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Catalan classics in other languages

by Costanzo Di Girolamo

The dissemination of the work of Ausiàs March (Valencia, 1400-1459) within the Iberian peninsula coincides with the beginning of the political and cultural decadence of the Catalan lands; it is precisely for this reason that the editio princeps , published in Valencia in 1539, contains – as well as the Catalan text of forty-six poems, the Castilian translation by the knight Baltasar de Romaní, and was later reprinted, without the Catalan text, in Seville in 1533. Other 16 th century versions, also in Castilian, are by the Portuguese writer Jorge de Montemayor (Valencia, 1560), reprinted twice (Zaragoza, 1562; Madrid, 1579), and that of an anonymous translator (unpublished until 1946); the translation of some fragments was attributed, wrongly, to Quevedo. In the 17 th century, March was translated impeccably into elegiac Latin distychs by the by the Valencian humanist Vicent Mariner.

In the 20 th century, Ausiàs March has been translated into modern Catalan by Joan Fuster (1969), Lluís-Anton Baulenas (1986), Josep Pujol (1992), Josep Pujol and Francesc Gómez (1998) and Climent Forner (1999); into Castilian by Martí de Riquer (1941), Pere Gimferrer (1978), Rafael Ferreres (1979), Juan Anton Icardo (1997); into French by Patrick Gifreu (1994), although also worth bearing in mind is the translation, into alexandrines, of three compositions, forming part of the work of Josep Palau i Fabre, published in France in 1956; into Italian by Costanzo Di Girolamo (1998); into English by Arthur Terry (1976) and by Robert Archer (1992); into German by Hans-Ingo Radatz (1993); into Hungarian by Déri Balázs (2000); into Esperanto by Jaume Grau Casas (1925) and by Abel Mantagut (1993). All these translations are to be found in anthologies, except for that of Ferreres which is, nonetheless, one of the least reliable; some are in verse, others in prose. To these can be added the versions, in different languages, of some poems, such as the Cant spiritual , translated into Castilian by Jesús Massip (1959) and Juan Ramón Masoliver (1985). In 2001 a non-commercial edition was published in Valencia of a collection of ten poems accompanied by translations both published and previously unpublished, in ten languages: German (Hans-Ingo Radatz), English (Dominic Keown), Arabic (Mahmud Sobh), Basque (Ibon Sarasola), Castilian (Pere Gimferrer and José María Micó), French (Patrick Gifreu), Galician (Arcadio López Casanova), Hebrew (Shlomo Avayou), Italian (Costanzo Di Girolamo), Latin (Vicent Mariner). The most successful translations are those in French by Gifreu and the one into hendecasyllables by José María Micó, largely unpublished. A glance at the dates shows that translations have increased in number over recent decades in a geometrical progression, and bear witness to the international interest caused by this poet.

The conceptual complexity and the linguistic roughness of the work of Ausiàs March are a tremendous challenge for any translator. On the other hand, the translations, as well as making a master piece of European literature available in other languages, also have the function of making it easier to understand and interpret.

Catalan Writing [Barcelona: ILC; PEN Català] 16-17 (novembre 2002) Pàg. 30
Translated by Matthew Tree
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