Thoughts on new publications of Catalan literature in English

5 replies, 4 voices Last updated by  Mary Ann Newman 5 years, 9 months ago
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    Mary Ann Newman

    In case some members of the LLC Catalan Studies might not be aware of it, a flurry of translations has recently become available. I believe the latest is Private Life, by Josep Maria de Sagarra (Archipelago Books), which I am proud to have translated, but earlier this year Archipelago also published Life Embitters, Peter Bush’s translation of Vida amarga, Josep Pla’s collection of short stories. This book followed Peter’s translation last year of Quadern gris, published by NYRB as Gray Notebook. In a more contemporary vein, Mara Faye Lethem has published The Boys (Els nois), by Toni Sala. Martha Tennent’s translation of Francesc Trabal’s Vals came out last year as Waltz with Dalkey Archive Press. And in very recent years, Open Letter Books has published a number of books by Mercè Rodoreda: Death in Spring, Short Stories, etc., as well as Quim Monzó’s Gasoline (my translation) and A Thousand Morons (by Peter Bush). And Rowan Ricardo Phillips, one of the most fascinating new American poets, translated Ariadna and the Grotesque Labyrinth by Salvador Espriu.

    This is by no means an exhaustive list. I would like to propose two topics of discussion:

    1. How can this current proliferation of major Catalan texts be reflected in course curricula, both as surveys of Catalan literature in English and as components of world literature survey courses, or as supports for cultural studies courses–few books offer a better reflection of social class in Barcelona before the Civil War than Private Life, for example.
    2. Can we–the academic and the para-academic (translators and such) community help to bring these texts not only to our academic community, but beyond? How can we help stimulate English language readers to take an interest in these texts? Could we be blogging, doing reviews in local and on-line magazines? Offering readings in local bookstores?




    Elisa Martí-López

    Gràcies, Mary Ann,

    De moment, el teu e-mail m’ha servit per actualitzar els fons de la biblioteca de NU de textos catalans traduïts.

    Respecte a les preguntes que fas, només puc dir, com a professora, no com a scholar sobre traducció, que no en sóc, que l’existència d’una més extensa varietat de textos traduïts facilita molt la seva incorporació en cursos de diferent temàtica.

    Inclouré uns quants en els meus cursos del trimestre de primavera.








    Aurelie Vialette

    Moltes gràcies, Mary Ann. Estic completament d’accord amb l’Elisa –és una gran cosa tenir notificació de les traduccions de textos catalans. Ensenyo cursos en anglès i sempre tinc problemes per incorporar textos catalans perquè no trobo traducció (en particular textos del segle 19).

    Em sembla que una de les coses que hem de fer és crear una red de publicitat per anunciar totes les traducciones, demanar que les biblioteques actualitzen els seus fons i també crear una presència més important d’aquests textos amb presentacions en lliberíes per un públic que no és acadèmic, per exemple.



    Mary Ann Newman

    Dear Elisa and Aurélie,

    Thanks for responding. I will continue posting in English because this is a topic that could be of interest beyond the Catalan community.

    Is there any way for us to use the Commons to post news of new translations? I will gladly make a pdf of the most recent crop of translations. Perhaps we could also circulate it through the NACS. If the members did as Elisa has done, and acquired the books for their university libraries, they would be doing a double service: putting them in the students’ hands, and also showing the publishers that they have value. This would go a long way toward encouraging them to consider future translations. And, indeed, this is what authors and translators want: for their works to be read.

    As for doing readings and presentations, that is also something professors can help with. If an author or translator or author/translator team were invited to a city or college town, of course he/she/they would gladly also do a reading at a local bookstore. I believe some travel funds could be found from the Institut Ramon Llull. For authors/translators who live abroad, it would probably be useful to coordinate, so as to take advantage of the international flight. This could also be an opportunity for the publishers to encourage local media to review the books in question.

    I believe Toni Sala will be coming to New York in February. Perhaps it would be good to invite him and Mara Faye Lethem to a couple of campuses.

    And, as Edgar Illas suggested, perhaps this would be a good thing to discuss at the next NACS colloquium.

    Mary Ann


    Jennifer Duprey

    Dear Mary Ann:


    I received your translation a week ago. Thank so much for undertaking such a difficult and migthy task! I’m looking forward to read it. I agree with Elisa and Aurelie. As you know I teach Catalan Literature in Translation at Rutgers, and, more often than not, is quite difficult to find translations.



    Mary Ann Newman

    Dear Jennifer,

    Thank you for your message, and for your kind words. I didn’t know you taught Catalan Literature in Translation at Rutgers. That is wonderful news. Well, as  you see, there is a terrific new crop of translations. I hope you can also acquire them for the Rutgers library.

    All the best,

    Mary Ann



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