Amsterdam, June 2012, Number 31
Editors: Vera Ebels, Christina Zorich
In cooperation with partners in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia, CEEBP has developed a project aimed at creating self-sustainable, publicly accessible online Books In Print catalogues that will be inter-operable with the “Accessible Registries of Rights Information and Orphan Works towards Europeana” (in short, “ARROW towards Europeana”).
There are still no Books In Print in Hungary, Slovakia, and Slovenia, while those that do exist in the Czech Republic, Serbia, and Romania need to be modernised and made inter-operable with the ARROW system, which facilitates rights information management necessary for The European Library and Europeana.
The BIPTOW project will introduce standards, improve the quality and quantity of book metadata, enhance the use of Books In Print among publishers, booksellers, libraries and the public, and foster cooperation between Books In Print and ISBN offices/National Libraries.
The focus of the project is to establish best practices in the compiling and processing of book metadata, developing viable, self-sustainable Books In Print in accordance with the required standards, and embedding the Books In Print in the book sector in partner countries.
Books In Print is of utmost importance for the book trade, and an indispensable source of data for ARROW and Europeana. The project thus paves the way for the implementation of ARROW, and for increasing the number of books digitalised within The European Library (TEL) and Europeana in these countries.
New features functional to the ARROW system for The European Library and Europeana will assist in copyrights maintenance, and enhance the transparency of the book market.
Books In Print online catalogues provide up-to-date information about books published with ISBN in a given country that are available on the market. Here the public can find book summaries and authors’ biographies, book reviews, interviews, and news from the book market with links to the national and international press and blogs. Books In Print attracts many thousands of visitors.
For publishers, Books In Print is an essential instrument for the presentation of their books, authors, and their publishing house at a central spot in the cultural world.
For the news media, it provides links to their book reviews, interviews with authors, and news and other book related articles on their websites, in short, an extra exposure.
For booksellers and librarians,it is an up-to-date source of information that makes the selection and acquisition of new books easier and faster, an indispensable device to find the books their customers need, and a time-saving overview all in one place.
For teachers, students, journalists and the general public, Books In Print forms an invaluable source of information about books, authors, book launches, and bookshops and libraries in their vicinity, all in a hub.
Due to the inclusion of data about the original language of the book and the language of the book edition, first introduced in the Romanian Infocarte, the Books In Print developed within the project will allow the tracking and monitoring of translations and compiling of translation statistics.
The project is based on 3 years of partial support for the initial investment, and direct running costs of compiling, checking, and editing the metadata, training, coaching, and sharing best practices from earlier CEEBP Books In Print projects, ARROW Plus, The European Library, the International ISBN Agency, and other experts.
Project partners are the Association of Czech Booksellers and Publishers, the Hungarian Magyar Books In Print Ltd., the Romanian Books In Print Infocarte.ro, the Serbian Books In Print KnjigaInfo.com (MCMost), the Slovak Association of Publishers and Booksellers (recently merged with the Index Association of Independent Publishers), the Slovak Literary Information Centre, the Slovenian UMco (Bukla book review), the Dutch Foundation for Literature, and CEEBP.
In May 2012, CEEBP submitted the project proposal to the Information and Communication Technologies Policy Support Program of the European Commission.
Prior to the London Book Fair in April this year, to which China was invited as the “market focus” country, PEN International urged discussion of Chinese literature and censorship at the Book Fair. Exiled Chinese authors – not to mention imprisoned or otherwise persecuted writers in China – were not invited by either the Book Fair or the British Council and thus could not enter the Fair premises. According to the banned Chinese poet Yang Lian, who lives in London, “countries are becoming companies”. Remembering only too well what it means to live under a communist dictatorship, staff at the Romanian stand offered space to the banned writers for a meeting.
One of the exiled dissident Chinese writers, Ma Jian, banned in China since 1987, said: “We don’t object to the writers who are invited, but until all of us are free to speak and write no Chinese writer is free.” According to Ma Jian, the Chinese state uses writers “as pawns in their political games”, and “high profile events such as the Olympics and international book fairs have helped legitimise China’s totalitarian state, giving it the international stamp of approval it craves, and allowing it to clamp down with greater force on critical voices back at home.” The persecution of dissident writers and human rights activists has only increased since 2008, when China was the focus country at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
The writer Murong Xuecun told The Guardian during the book fair: “Instead of just relying on violence to keep writers in line, the authorities have the added option of buying them. So, they buy some of them, arrest a few others, and ignore the rest.”
Speaking during the meeting at the Romanian stand, the President of PEN International, John Ralston Saul, pointed out that more than a hundred human rights defenders have been detained or harassed, and thirty-five Chinese authors are in prison, some for many years.
Sources: Richard Lea: Is the London Book Fair supporting Chinese censorship? (The Guardian 13 April 2012), Jonathan Mirsky: Bringing Censors to the Book Fair (The New York Review of Books blog 18 April 2012; print version 24 May 2012), and PEN International.
Written between 1768 and 1774, Cartas Marruecas (Moroccan Letters) were only published in 1789, six years after José Cadalso’s death. A soldier who did not believe in war, Cadalso seems not to have believed in what was to become one of his most famous books either.
Following Montesquieu’s model, Cadalso tries to find “exoticism” in his own country, and his Letters are not only an attempt to describe Spain through the eyes of a foreigner, but also an attempt to reach into the depths of the truth. However, the truth revealed in this book is not only multilayered, but evasive, too, as none of the three correspondents is completely reliable. Gazel, the Moroccan diplomat assigned to Spain, who (too) often borrows his Spanish friend’s opinions, is characterized as rather ingenuous. And this description is made by none other than the main addressee of his letters, Ben-Beley, his adoptive father and master.
As Gazel tries to decipher the Spain of his times, he addresses a wide variety of subjects, from courtship and women’s status to fashion and luxury, industry, agriculture and the army, but the main themes are national identity, education, and the pursuit of a virtuous life. Ranging from irony to satire or meditation, the letters, no matter how varied the subjects, add up to a plea for moderation – although sometimes with peremptory arguments.
At some point, Gazel is confused about the difference between the Spanish and foreign accounts of the conquest of Mexico, but Nuño, his friend, is there, ready to help, and although at first he recommends a mature reflection, he hurriedly dismisses all accusations, condemning the countries that denounce Spain’s cruelty of being engaged in the slave trade. Still, the 21 pro-Hernán Cortés arguments that follow are actually undermined by his statement, if only because Spain’s American colonies were a profitable destination for slaveholders.
Cadalso’s intention surely must have aimed at putting forward some reforms necessary in the Spain of his time. All of the 90 letters are a statement of radical humanism and a plea for a critical approach. As one of the most important authors of the Spanish Enlightenment, Cadalso was too original to follow Montesquieu’s model strictly. If the French author’s Introduction projected a modest translator, the Introduction to Morrocan Letters shows someone who candidly confesses that his ego would be badly hurt if he accepted the humble role of editor, sabotaging at the same time the very convention of authenticity implied by publishing the letters received from a late friend. At the end of a hilarious argument, he even claims that he is the author of the letters to follow – and he does so in the name of the truth, which he has always worshiped, even when he saw it “tied to the chariot of the triumphant lie”.
Cadalso seems to have learned well Cervantes’ lesson, and, with or against his will, one of his book’s merits, besides its cultural and literary value, is that it questions truth, objectivity, and nationalism.
If you have never read anything by the novelist, short story writer, poet and translator Danilo Kiš (1935-1989), one of the most important literary voices to come out of the former Yugoslavia and indeed 20th century Eastern Europe, then Lauta i oziljci (The Lute and the Scars) is a good place to start.
The short stories presented in this slim volume, published posthumously in Belgrade in 1994, were written between 1980 and 1986. They are, in so many ways, a continuing dialogue with his earlier works. Best known for his collections of short stories A Tomb for Boris Davidovich (1976) and The Encyclopedia of the Dead, (1983), Kiš had intended to include in the latter the first four stories that appear in The Lute and the Scars, but he eventually discarded them and only now have they seen the light of day.
Of Jewish Hungarian and Montenegrin descent, Kiš’s writing reflects the complex Central and East European world he hailed from. Interested in hidden histories, he mixes fact and fiction, documented figures as characters and the power of the imagination. Many of the stories in The Lute and the Scars contain elements of the biographical and autobiographical. Apatrid (“The Stateless”) is about a writer without a country (based on Ödön von Horváth), the eponymous Jurij Golec is a suicidal Auschwitz survivor (based on the Ukrainian Jewish writer Piotr Rawitz though it is also worth remembering that Kiš’s father died in Auschwitz). In the title story of this collection, Kiš evokes his own student days in Belgrade, the room he rented from Russian émigrés, the cafés he frequented. In the late 1940s the main character in The Poet is sent to prison for his metaphors about Tito and the Party. The Nobel Prize-winning writer Ivo Andrić inspires The Debt. The last two-part prose piece, A. and B., subtitled “The Magical Place” and “The Worst Rat-hole I Visited”, evokes the coastal town of Kotor and Montenegro where he went to school and grew up.
These stories highlight the on-going dilemma between love and death and between death and writing. In a world of oppressive regimes and political exile, they raise the question of death as a voluntary symbolic act versus writing as the only possible means of survival.
For the anti-nationalist Kiš, who lived the last years of his life in “Joycean exile” in Paris, his home was the world. And yet the reader can detect a certain wistfulness in the stories in The Lute and the Scars – for the land that he came from and for his language.
In March 2012, the CEEBP awarded sixteen grants for books. Eleven grants were awarded for West – East translations, four for East – East translations, and one for a translation from the Arabic. Eleven of the grants for books concern works in the humanities, five are titles in belles letters.
Fourteen of the sixteen grants were awarded with the support of the Allianz Cultural Foundation, Berlin.
Walter Benjamin, Moskauer Tagebuch (with a preface by Gershom Scholem and annotations by Gary Smith), German – Polish translation by Bogdan Baran, Aletheia, Warszawa
Hassan Blasim, Madżnun Sahat al-Hurijja (The Madman of Freedom Square), Arab – Polish translation by Agnieszka Piotrowska, Biuro Literackie, Wrocław
Boris Buden, Zone des Übergangs. Vom Ende des Postkommunismus, German – Romanian translation by Maria-Magdalena Anghelescu, Tact, Cluj-Napoca
E.M. Cioran, La Chute dans le temps and De l’inconvénient d’être né, French – Bulgarian translation by Krassimir Petrov, Fakel Express, Sofia
Ivan Čolović, Balkan – terror kulture, Serbian - Macedonian translation by Ljupka Hristova-Bashevska, Slovo, Skopje
Timothy Garton Ash, The File: A Personal History, English – Bulgarian translation by Marin Zagorchev, Fama, Sofia
Claudio Magris, Microcosmi, Italian – Albanian translation by Viola Adhami, Aleph, Tirana
Franz Neumann, Behemoth. The Structure and Practice of National Socialism, 1933 – 1944, English – Croatian translation by Damjan Lalović, Disput, Zagreb
Joseph Nye, Power in the 21st Century, English – Serbian translation by Alen Bešić and Igor Cvijanović, Arhipelag, Belgrade
Taras Prokhasko, NeprOsti (The UnSimple), Ukrainian - Czech translation by Jekaterina Gazukina and Alexandra Stelibská, Pavel Mervart, Červený Kostelec
Petro Rykhlo, Shibbolet: Essays on Jewish-German Poetry of Bukovina, Ukrainian – Polish translation by Anna Chłopik and Paweł Jarosz, Austeria, Kraków
Eginald Schlattner, Rote Handschuhe, German – Hungarian translation by Zsuzsa Fodor, Koinónia, Cluj-Napoca
Hagen Schulze, Staat und Nation in der europäischen Geschichte, German – Polish translation by Dorota Lachowska, Warsaw University Press, Warszawa
Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, English – Czech translation by Petruška Šustrová, Paseka, Praha
Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out, English – Serbian translation by Lazar Macura, Službeni glasnik, Beograd
Serhiy Zhadan, Hymn of the Democratic Youth and Depeche mode, Ukrainian – Bulgarian translation by Albena Stamenova and Rayna Kamberova, Paradox, Sofia
Ivan Čolović, Etno. Priče o muzici sveta na Internetu (Ethno: The Story of World Music on the Internet), translated from Serbian into Polish by Magdalena Petryńska: Etno. Opowieści o muzyce świata w Internecie, Borderland, Sejny 2012
Christopher R. Browning, Remembering Survival: Inside a Nazi Slave-Labor Camp, translated from English into Polish by Hanna Pustuła-Lewicka: Pamięć przetrwania. Nazistowski obóz pracy oczami więźniów, Czarne, Wołowiec 2012
José Cadalso, Cartas marruecas, translated from Spanish into Polish by Barbara Sławomirska: Listy marokańskie, Sagittarius, Wadowice 2012
Julio Cortázar, Cuentos completos, translated from Spanish into Serbian by Aleksandra Mančić: Sabrane priche (2 vols), Službeni glasnik, Beograd 2012
Miljenko Jergović, Inšallah, Madona, inšallah, translated from Croatian into Belarusian by Siarhej Šupa: Inšallah, Madona, inšallah. Apavyadannya, Kolas, Minsk 2012
Danilo Kiš, Lauta i ožiljci (The Lute and the Scars), translated from Serbo-Croatian into Bulgarian by Zhela Georgieva: Lyutiya i belezi, Fama, Sofia 2012
Olivier Roy, L’Islam mondialisé, translated from French into Albanian by Aleko Minga: Globalizimi i islamit, Botimet IDK, Tirana 2012
Serhiy Zhadan, Anarchy in the UKR, translated from Ukrainian into Belarusian by Aleh Zhlutka: Anarchy in the UKR, Kovcheg, Minsk 2012
Books published with CEEBP support in 2011 received in 2012
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (revised edition), translated from English into Romanian by Horia Târnovanu: O teorie a dreptâţii, Editura Universitâţii “Alexandru Ioan Cuza”, Iaşi 2011
For a list of all books published with CEEBP support see under BOOKS