Esperanto
Author: David Poulson


The Day of the Book

Author: David Poulson
Published on:December 24, 1999

Introductory note for new visitors to the Esperanto Topic.

Introductory note for new visitors to the Esperanto Topic.

If you have only just begun to take an interest in Esperanto and wish to know some basic information about this fascinating subject, please start your reading at the first article of this series. Having already completed 49 articles, I am now at the stage of writing articles for those readers who have learned quite a lot about the Esperanto language and movement already, and who are now wanting to find out more than just the basic introductory information.

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As the due date for this article is the 24th of December, and as it also the fiftieth article in the series, I decided to write something which has a flavour of celebration and festivity about it. And at the same time, I will be able to take the opportunity to introduce you to some more interesting people and point you to some important WWW links.

Let me start with Marjorie Boulton. Among her many books, this talented writer wrote a biography of Zamenhof in which she described an important even which took place in December 1878. The 15th of that month was Zamenhof's 19th birthday and two days later, several of his friends visited his home for a modest party. But the party wasn't just a birthday party. It was a formal celebration of the completion of Zamenhof's prototype of an international language and we are told by Marjorie Boulton that the young men "made short speeches in the language and sang a hymn of brotherhood."

The following year, however, Zamenhof was accepted as a student at Moscow University and his father insisted that no more time should be spent on the further development of an international language. To ensure his son's compliance with his parental directive, Zamenhof senior took possession of all of the written material which his son had prepared up to that time and locked it away in a cupboard. Then while his son was completing his medical degree, he destroyed all of the manuscripts, a fact which Zamenhof didn't learn about until 1881, when he had to start again and re-construct everything from memory.

Many years later, it became traditional for Esperanto groups to meet socially on or close to the 15th of December to celebrate Zamenhof's birthday and...well...just to have a party. One member of the group is selected to give a short speech in Esperanto (I have done this myself) and sometimes members of the group exchange gifts. A tradition has grown up related to this as well. In order to support the infant Esperanto publishing industry, Esperantists are encouraged to buy a book in Esperanto in December, either for themselves or as a gift for someone else.

A valued book which I received on December 15th 1985 is Faktoj kaj Fantazioj, probably the best "reader" for progressive Esperanto students ever published. It was commissioned by the Universala Esperanto Asocio and is a collection of fables, stories and interesting facts, arranged into 52 chapters and written - all 430 pages of it - by Marjorie Boulton.

The cover of that book was designed by Frank Luin, from Sweden, who has made an contribution of enormous significance to the Esperanto presence on the World Wide Web. Investigate the following links to see some of the things Frank has achieved.

Marjorie Boulton was born in 1924 and, like her good friend and colleague William Auld, celebrated her 75th birthday this year.

She became an Esperantist in 1949, about the same time or shortly after she completed her doctor's degree in English literature at Oxford University. For many years, until her retirement she was on the senior staff of a college and she wrote a number of books to introduce the undergraduate student of English to various aspects of critical theory. These books have been very popular and I can recommend them to anyone either teaching or studying English literature and language. You will find them, I'm sure, in any reputable academic library.

In the Esperanto movement, Marjorie is known as a 100% activist (her name still appears as senior member of the Esperanto Students' Committee at Oxford University. She is a member of SAT and a contributor to that organization's journals.
But, first and foremost, she is an outstanding poet. Her first collection, Kontralte, was published by Juan Regulo Perez in the Stafeto series in 1955.
And, let me remind you, that that was only six years after she began to learn the language. Several other collections followed in a sustained five-year burst of creativity, and she has also published collections of short stories and dramatic sketches. Other notable works are Rimleteroj, (Auld is the other partner in this collection of correspondence in verse) and a study of the Hungarian poet, Julio Baghy called Poeto Fajrakora.

Her work in both languages is characterized by warmth, charm, enthusiasm, humanistic sentiments and a gentle sense of humour. However, like Baghy himself, her poetry sometimes displays a great depths of feeling and passionate intensity.

You can sample some of her work by following these links:
http://www76.pair.com/keithlim/jabberwocky/translations/esperanto2.html

I am aware that some very knowledgeable Esperantists sometimes read these Topic articles so, for them, here is a Christmas puzzle. Who are the protagonists in this poetic fragment, when did the events occur, and which outstanding poet wrote the poem from which it came?

"Kaj ili, kiuj sciis jam ne legi
sed nur bruligi librojn grandvalorajn,
vandalis vian Beethovan buston
kaj portretitan murdis nian cxiam bonkoran Marjorie?"

I'll give the answer in the next Topic article, due to appear on January 10th

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