Esperanto
Author: David Poulson


The Making of an Esperantist

Author: David Poulson
Published on: July 7, 2000

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 63 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. To get to the beginning of this series

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The Making of an Internationalist

"ARREST
Formally to detain one accused of unusualness."
Ambrose Bierce. The Devil's Dictionary.

Verda Majo was not kept in prison for very long - she had committed no offence - but after her release she was expelled from the University and compelled to return to her home in Tokyo. Wrongful arrest followed by unjust victimization of this kind is a highly traumatic experience. Timid people are usually thoroughly intimidated by it and are careful never again to antagonize the powers that be. But Verda Majo was not a timid person and she had great strength of character and a fervent sense of what was right and what was wrong. Her experience only strengthened her conviction that the evil reactionary forces which were seizing control of Japan had to be resisted.

And so, after she returned to Tokyo in the autumn of 1932, Verda Majo joined the Japana Prolet-Esperantista Unio and other small Esperanto groups, such as the Japana Esperanto-Literatura Societo and the Klara Rondo (a group of women with progressive ideas who named their little society after a German socialist, Klara Zeitkin.) She also enrolled in a typing course and put this skill to good use by contributing articles to various journals.

In fact, the speed with which she acquired fluency in Esperanto is impressive. In late 1932 she would still have been a novice but in 1935 she was capable of contributing a series of articles on "the present state of proletarian literature" to the Esperanto journal La Mondo which was not published in Japan, but in Shanghai.

This page also contains a sound file which will be of interest to new readers who have never heard Esperanto spoken. And the short quotation also appears, surprisingly, in a recent sermon by the Reverend Samuel A. Trumbore

However, anyone who wants to read more of her work cannot do better than to buy the inexpensive volume of her collected works which was published by the Chinese Esperanto Publishing House in 1982. The book catalogue of the Esperanto League of North America

- lists this title as still being available for purchase and I think that is excellent value for money. No doubt it can be obtained from "Libro Servoj" in other parts of the world too. The relevant entry reads as follows:

VERKOJ DE VERDA MAJO. Autobiographical and translated works by a famous Japanese Esperantist, who lived in China and supported the anti?Japanese war. With photographs. 1982. 501p. 210x150. Paper. China. VER009 $6.00

I should mention, though, that if the word "paper" means that the book in question is a paperback, it may be an error. Certainly my own copy of this work, which was also published in 1982, is handsomely bound in hard cover.

Crossing the Rubicon

The next important event for Verda Majo took place in 1936. Here is what happened in Ye Laishi's own words, which I have translated from the original Esperanto.

"It was probably in the Spring of 1936 that Verda Majo, through her Esperanto connections, met Liu Ren, a Chinese student in Tokyo. In Autumn of the same year, she announced that she and Liu Ren had married, without the consent of her family, but were not living together. Evidently, Verda Majo was well aware that her parents would not agree to such a marriage but she wanted to go ahead with it so that she could then take the next step - leave Japan and travel to China. As the wife of Liu Ren, it would be harder to find an excuse to prevent her from going.

At the beginning of 1937, Liu Ren went back to Shanghai by himself and Verda Majo followed several months later. She left Yokohama by ship on the 15th of April, with the assistance of Deng Keqiang and other Chinese students, who had made very careful arrangements for this secret trip. Before her flight, she burned all letters, articles, notes, photographs etc., in anticipation of all possible consequences and preparing to meet them with firm determination. She had crossed the Rubicon."

Well, cross the Rubicon she may have done, but she also entered the lion's den with a vengeance! I will be continuing the story of Verda Majo in my next Topic article, which will appear on July 14th, but meanwhile, to give you a foretaste of what she was heading for when she left Yokohama for Shanghai, pay a short visit to these pages:

http://www.japan-guide.com/a/shanghai/index.html

See you next time!

Note. I shall be leaving for a short trip to Thailand on Saturday July 8th and will be unable to participate in the Discussion Forum associated with the Esperanto Topic until after I return to Perth on July 24th. The next article will, however, be posted on schedule, ie on the 14th. I apologise to my readers for any inconvenience.

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