Esperanto
Author: David Poulson


Kalman Kalocsay

Author: David Poulson
Published on: April 30, 1999

The Esperanto Topic, which was begun last June, now comprises a total of 32 articles and so it's not surprising that new visitors to this WWW site may be puzzled by the fact that the most recent articles only deal with Esperanto literature, and some of those outstanding writers and publishers who have made this unique cultural manifestation possible.

Should that indeed be the case, let me reassure those new readers that the first twenty or so Topic articles were devoted to the history and development of Esperanto and to some of the remarkable individuals associated with that phenomenon. And I encourage them to consult the first articles in this series, if they have the time and inclination, to find out just how it all began.Start here.

But let me say further - and this fact cannot be emphasized too strongly - that, were it not for the fact that I can now talk at such length about Esperanto literature, that I feel as though I am now just scratching the surface of an inexhaustable mine of information, then there probably would never have been any history of Esperanto for me to talk about in the first place.

You see, probably not one in a hundred thousand people really understand the fact that Esperanto should not be discussed in terms of "a good idea which failed", or "an interesting project which was not quite good enough to succeed." Esperanto, now well over a hundred years old, is a living, evolving language, used every day by members of its own speech community and supported by its own literature, which also grows in quantity every day. There are hundreds of journals, newsletters and bulletins produced in Esperanto and, every month, some publisher releases, as well as textbooks and dictionaries, volumes of prose, poetry and drama.

(To see a list of more than 50 Esperanto journal titles which have been made available on the World Wide ).

It's an outstanding success! Never before in the history of the human race has anybody succeeded in doing what Dr Zamenhof did. And few such unique achievements - if any - have been so ignored and under-rated by the world in general.

Dr. Zamenhof, I think, understood right from the start that the survival of Esperanto depended to a very great extent on its acceptance as a literary language. Only by first proving itself capable of communicating the works of the world's greatest writers in translation would it be able to stand shoulder to should with ethnic languages.

Nothing but this passionate conviction could have driven Zamenhof to exhaustion and an early grave by taking on the huge ancillary tasks of translating the Old Testament, Hamlet, the Fables of Anderson, and so on, on top of his many other onerous commitments.

The same compulsion drove the enigmatic Kabe (Kazimierz Bein ), during his short but brilliant association with Esperanto to translate Boleswaw Prus's massive three-volume work "The Pharaoh."

And it certainly inspired the polyglot chemical engineer, Antoni Grabowski (1857-1921), to translate (among his other achievements) the great epic poem by Mickiewicz, "Pan Tadeusz" (in Esperanto, "Sinjoro Tadeo"), thus earning himself the title of "The Father of Esperanto Poetry."

And these three brilliant Poles inspired, in their turn, two remarkable Hungarians: Julio Baghy and Kaloman Kalocsay.

Although it is difficult to talk about one of these "poetic brothers" without reference to the other, I want as far as is possible, to concentrate on Kalocsay during my next few articles, leaving Baghy for a later date.

For any readers who may be impatient to know more about Baghy, here, to be going on with, is his little story: "How Mihok learned English." (For competent Esperanto speakers only).

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