AC Buzz

A New House of translated works written in Catalan

463_x_biblioteca-acn1(By IRL) Last Tuesday the Bernard Lesfargues Library opens its doors. Housed in the headquarters of the Institut Ramon Llull (Palau del Baró de Quadras), it specializes in translations into other languages of works of literature and thought written in Catalan.

The Library houses the works that the IRL subsidizes, the Institució de les Lletres Catalanes’ old collection of translations, donations by foreign publishing houses and specific purchases. It also houses the publications of the IRL and a collection of materials for teaching Catalan.

The inaugural event, to be held at 6 p.m., wishes to be a tribute to the figure of the translator, and for this reason Bernard Lesfargues, one of the first translators into French of Mercè Rodoreda, Joan Sales and Jaume Cabré, among others, will be present. Also taking part in the event will be the winner of the latest Ramon Llull Prize for Literary Translation, Peter Bush.

Bush was awarded the prize last November in Andorra for his translation of El quadern gris by Josep Pla (The Gray Notebook, New York, The New York Review of Books, 2013). The novel has been published by the New York Review of Books, one of the most prestigious publishing houses on the American scene, which publishes universal classics and is one of the major publishers of emblematic texts in English. In The New York Times’s review of the book, it mentioned the Catalan writer’s great power to use “a style of writing that never grows old”. Bush is also the author of the recently published Uncertain Glory by Joan Sales, considered by The Economist to be one of the ten best novels of 2014.

Consolidating translations

bush-web1The excellent reception in the English-speaking market of classic authors such as Josep Pla or Joan Sales and the success of Marc Pastor and Jaume Cabré confirm the consolidation of Catalan literature on the international market in recent years. Between 2002 and 2014, 962 works of Catalan literature were translated into 44 languages in 48 countries thanks to the support of the Institut Ramon Llull. Among its lines of action is the international promotion of Catalan literature through translation subsidies, presence at book fairs, support for foreign publishing houses, and cooperation with Catalan publishing houses and literary agencies.

Every year 100 or so new titles of translated Catalan literature are published, not counting children’s and young adult literature. To be precise, there were 102 publications in 2012, 127 in 2013 and 112 in 2014. By host languages, Albert Sánchez Piñol (37 languages, La pell freda), Mercè Rodoreda (La plaça del Diamant, 35 languages), Salvador Espriu (24 languages) and Jaume Cabré (Jo confesso, 23 languages) are the most translated authors in Catalan literature.

463_x_uncertain-glory-joan-sales111Spanish has been the principal host language of Catalan literary translations in the last year, followed by English, Italian, Polish and French. Special mention must be made of the fact that the English language is the second language of translation, after Spanish. The figures for 2014 are the culmination of a trend that began in 2012, when Catalan literature entered the commercial circuits of the English-speaking publishing world.

The success of the translations into English in 2014 is confirmed by the great international reception by readers and critics alike. Coming on top of the excellent reception of the above-mentioned translations by Peter Bush is the success in the USA and the UK of Barcelona Shadows [La mala dona] by Marc Pastor, translated by Mara Faye Lethem, which was named as one of the best last year by the British newspaper The Times. In Poland readers and critics have also given the thumbs up to the translation of Jo confesso by Jaume Cabré, while Jardí vora el mar is also earning plaudits in Germany.

463_x_barcelona-shadows1In short, in 2014 the Catalan literary tradition was consolidated as part of the European literary patrimony and this was due chiefly to the translation of leading works of Catalan literature at prestigious international publishing houses. As for 2015, the forecast is for this trend to continue on an upward curve thanks to the publication of classics like Vida privada by Josep Maria de Sagarra in English, or Solitud by Víctor Català in Italian. There is also a new commitment to the promotion abroad of albums or illustrated books, after the IRL announced a new line of support aimed at facilitating the internationalization of children’s and young adult literature for the first time, during 2014.

You can consult all this data at the TRAC www.llull.cat/trac

Source: Institut Ramon Llull

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