the work was such that even today such commemorative poems in Esperanto are written almost exclusively in the rondel format. Izolo ("Isolation") (1939) was printed but never released because of the outbreak of World War II and the suppression of Esperanto activity in the fascist countries, of which Hungary was one; five copies survived the war, and a "reprint" was finally made from one of these by UEA in 1977. The fifth, Ezopa Sag^o ("The Wisdom of Aesop") (1956), a collection of Aesopian fables in verse not to be confused with the similarly named poem mentioned earlier, was published in Copenhagen, Denmark.
In the early 1930's, in Budapest, an otherwise unknown Esperantist named, suggestively, Peter Peneter published the Sekretaj Sonetoj ("Secret Sonnets"), a collection of 52 erotic sonnets which together make up one of the best sex manuals I have ever run across (I have often wished that I had had a copy when I was a teen-ager so that I would have understood some of those physical and emotional reactions that so frightened me). Except for that one book, nobody ever heard of Peneter; and it is suggestive that his style and command of the language are almost identical with Kalocsay's. Kalocsay, who was publicly something of a prude, repeatedly denied that he was Peneter (though he said that he knew him personally). If Kalocsay was Peneter (which most authorities today believe), then it may truly be said that Kalocsay wrote two of the most important original works in Esperanto.
Kalocsay also possessed a second manuscript "given to me by [Peter] Peneter," whose working title was La Eksmonah^ino, au^ dek-du noktoj kun la Satano ("The Ex-Nun, or Twelve Nights With the Devil"). It appeared as a joint effort of the Literatura Foiro Cooperative and the Hungarian Esperanto Association in 1990, more than a decade after Kalocsay's death, under the auctorial name of Emiano Imby. All I would care to say about it at this time is that it makes the Sekretaj Sonetoj look like a religious tract.
Much of the pleasure of Kalocsay's poetry comes from his technical versatility; as my friend Daniel Treesong Burke once pointed out, in content Kalocsay had little to say that was new. And so it is probable that future generations will remember his name more for his translations than for his original poetry. Early in his career, Kalocsay produced a magnificent translation of the long epic poem Johano la Brava ("Janos the Gallant") by Sandor Petöfi, one of the greatest of Hungarian poets. It was this translation, perhaps more than the booklet Mondo kaj Koro, that caught the eyes of Western Esperantists, and made Kalocsay's name. Gaston Waringhien writes:
"[On a day in September 1927] I bought [a copy of Johano la Brava] and in the evening, on the train home, I read it through. That folk-tale in such sonorous verses so aroused my enthusiasm that, on the street that climbed from the railway station to my home, I quoted to myself a passage from that legendary expedition of the Hussars through the Indian mountains ... and I instinctively tried to transpose it into French."(15)A complete Petöfi, in translation by Kalocsay, was published as Libero kaj Amo ("Freedom and Love") by Corvina, the Hungarian national press, in 1970. But Petöfi was not Kalocsay's only interest in his native land. He translated poetry by many Hungarian poets of recent centuries. Probably the best known of his later translations was the well-known play La Tragedio de l'Homo ("Man's Tragedy") by Imre Madach. When the first edition of the Hungara Antologio ("Hungarian Anthology") appeared in the 1930's, all the poetry and much of the prose was provided by Kalocsay; and the second, heavily revised edition that appeared in the early 1980's, several years after his death, still relied heavily on his translations.
Though Kalocsay believed in the importance of the Hungarian literary experience, he was also interested in the rest of the Western world, and undertook a major program of translation into Esperanto from a large number of tongues. This program was original neither with Kalocsay nor with Esperanto. In many ways taking up where Zamenhof left off, the program was modelled not so much upon that of the creator of Esperanto as upon the work and principles of Mihaly Babits, author and editor of the influential Hungarian literary magazine Nyugat ("West Wind"). In his introduction to the section on Babits in the second edition of Hungara Antologio, Vilmos Benczik writes:
"His translating activity was also very valuable; he translated into Hungarian Dante's complete Divine Comedy, Shakespeare's The Tempest, and the poems of Baudelaire, Poe, Wilde. He was an important influence on Kalman Kalocsay's creation, not only through his poems, but also in his editorial principles. The model for the magazine Literatura Mondo is without doubt Nyugat, edited by Babits; in this way he considerably influenced the development of Esperanto poetry as well." (p. 178).Among his many translations, the best known are probably Dante's Infero ("The Inferno") and Shakespeare's Reg^o Lear ("King Lear"), Somermeznokta Song^o ("A Midsummer Night's Dream"), and La Tempesto ("The Tempest"). Perhaps the most important of Kalocsay's translated works was published posthumously: the Tutmonda Sonoro, a title which unfortunately does not lend itself well to translation into English. This is a two-volume collection of poetry from around the world, an expansion of an earlier collection of Kalocsay's. The book's two major parts cover the classical world, including a retelling of Ishtar's descent into Hell and what appears to be a complete collection of Catullus' poems to Lesbia, and the "modern," i.e. European, world; the latter section includes about a hundred different poets, including ten from the English language, among them the American Edgar Allen Poe. Along with the Esperanta Antologio ("Esperanto Anthology") this particular work is, in my opinion, a must on every serious Esperantist's bookshelf.
I have mentioned the magazine Literatura Mondo. This was the literary center of the Esperanto world in the 1920's and 1930's. Headquartered in Budapest and edited by Kalocsay, it went through three periods and was ultimately a casualty of the Great Silence, the Communist suppression of Esperanto in Eastern Europe from 1950 to 1956. In the 1930's it gathered around itself, in the so-called Budapest School, the literary lights of Esperanto between the wars from all over the world, including American and Chinese poets. As well as the magazine itself, LM published a series of literary works totalling over the years 66 separate volumes, including anthologies of Estonian, Hungarian and Czechoslovakian literature, and collections of original poetry by a more than a dozen different Esperanto poets. A special reprint of the entire series of the magazine was published in Japan in the 1970's and sold out almost instantly. One of the more delightful rumors of 1990 was that a privatized Esperanto publisher in Hungary was going to try to revive Literatura Mondo.
One of the most felicitous encounters in the history of Esperanto was that between Kalocsay and Gaston Waringhien, the French Esperantist. To explain this, let me here say a few words about Waringhien, one of the most influential Esperantists of the 20th century.
Waringhien's introduction to Esperanto came about in what we may think of as a typical way.
"I got to know Esperanto in 1916. At that time my city of birth Lille was occupied by the German army, and the "Kommandantur" lightly decreed, as a punishment for some kind of disobedience, that it was forbidden to be found outside the house from 5 p.m. to 6 a.m. During those long evenings the families living in various apartments of the same house got used to visiting each other; and so it happened that my father got to know a tax comptroller, M. Lephay, and the latter once told us that, while holding office in Boulogne-sur-Mer, he had participated in the First Congress of Esperanto. My mind was tickled by such a name and, wondering what an artificial language might be, I knocked several times on his door and asked for information about such an extraordinary invention. My interest was not purely philological: I was certainly attracted by the aspect of a "secret language," about which boys so often dream, but perhaps also by the presence of his daughter who, older than I, was adorned with long, black hair."(16)Waringhien is known among Esperantists as the author of five books of essays (about which more later), the chief compiler of the Plena Ilustrita Vortaro and the Grand Dictionnaire Esperanto-Français, editor for seven years of the Nica Literatura Revuo ("Literary Review of Nice"), and a former president of the Academy of Esperanto. While Waringhien never claimed to be a great poet, his alter ego, "the Panamanian poet George Maura," has received much critical acclaim over the years. In his spare time he has been a collaborator in the Grand Larousse Encyclopedique, a professor of literature both in French schools and at the British Institute in Paris, a military officer specializing in codes, and the translator into French of Will Durant's The Age of Faith, which is about a zillion pages long and contains only small print. His only vacation has apparently been five years spent in a German POW camp during World War II.
Kalocsay and Waringhien's lifelong friendship and collaboration was largely carried out through the mail; as far as I can tell, the two men met personally only four times in the almost fifty years of their acquaintance. Nevertheless, the friendship was a fruitful one. It produced, among other things, two of the most influential monographs in the Esperanto literary canon, and two of the most important collections of translated poetry.
At the time they began correspondence Waringhien was writing a study of Esperanto poetry, and Kalocsay was doing much the same thing -- in verse! They put their efforts together, along with a vocabulary of Esperanto poetic language, and published the result as the Parnasa Gvidlibro ("Guidebook to Parnassus"), a complete description of the theory and practice of poetry in Esperanto, which was gone through three editions.
Kalocsay had quietly used a number of Zamenhof's neologisms (and a few of his own) in his works, and in Literatura Mondo; but now, with their collection in one single place, the storm hit. The Word Wars broke out in full force, with the conservative old-guard screaming "Ido!" and the neologists taking up ranks behind the battlements.
William Auld has discussed the battle in some detail in his article on the development of poetic language in Esperanto.(17) Let me simply mention one facet of it: the mal- words.(18)
Poets in particular have for many years decried the use of mal- for creating antonyms. Now a whole collection of synonymous roots for the most common mal- words was made available. The conservatives cried that this was destroying the simplicity of the language; the neologists responded that poets and writers needed a special vocabulary to give their work more force. Neither, of course, could convince the other. The new mal-less synonyms went on to enter poems and the dictionary, but rarely if ever appeared anywhere else. Nevertheless, they have been a point of contention for decades now. And it was all triggered off by the otherwise innocent Parnasa Gvidlibro of Kalocsay and Waringhien.(19)
Waringhien was also impressed by Kalocsay's theories about the grammatical character of Esperanto roots and their use in the Esperanto word-formation system, which Kalocsay had developed from the prewar work of René de Saussure. De Saussure, brother of the well-known Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure and a member of the Lingva Komitato, had attempted to organize a theory of Esperanto word-formation in order to combat the wild claims of the Idists about the "inappropriateness" of Esperanto's system. Around Kalocsay's extension of de Saussure's system, Kalocsay and Waringhien set out to create a work completely describing Esperanto grammar -- phonology, morphology, syntax and word-formation. The result, in the early '30's, was the Plena Gramatiko de Esperanto ("Complete Grammar of Esperanto") -- a massive tome somewhat outweighing Zamenhof's original 16 rules, and guaranteed to once again arouse the wrath of the old guard. Raymond Schwartz, the master of the Esperanto pun, promptly christened the book, because of its size, the "kilogramatiko."(20)
The other two major collaborations between Waringhien and Kalocsay were poetic works which I shall mention in a few pages.
I could quote poets at you for some time, but there just isn't space here; if you want more, learn Esperanto and read Auld, Kralj, Boulton, or any of several other works on the same subject. I could also quote authors of prose, but again they are just too many. I do, however, want to talk about two well-known interbellum authors: Jean Forge and Raymond Schwartz. Understand that this selection is based on personal taste. William Auld considers Eugene Mih^alski of the USSR the most talented poet of the period; if you want to know more about the work of this excellent poet and linguistic experimenter, read Auld's book or his essay on Mih^alski (in, I believe, Pri Lingvo kaj Aliaj Artoj ["On Language and Other Arts"], Antwerp: Stafeto, 1978). Auld also considers one of the most important interbellum prose works to be Vladimir Varankin's Metropoliteno ("The Underground"), a novel by a Soviet author about the construction of the Berlin metro, which is also available today in English translation.
Jean Forge was originally Jan Fethke, one of several Polish brothers who became involved with Esperanto before the beginning of the First World War. After the war, while brother Edmund was helping to start the German Esperanto magazine Heroldo de Esperanto, which today remains one of the most popular Esperanto magazines, the pseudonymous Jean, breaking into the movie world at Fritz Lang's UFA, was moonlighting as an author of Esperanto novels. Between the wars he wrote Abismoj ("Abysses"), a psychologically oriented love story; Saltego trans Jarmiloj ("Leap Across Millenia"), an early science-fiction time travel novel; and Mr. Tot Ac^etas Mil Okulojn ("Mr. Tot Buys a Thousand Eyes"). About the latter novel, Auld writes:
"[It] is thematically even more ambitious, and in truth remains currently enjoyable, despite the fact that its main subject -- TV cameras that a millionaire installs in all the rooms of a luxury hotel (for him to see, not to amuse the clients) -- is no longer so fantastic. The novel reads like a sketch for a film, and is very lively and amusing."That it "reads like a sketch for a film" seems only fair. Several months ago I taped, from the Classic Movie Channel, Fritz Lang's last (1960) film: The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse. Lang gives at least some credit where credit is due: "Based on an idea suggested by Jan Fethge [sic]." This is the only case I know of a film based on a novel or story written originally in Esperanto, although it would also be interesting to know whether the "James Fethke" who developed the idea for the very good early-60's East European S-F film First Spaceship on Venus was indeed Jean Forge.(21)
In passing, I should mention something about Esperanto in the film industry. Esperanto has been used several times as background in films (e.g., in the Clark Gable - Norma Shearer version of Idiots' Delight and in Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator), and there have been two feature films done completely in Esperanto: an amateur detective film called Angoroj ("Agonies"), produced in France by Atelier Mahé (Jean-Jacques Mahé, better known to Esperantists as the author and humorist Lorjak) and memorable mainly for casting banker, poet and punster Raymond Schwartz as a fat French flic; and a professional (?) Hollywood film, Inkubo ("Incubus"), which starred William Shatner (yes, Captain James T. Kirk!) and was so bad that it's not even grist for the annual Golden Turkey Awards. In 1987 for the first time two Eastern European films were dubbed into Esperanto, apparently for VCR distribution through the heartland: Geza Radvanyi's En Eu^ropo Ie ("Somewhere in Europe"), supposed to be quite good, and Juliusz Machulski's science-fictional Seksmisio ("Sex-Mission"), about which Dr. John C. Wells comments: "Quite successful in Poland, [it] suffered from the translation technique (one male voice read all the roles, even the seminude women); but opinions also differed about the content. One viewer later commented: 'An amusing bit of stupidity -- though not very amusing.'" (esperanto, Sep. 1987, p. 159). The Jugoslavian horror film Déja Vu, which includes some Esperanto dialogue, was proposed for a 1988 Academy Award for best foreign film.
Jean Forge wrote no more novels after the war; however he did produce two books of light short stories and essays: La Verda Raketo ("The Green Rocket") and Mia Verda Breviero ("My Green Breviary") in the 1960's. The stories and essays mainly had to do with the more amusing aspects of Esperanto culture. La Verda Raketo in particular is fun reading, especially for the new Esperantist.
Raymond Schwartz was an Alsatian banker who is best known for discovering the Esperanto pun. He was one of the instigators of the "Green Cat," a Parisian Esperanto cabaret, in the mid-twenties, and published many of the chansons and jokes he wrote for that cabaret in the book Verdkata Testamento ("Testament of the Green Cat"). His productive life spanned almost half a century, without a noticeable halt; in the fifties and sixties he had a regular column in several different magazines, El Mia ... Ridpunkto (a pun on "From My ... Viewpoint") devoted mainly to puns built around current affairs; and in the early sixties he published what must be one of the longest, and certainly one of the most critically acclaimed, Esperanto novels, Kiel Akvo de l' Rivero ("Like Water from the River").
We have talked about Europeans, East and West. Truth, Auld and Kralj give short shrift to non-European authors of the period. Kralj at least mentions a (very) few of them in passing.
One of them belonged, at least peripherally, to the "Budapest School." This was a Professor Xu of Shanghai, who published under the Westernized name Saint-Jules Zee. S.-J. Zee's original poetry was published in LM's second collection of original authors, Nau^ Poetoj ("Nine Poets") (1938). Zee later became better known, in the "New China," as a translator into Esperanto of Chinese literature, most notably many of the stories included in the Noveloj de Lusin ("Short Stories of Lu Xün"). Over the years he managed to collect and translate many Chinese poems, both old and new, and after the "Cultural Revolution" subsided he issued a limited samizdat-style edition of these. They were so popular that in 1980 the Chinese Esperanto League published them, along with an essay of Zee's on Chinese poetry, as the book El C^ina Poezio ("From Chinese Poetry"), an excellent introduction for the Westerner to an alien and yet understandable multi-millenial poetic tradition.
A Japanese author, Saburo Ito, published in 1932 a book called Verda Parnaso ("Green Parnassus"), which Kralj considers important enough to mention but not important enough for more detail. Some of Ito's poetry was collected by Auld in the Esperanta Antologio.
After listing a number of minor authors of the thirties, Kralj on page 150 of his book writes laconically:
"To finish the list of this column of prose from the 30's let me mention a Chinese author, Cicio Mar, whose work Forgesitaj Homoj ("Forgotten People") appeared in 1937.""Cicio Mar" may not sound like a Chinese name, because it isn't; it was the pseudonym of Yeh Jun-jian, a long-time Chinese Esperantist. He wrote his first published work in Esperanto, but more recently he is better known for works written in other languages; he has written a number of works in Chinese, and is one of the very few Chinese authors to write originally in English. His novel Mountain Village was a main selection of a major British book club; an Esperanto translation is also available. For many years he was the editor of the magazine Chinese Literature, published by the Chinese government in English and French. I have on my bookshelf Sidney Shapiro's three-volume English translation of the classic Outlaws of the Marsh; in the preface, Shapiro specifically acknowledges the help received from Yeh Jun-jian in the translation.
Another famous Chinese author linked with Esperanto literature is Ba Kin, who learned Esperanto as a young man and translated several Eastern European works from Esperanto into Chinese, including Baghy's Printempo en Au^tuno ("Springtime in Autumn"). One of Ba Kin's early Chinese novels, written at about the same period, in which Ba Kin treated the problem of love and arranged marriage, was titled Au^tuno en Printempo ("Autumn in Springtime") thanks to the inspiration of Baghy's novel. An Esperanto translation of the latter work was published in 1980. A second novel of Ba's, the longer and better-known Frosta Nokto (│Cold Night▓), appeared in translation in 1990. Ba, who has won several major international literary awards and is President of the Chinese PEN Club, is today a member of UEA's Honorary Patrons' Committee.(22)
I should probably also mention Radio Beijing's Xie Yuming ("Seimin"), whose translation of Guo Moruo's play Bronza Tigro ("Bronze Tiger") is eminently worth reading, and whose translation of the long Chinese classical novel La Rug^a Buduaro ("The Dream of the Red Chamber") is rumored to be awaiting publication in China.
Teru Hasegawa, whom I've already mentioned several times, also belongs to this period. She wrote essays and such for several Esperanto magazines in Japan while she was still a girl, but -- in my opinion -- none of them were very good or memorable. It was only after her marriage to Liu Ren and her move to Shanghai that, writing what she saw and felt, she produced truly memorable prose; and even then, when she reverted to what appears to be pure propaganda, as in Flustr' el Uragan' ("A Whisper from the Storm"), her abilities failed her. But in my opinion En C^inio Batalanta is a minor masterpiece, and deserves to be read by every Esperantist. Since her death, Teru has become something of a cult figure among Esperantists. The first joint Chinese-Japanese made-for-TV motion picture, Homesick Star, was a film of her life.
Kalocsay's attempt to revive the pre-World War II literary tradition with a new series of Literatura Mondo was doomed, largely by political events, to failure; the Great Silence was falling over Eastern Europe, not to lift for almost a decade.
In the early 1950's a Spanish essayist and professor of literature, Juan Régulo Perez, decided that Peter Peneter's Sekretaj Sonetoj really deserved reprinting, and to this end he set himself up to publish it. Someone suggested to him that it might be better to publish an original collection of poetry, and made available to him such a collection, consisting of the works of four British authors, one of them a veteran of Literatura Mondo and the other three total newcomers. In spite of the fact that "poetry doesn't sell," Régulo printed a thousand copies of this Kvaropo ("Quartet") and managed to sell every copy within a very short time.
Régulo decided to carry on the tradition of the Budapest School himself. He gave his publishing house the name Stafeto, and selected as his motif a stylized outline of a woman runner passing a torch to a male counterpart; his motto was Kunhelpu pluporti la torc^on ("Help carry on the torch"), an obvious reference to the defunct Literatura Mondo.
His publishing rhythm was slow at first; Kvaropo appeared in 1952, and his second work, Tomas Pumpr's outstanding translation of Karel Havlicek Borovsky's La Bapto de Caro Vladimir ("The Baptism of Tsar Vladimir"), only a year or so later. But then things speeded up, and by the end of the decade Régulo had published at least a dozen works, most of which would become classics. That dozen books was the cream of Esperanto literature for an entire decade!
Kvaropo, besides bringing back Literatura Mondo's Reto Rossetti, introduced William Auld, John Francis, and John Sharp Dinwoodie as forces to be reckoned with in the Esperanto literary world. Auld would go on to become a successor to Zamenhof and Kalocsay, first as a producer of original poetry, then as a translator and literary editor. Francis was to become the sort of person about whom people grieve because his output -- which consists almost entirely of masterpieces -- is so sparse. More than a third of a century have given us from Francis only Vitralo ("Stained-Glass Window"), a collection of short stories ... La Granda Kaldrono ("The Great Cauldron"), a major social novel about life in 30's Glasgow ... Misio Sen Alveno ("Mission With No Arrival"), a science-fiction novel ... a translation of Shakespeare's Richard III ... and a scattering of uncollected poetry, both original and translated.
La Bapto de Caro Vladimir is one of those books that prove that people generally know very little about cultures other than their own. From Czechoslovakia we have translations of a few works by authors such as Karel Capek, but who outside that country has ever heard of Borovsky? And yet in Czechoslovakia every schoolboy can recite large blocks of this (terribly irreverent) work by heart.
After a light-weight third volume, a collection of short stories by Reto Rossetti, El la Maniko ("Out of the Sleeve"), Régulo introduced yet another new British author, this time a woman: Marjorie Boulton, with a massive collection of poetry Kontralte ("In Contralto"). This lady, rumored to be rather shy and retiring, was to become a major force in Esperanto poetry. I might add that she was, Robert Graves' opinions about the proper function of the woman in poetry notwithstanding, only the latest in a long line of women poets in the Esperanto world, a line that started with Marie Hankel and today includes Krys Ungar and Meva Maron, among others.
After Boulton's book, Régulo -- perhaps somewhat hesitantly -- offered a collection of essays by our polymath Gaston Waringhien, Eseoj I ("Essays I"). Waringhien proved that the essay as an art form was neither dead nor dying; the book was snatched up, and in the end it had four sequels, all of them popular. This first volume, like the fifth more than two decades later, concentrated on literary subjects; the second and fourth contained only essays that treated of Esperanto; and the material in the third was aimed at religious topics.
On my bookshelf, next to Eseoj I, I see a thin grey volume: William Auld's La Infana Raso ("The Child Race"). Some critics maintain that this epic poem, almost a hundred pages long, is Esperanto's chef d'oeuvre to date. It may well be. So far it has gone through three editions. Various Esperantists with more ambition than good sense have tried to translate it into various national languages, but the general complaint is that languages such as English are simply not versatile enough to handle the concepts, word patterns and turns of phrase that Auld throws off.
And there, next to La Infana Raso, is the first of Kalocsay and Waringhien's joint poetic translations: La Floroj de l' Malbono ("The Flowers of Evil") by Charles Baudelaire. At the time it was published, this was probably the most complete collection available in any language of the poetry of one of the greatest French poets of the 19th century. Later on, Stafeto also published Kalocsay and Waringhien's second major literary collaboration: the massive Kantoj kaj Romancoj ("Songs and Romances") of Heinrich Heine, a German-Jewish poet of the 19th century who has long been a favorite of Esperantist translators, starting, you may remember, with Zamenhof in the "First Book."
After J.D. Applebaum's play Jozefo ("Joseph" -- the Biblical character) sits, in garish orange paper cover, the first edition of William Auld's major editorial opus: the first edition of the Esperanta Antologio ("Esperanto Anthology"), a compendium of over 300 poetic works from the first 70 years of Esperanto. I remember when I first got that book, and how much time I spent poring over it, discovering a whole new world. I was more than happy, a quarter of a century later, when its second edition, almost twice as massive, appeared in 1983.
In all, from the period 1952 to 1974, Stafeto must have published more than a hundred books, many of them in a series of small-format editions known as Beletraj Kajeroj ("Notebooks Belles-Lettres"), which contained a few translations and much high-quality original literature. In the late 60's Régulo even realized his old dream, and republished the Sekretaj Sonetoj -- joined with much newer material, some of it written by the son of Peter Peneter, Georgo Peterido Peneter (Waringhien). The book appeared under the title Libro de Amo ("Book of Love").
Two literary developments of the sixties are also worth mentioning. First was the appearance of a new generation of national anthologies. A number of these had appeared during the period between the two world wars -- for example, a Swiss anthology, a Belgian anthology (two volumes, one for French-language authors and one for Flemish authors), a Catalán anthology, a Czechoslovak anthology, a Hungarian anthology, and others -- and some minor anthologies had appeared after the Second World War. The first major postwar anthology was the Angla Antologio ("English Anthology") 1066-1800, containing material provided by a half dozen British translators. A second volume in the series, covering the period from 1800 to 1950, was finally published in the late 1980's. The projected third volume, a collection of Scottish literature, may have formed the basis for the Skota Antologio ("Scottish Anthology") that was published by Albert Goodheir's publishing house Kardo ("Thistle" -- named after Scotland's national flower) in the 1970's.(22)
At about the same time the Chinese brought out their C^ina Antologio ("Chinese Anthology") 1949-1959. This work was as thick as the 734-year English volume, but this may not indicate anything about the raw amount of Chinese literature available; the book seems to contain material largely selected for its political rectitude, and is nowhere near as interesting as others in the "series." You may remember(26) that the Chinese government at that time was making heavy use of Esperanto to justify its existence and behavior to the rest of the world. More recently Zee's El C^ina Poezio, which should be considered a part of the canon, and a new C^ina Antologio 1919-1949 (1986) and C^ina Antologio 1949-1979 (1990) have gone far to restore balance to Chinese literature in Esperanto.
Other additions over the last two decades have included a Dana Antologio ("Danish Anthology"), a Slovaka Antologio ("Slovak Anthology"), a Germana Antologio ("German Anthology"), an Itala Antologio ("Italian Anthology"), a Nederlanda Antologio ("Dutch Anthology"), an Antologio de Maltaj Poetoj ("Anthology of Maltese Poets"), and a Makedona Antologio ("Macedonian Anthology") among others; an Au^stralia Antologio ("Australian Anthology") appeared in 1989, the 200th anniversary of the First Fleet. The two volumes Moderna Kroatia Prozo ("Modern Croatian Prose") and Kroatia Poezio ("Croatian Poetry") jointly make up an anthology, as does the massive four-volume Tra la Parko de la Franca Poezio ("Through the Park of French Poetry"), in translation by the indefatigable Waringhien. A Usona Antologio (U. S. Anthology) remains to be planned.
At the beginning of the 1960's, casting about for some way to justify its status of Consultant to UNESCO, UEA decided to sponsor a series of Esperanto translations as part of UNESCO's ballyhooed "East-West: Toward Mutual Understanding" program. UNESCO at that time had figures that showed that literary exchanges flowed along a few very well-defined paths; for instance, most translations occurred into and out of English and French. This means that Japanese and Chinese, for instance, are very well acquainted with American, British and French literature, and Americans, British and Frenchpersons could be just as familiar with Japanese and Chinese literature, if they cared to be (most Americans, at least, don't); but Japanese and Chinese on the one hand and Hungarians and Czechs on the other will probably remain completely ignorant with respect to each other. It's an interesting fact that much of what is known in Asia about Eastern European literature has come through the medium of Esperanto. The ostensible purpose of the East-West program was to ameliorate this mutual ignorance between most nations. Whether it ever had any success in this, I don't know. The series Oriento-Okcidento ("East-West") was intended to help balance this imbalance.
During the succeeding quarter century, books in the series appeared at one-year intervals, and today there are about thirty of them, plus two "extraordinary" volumes. One of these, the very first book published in the series, was Dante's entire Divine Comedy, in translation by Giovanni Peterlongo -- a huge, luxuriously appointed, and very expensive book, with numerous engravings by Sandor Botticelli. The translation, although good, is not up to Kalocsay's, and it seems a pity that the latter fagged out after The Inferno.
The series has, over the years, been generally good but somewhat uneven, both in its selection of materials and in their quality. Surprisingly enough, the most represented country has been Japan, with five or six books; less surprisingly, the most represented author is Shakespeare, with two: Kalocsay's translation of King Lear and Auld's translations of the Sonnets. I know of at least two books that, in my opinion, should not have been included in the series (Reinhard Haupenthal's linguistically outré translation of Goethe's La Suferoj de la juna Werther ["The Sorrows of the Young Werther"] and Italo Chiussi's non-literary biography of Mohammed Je la Flanko de la Profeto ["At the Prophet's Side"]) (23); and other critics have named a dozen or more that should have been included but were not, for example the Noveloj de Lusin. Nevertheless, it was a good idea at the time, and remains so today; if the rest of UNESCO's program had been as successful, we would already understand each other throughout the world.
By the early seventies the enthusiasm, or perhaps the resources, of Juan Régulo Perez appeared to have waned slightly; he decided to take on a partner in his work. Torben Kehlet, a young and affable Dane living in Belgium, wanted to get into the publishing business. So he took over much of Régulo's work and the name Stafeto, which effectively moved from the Canary Islands to Belgium. The subsequent output of the printing house has been at best uneven, its quality generally lower than that under Régulo's leadership. In the late eighties the name Stafeto was taken over by the Flemish Esperanto League, and today it seems to be most commonly associated with original crime novels rather than with works of purely literary interest.
Perhaps only one great Esperanto literary figure -- a Zamenhof, a Kalocsay, an Auld -- is destined to come along in each generation; and Auld is still with us. Other Esperanto authors today display the necessary talent, but none displays the sheer ambition and energy that have characterized these three men.
I must, however, mention a fourth major figure, more or less contemporary with Auld. This was the Japanese Esperantist author Miyamoto Masao. Miyamoto was one of the most prolific Esperantist authors, with respect to both original and translated literature, and yet he has largely been overlooked by the historians of Esperanto literature; Kralj mentions him only in passing (mistakenly inverting his name in Western fashion), Auld not at all, and none of Benczik's collected essays refers to him, even though Benczik's book was published in Japan.
Miyamoto became an Esperantist in the 1930's and was active in the left-wing Esperanto political organizations of that country at the time. He spent two years in a Japanese prison for his politics and later, after having been conscripted into the army during the war, spent time as a P.O.W. after the capture of Okinawa -- a period described in his autobiographical novel Naskita sur la ruinoj: Okinavo ("Born in the Ruins: Okinawa"). In the 1950's he resigned from the Japanese Communist Party, apparently because, dominated by the U.S.S.R., it was not radical enough for him, and devoted himself to Esperanto literature. He was editor of several Esperanto literary magazines (Prometeo, L'Omnibuso) and contributed to a number of others, most recently Preludo. He was the guiding force behind the Hajkista Klubo (Haiku Club) during the years of its heyday.
It would be useless to list all his works here. Let me mention three that particularly impressed me. One of them was the second verse of his award-winning poem La rememoro jam fora ("The already distant memory"). Though I promised earlier not to quote more poetry, let me just give you these five lines:
Sur blanka duno On a white dune sub la printempa suno Beneath a springtime sun min logis reve I dreamily was drawn Lob-nor kaj Lou^lan s^vebe. By Lop-nor and Lou-lan. Ho, romantik' de l' juno! Oh, romance of the young!When I was a teen-ager, I had a National Geographic map of southwestern Asia taped to the wall next to my bed, and the first thing I usually saw when I awoke in the morning was the three-dot mark that indicated the ruins of the ancient city of Lou-lan. Apparently Miyamoto felt the same attraction to that ancient, little known city in the Takla-Makan Desert, because he devoted much time to a translation of Inoue Yasushi's short novels Lou-lan and Foreigner, which both take place in Lou-lan and the "Western Region" back around the beginning of the Christian Era; that translation apparently inspired the above lines, and also appeared as the book Lou^-lan kaj fremdregionano in the early 1980's, as part of the East-West series. Both poem and book impressed me deeply.
A third short work that I really enjoyed was his translation of Kinoshita Zyunzi's short play Vespera gruo ("Evening Crane"). This is a stage version of the old Japanese fable about the man whose wife can provide him with love or -- through a second, unknown identity -- money, but not both; if he is too greedy, or too curious, he will lose her. Interestingly, I've also run across two other variants of the same story in my Esperanto library, one by Kita Satori (who did the illustrations for the Miyamoto translation) and one in a collection of Malnovaj rakontoj el U^╦akajama ("Old Stories from Wakayama").
I would also like to mention the Hungarian novelist István Nemere. For an Esperantist, Nemere is a most unusual creature: he is a professional author in his own language, belonging to that school of writers who receive a double "thumbs down" from the literary critics and cries about it all the way to the bank; and he also writes in Esperanto. Since about 1980 he has produced one or two original novels every year.(24) These works are generally about topical rather than eternal problems, and are very good reading indeed. Several of them are worth a description here.
In Nemere's Sur Kampo Granita ("On a Granite Field"), a high official of the International Red Cross is suddenly confronted with a past in which, as a young German lieutenant, he ordered the execution of an Italian family. The plot was based on an actual situation that has occurred more than once since the war -- Nemere's model was a Catholic priest -- but today we might consider it uncannily prescient of the Waldheim affair. La Blinda Birdo ("The Blind Bird") follows a young Scandinavian liberal trying to free a friend of his, a black author, from a South African prison -- and discovering that in some situations good will isn't quite enough. La Alta Akvo ("High Water") is an environmentalist book, with a plot built around the construction of a new reservoir -- a situation with which we Californians are quite conversant. Febro ("Fever") might best be described as "a novel of revenge"; a woman involved in an adulterous affair with an engineer is murdered by her estranged husband, and the engineer sets out to ensure justice.
Incidentally, the novel as an art form in Esperanto has come almost full circle from Dr. Vallienne's time. In Auld's study of the Esperanto novel Vereco Distro Stilo ("Truth Recreation Style"), published in the early 1980's, he lists about fifty books that he categorizes as novels which appeared in Esperanto during its first ninety years -- an unconscionably small number. That number has been increased by at least fifty percent during the past decade, and although some of these works are "literary" in nature -- for example, Spomenka S^timec's autobiographical Ombro sur Interna Pejzag^o ("Shadow on an Inner Landscape") -- most of the more recent ones are light reading, often crime novels or detective stories. Three very different examples of these latter are the pseudonymous Johán Valano's psychological thriller C^u Vi Kuiras C^ine? ("Do You Cook Chinese?") and its several sequels, the even more pseudonymous Dek Dorval's classical detective novel Jah^to Veturas For ... kaj Veturigas la Morton ("The Yacht Sails Away ... and Takes Death With it") and its three sequels, and Karolo Pic^'s Gothic detective novel La Mortsonorilo de Chamblay ("The Death Bell of Chamblay").(25)
One problem in the postwar period has been a lack of a common center -- especially a common literary review -- around which literary figures might gather. Before World War I La Revuo played such a role; between the wars, it was Literatura Mondo. Since the war there have been a number of such magazines -- not counting Literatura Mondo's abortive third period, nor such impressive but purely local magazines as Suda Stelo ("Southern Star") in Jugoslavia and L'Omnibuso ("The Omnibus") in Japan; only one of them -- Waringhien's nica literatura revuo -- showed any promise, during its seven-year lifetime, of becoming a match for its predecessors, although several other magazines, most notably Ferenc Szilagyi's Norda Prismo and UEA's Monda Kulturo, were also valuable.
There are today two major Esperanto literary magazines that do show promise of becoming just such centers. The first, Literatura Foiro, is published in Switzerland by the Literatura Foiro Cooperative; it is closely associated with a sub-sub-culture of the Esperanto sub-culture, the Raumists.(29) The second, Fonto, is privately issued by a publishing center in Chapecó, Brazil; it seems to be somewhat more popular, if only for its more affordable price. In recent years several Asian literary magazines have made appearances, often cut short because of the difficulty of getting circulation in the West; these include the very good Japanese magazine, Preludo; Esperanta Literaturo, one number of which was published by the Huazhong University of Science and Technology; and, most recently, Shi Chengtai's Penseo, which has gone through many numbers so far.
I have not yet mentioned the Word Wars in the context of postwar Esperanto literature. They were held largely in abeyance for about thirty years, perhaps because those who would otherwise have been fighting them were involved in the Great Participial War, which I may describe someday in a work of fantasy; then, in the late l970's, Claude Piron brought them back to life with a short and relatively innocuous article in the magazine Esperanto about "The European Dialect of Esperanto," a complaint about the growing number of West European neologisms that could have been avoided by using conjoined words. Piron, a former translator for the World Health Organization, offered a sample of a paragraph written in a fictitious "Chinese dialect of Esperanto," using neologisms borrowed from Chinese, to give his European readers some idea of what non-European Esperantists have to face when confronted with a flood of new Romance-based neologisms.
This aroused the ire of Fernando de Diego, well-known translator from the Spanish, whose works include, among others, Pio Baroja's La Arbo de la Sciado ("The Tree of Knowledge"), Federico García Lorca's Cigana Romancaro ("Gypsy Romances"), Cervantes' Don Quixote, and José Camillo Cela's La Familio de Pascual Duarte ("Pascual Duarte's Family"). De Diego's writing style indicates that he believes that Esperanto's fundamental problem is that it isn't more like Spanish. He immediately took issue with Piron.
Over the succeeding decade the battle lines have once again become well drawn, with such luminaries as de Diego and Reinhard Haupenthal on one side and Piron and Auld on the other. A third side leaped into the fray in the early eighties when Czech author Karolo Pic^ published his frankly experimental novel La Litomis^la Tombejo ("The Graveyard at Litomyshl"), and was closely followed by a group of Czech Esperantist literateurs, the so-called Prague Literary School. The end result of all this will, of course, be a certain degree of enrichment of Esperanto's vocabulary -- hopefully without drowning the language in unnecessary new roots.
Incidentally, this chapter would not be complete without mentioning the tradition of literary contests in Esperanto-land. In such contests -- which, being global in nature, are usually conducted by mail -- participants send in poems, short stories, playlets, either original or translated; a jury of competent literary individuals selects the winners -- or, occasionally, refuses to select a winner -- a traditional "out" in Esperanto-land. The first of these were the "International Flower Games" in Catalonia, based on a medieval tradition and instituted in the first decade of this century; they were popular before the first world war, but by the late 1930's, with the Spanish Civil War and the accession of the Falangist regime, they had totally disappeared. Since Franco's death and the restoration of a federal system to Spain under King Juan Carlos, the Flower Games have also returned in force, and today occur annually, under the aegis of the Catalonian Esperanto Federation.
Since World War II, UEA has also held its own literary contest, the Belartaj Konkursoj ("Beaux Arts Contests"), within the context of the annual World Esperanto Congress. Originally this contest included both original and translated material, but UEA finally judged itself incompetent to rule upon translated material which might potentially be from a thousand different languages, and restricted the contest to original works. The contest usually treats only shorter works -- poems, short stories, essays, playlets -- but occasionally longer works are accepted for special contests. These latter have included contests for best children's book, best original song, etc. In 1986 there was even a contest for "Best Original Works Having To Do With Peace."
The non-Esperantist and the neophyte Esperantist may well ask at this point: "But what's the use of it all? Why do Esperantists dedicate so much time, money and effort to such an essentially non-productive pastime as literature when they could be more effectively devoting it to the promulgation of Esperanto?" Even some Esperantists -- those described by Peter Forster as "norm-oriented" (27) -- often raise this question.
The obvious answer, of course, is the one Rakitski suggested in the quotation with which I begin this chapter: only an original work can prove to the world that our language is something really alive. Pace Rakitski, I also believe that it is the wrong answer. Personally, I doubt whether there has been a major literary work in Esperanto since Zamenhof's translation of Charles Dickens' La Batalo de l' Vivo which was produced for the express purpose of convincing outside critics.
Marjorie Boulton, answering a letter from a British critic of Esperanto, alluded to the correct answer. The critic had admitted, reluctantly, that "there may be some creative writing in Esperanto." Dr. Boulton's response was: "There may be some leaves on my pear tree, too. I know there are because I can see them." And why, you should ask, are there leaves on a pear tree? Because it is the nature of pear trees to grow leaves.
It is the nature of languages to produce literatures. In this, Esperanto is no different from any other language.
What of all those languages, the newcomer will ask, that are not literary languages? In actual fact, all languages are literary languages in the wider sense of the word; it is merely that most of the world's cultures, being historically non-literate, have an oral rather than written literary tradition. Regrettably, such literatures are often ephemeral; for instance, we have only a few fragments and oblique references to suggest to us the widespread and powerful oral literature of Bronze Age and Iron Age Celtic Europe. But even today I do not know of one language without its songs, its chants, its spoken verse.(28)
Yet several questions remain to be answered. Maybe Esperanto, like other languages, does tend to produce literature; but why should any individual devote his personal time and effort, perhaps his entire lifespan (as in the case of Zamenhof, Kalocsay and Auld), to this endeavor?
I've heard two possible answers. The first is that many of those who learn the language fall in love with it and want to use it for their literary output, rather than their own native tongues. We all know of love affairs between writers and their native tongues; James Joyce and George Orwell, for example, were both in love with the English language. Less well-known, because far less common, are such love affairs between writers and tongues they have acquired; but most of us can think of at least a few examples such as Joseph Conrad and, more recently, Salman Rushdie. It is hardly surprising, given Esperanto's combination of facility and versatility, that it has attracted a large number of persons who love to use it for their literary productions.
The second possible answer is that Esperantists want to reach a wider audience than they can through their own native languages. For members of some linguistic groups, Esperanto is in fact spoken by more people -- sometimes far more people -- than they could reach through their own languages; for others, this is not true, but there is also the fact that Esperanto speakers are found everywhere, whereas a language spoken by fifty to a hundred times as many people -- for example, Japanese or Bengali -- may be known by very few people outside its homeland.
Personally, I suspect that both answers are correct, in varying proportions, for everybody who writes in Esperanto. I have read that Marjorie Boulton cut short a promising career as poet and critic in English after falling in love with Esperanto; and Humphrey Tonkin somewhere mentions that Baldur Ragnarsson's major reason for writing in Esperanto was to reach a wider audience than was possible through his native Icelandic. However, Ragnarsson's poetry certainly shows at least a modicum of love for the language -- Ragnarsson has also been active in the Esperanto movement -- and although certain of Boulton's English-language books are used at universities throughout the British Commonwealth, the poems of Kontralte and the plays of Virino c^e la Landlimo ("Woman at the Border") are certainly far more widely read, at least geographically.
Given that the production of original literature stems from certain personal preferences, why would anybody bother translating into Esperanto? And what use do such translations serve?
There are two good reasons for translating into Esperanto. The first has to do with capabilities, both of the translator and of the language. The original author is fairly free to pick and choose his modes of expression; when faced with a hard choice in the selection of a word, a metaphor, a construction, he need only take the easier route. The translator, on the other hand, is largely constrained by the original. In many cases, he is forced to "push the envelope" of his own linguistic talents and the built-in potentialities of Esperanto. It is this challenge that attracts many translators.
The other reason has to do with the very reason for existence of Esperanto. Esperanto exists to make it possible for people from one language background, one culture,(30) to communicate with those from another for the purpose of understanding them. And the literature of an alien culture is one of the best ways of understanding it. Literature translated into Esperanto makes this understanding possible.
Let me give some examples. Selma Lagerlöf's Gösta Berling, from Sweden, shows us that it is possible for a people to live full and eventful lives on the spatial and temporal interface between faith and knowledge.(31) Ivan Vazov's Under the Yoke, from Bulgaria, shows that even in the most distant parts of the world there are things worth fighting for, and people willing to fight for them.(32) I firmly believe that no American, conditioned to see world events in terms of "freedom" versus "Communist tyranny," can fully understand or appreciate the triumph and the tragedy of Budapest in 1956 if he has not read the stirring sixth verse of Sandor Petöfi's "Europe Is Silent," written more than a hundred years earlier:
Rigardu nin, Liber', agnosku Look upon us, Freedom, recognize en ni popolon vian veran: in us your true people: l' aliaj ec^ ne riskas larmojn, the others risk not even tears, kaj sangon donas ni oferan!(33) and we give our blood in sacrifice!And who, walking with Lin Daojing through the hills above the seaside resort town of Beidaihe, can be confronted with that walled foreign villa and, beneath the Stars and Stripes waving in the wind, that odious sign:
without feeling the rage and leaden depression that gripped her heart and helped nudge China out of the Western camp in the late forties?(34)
In describing the values of translated literature in Esperanto, Marjorie Boulton says:
"Esperanto democratizes culture without abandoning criteria: people who will never have the time or the chance to learn several large cultural languages can, through Esperanto, get to know the wide perspectives of the world's culture. I am still touched when I remember a friend of mine, a Portuguese truck driver, who died long before the fall of the right-wing Portuguese dictatorship. He went to school only until he was thirteen, he was miserably poor, and suspicious police once confiscated all the few books that he had, through love and sacrifice, accumulated in his tiny lodgings. He was often hungry. The winter cold tortured him with coughing and other cold-weather sicknesses. How could such a man hope that anything would nourish his intellect, warm his spirit? But he learned Esperanto, although he had to learn it in secret; and I remember how avidly he received, how enthusiastically he discussed in his letters, Esperanto translations from Shakespeare, Baudelaire, Sophocles and others that were sent to him. For such people Esperanto is not just one of their windows on the world; it can be the only window. The more important, then, is the work of the translator, and the more deserving of thanks.(35)Translated literature, from whatever language and into whatever language, helps teach us that love, faith, hope, courage, gallantry, rage at injustice, preference for fair play, the simple desire to be left alone to lead one's life to the fullest, are not the possessions of any single culture or group of cultures, but of all men and women everywhere. It is a lesson that too many of us badly need to learn. Esperanto is the ideal medium through which to learn it.
To close this overly long chapter, I should say a few words about where
Esperanto literature is going. Since none of us can foresee the future,
what I write here consists of opinions only; but it seems to me that there
are certain trends becoming apparent.