Talk: 'Writing in Esperanto: Esperanto Literature and the Book Trade'
November 9, 2016
Library, W.E.B. Du Bois
UMass Amherst Campus
Humphrey Tonkin, President Emeritus and University Professor of the Humanities at the University of Hartford and former president of the Universal Esperanto Association, will offer a lecture and a new Special Collection of the UMass Library will be introduced: the Allan C. Boschen Esperanto Collection.
When L.L.Zamenhof created the International Language Esperanto in the late nineteenth century, he saw his language not merely as utilitarian but also as a literary language. He himself wrote poetry in the language, and his followers soon started doing the same. Like his near-contemporary and near-neighbor Eliezer Ben- Yehuda, creator of Modern Hebrew, he built his language around existing linguistic elements and sought to give it a cultural identity. The earliest years of Esperanto were made difficult by censorship and lack of capital, but it was Zamenhof’s contract with the publisher Hachette that allowed him to devote sustained attention to translation. Since then, a succession of small publishing operations – Literatura Mondo in Budapest, EKRELO in Leipzig, the Esperanto Publishing Company in London, FEL in Antwerp, and today Mondial in New York (along with others) – has allowed the literature of Esperanto to grow and prosper. Literally thousands of works have been produced, and literary production continues. This lecture will examine this little-known history and seek to explain its relationship to the Esperanto movement in general.