Esperanto
Author: David Poulson


What About the Workers? Part 4

Author: David Poulson
Published on: December 18, 1998

For one reason or another many authors - a great many - choose to adopt another identity when they write their books. In doing so they cause major headaches to bibliographers and librarians who are forced to rely heavily on encyclopedic compilations of anonymous and pseudonymous literature which are often inaccurate and always out-of-date and incomplete. Some writers, like the Polish sailor we know as Joseph Conrad, have adopted a name from a different nationality to their own. Quite a number of female writers have even, metaphorically speaking, changed their sex and adopted a man's name instead of their own. Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, Baroness Dudevant, writing under the name of George Sand, and Anne, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, writing under the names of Acton, Ellis and Currer Bell respectively, are four famous examples. Nobody, however, (at least as far as I know) has gone as far as Eugene Adam in creating a new literary person for themselves.

In 1922 Edmond Privat - was the editor of Esperanto, the official journal of La Universal Esperanto Asocio and, acting in all good faith, he published an obituary of Eugene Adam which reads, in part, as follows.

"E. Adam, former editor of the Sennacieca Revuo killed himself in 1921. In his will he wrote these words:

'Be silent about my death. If I have friends they should not mourn but, on the contrary, they should rejoice. Let nobody waste space in a journal on some boring obituary notice. If I were not fully aware of the unimportance of my life, perhaps I would dare to say to my comrades-in-arms: If you do want to remember me in some way let it be only through untiring propaganda for the international language.'"

Privat continued: "In spite of the dead man's wishes we cannot remain silent about his disappearance but must remind ourselves of the fact that he was an expert, open-minded and progressive Esperantist with pragmatic ideas. He energetically managed the interesting Sennacieca Revuo which is now edited by E. Lanti."

Oh dear! One is tempted to say that some people are so open-minded that they don't notice that their brains have fallen out. But it would be a mistake to dismiss this episode as just a stupid joke by Eugene Adam, whom we will now call Lanti. Mark Twain once sent a famous cablegram in which he wrote "The report of my death is an exaggeration." The same could be said of the announcements of the suicide of E. Adam which the "dead man" sent out himself in 1921. And the humour turns decidedly black when we recall that Lanti did indeed kill himself many years later. But during the next few years after this extraordinary announcement, Lanti did attempt to create for himself a new identity, that of a stateless citizen of the world whose first language was no longer French but Esperanto, and as far as was possible to "bury the old Adam." To some extent, the new identity was justified. As a communist and as an Esperantist Lanti would have encountered hostility from the French government. And as time went by and the international labour movement was opposed by the emerging nationalist dictatorships of the Western World, in Portugal, Spain, Italy and Germany, not only Lanti became aware of the great dichotomy which Rudolf Rocker described in a monumental, 600-page work as Nationalism and Culture.

Rocker's book, which was published in an English translation in 1937, was written in German and was to have appeared in Berlin in the autumn of 1933. Of course, the triumph of the Nazis put an end to that project. It is a work of great scholarship, with an enormous bibliography, but one work which is missing from the list of material consulted by Rocker is Lanti's own study of nationalism. This actually was published in Germany, in Leipzig, but in 1930. Its title is: "Naciismo: Studo pri Deveno, Evoluado kaj Sekvoj" - a study of the origin, evolution and consequences of nationalism. It is written in the clear vigorous Esperanto that became the hallmark of Lanti's style and allowed him to express his political views with great clarity. For example:

"Patriotism is now the most powerful ideology: it passionately overrules the spirit and is able to turn peaceful, good-hearted men into warlike and bloodthirsty animals.

"The fifteen million people butchered in the last world war were not enough to satisfy this monster. Nationalism continually threatens the human race."

Holding such views, it is not surprising that Lanti soon found himself at odds with the ideology of Soviet Imperialism which lasted throughout Stalin's blood-soaked regime and for several decades after. But that, as they say is another story for another time.

(To be continued)

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