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Latvian-Spanish bilingual publication of epic poem “Lāčplēsis” aspires to strengthen the relationship between both cultures
Aija Rozenšteine
12.12.2017.

The first Spanish translation of the Latvian literature classic – the epic poem “Lāčplēsis” (“The Bear Slayer”) by Andrejs Pumpurs, has been published. It is a bilingual Latvian-Spanish publication with comments about development of epic poetry genre and the eminence of the main character – Lāčplēsis – in the Latvian culture. The publisher is the University of Latvia Press.

The book has been launched on December 5, in the University of Latvia (UL) Small Hall (Raiņa bulvāris 19, Riga). Rector of the UL Indriķis Muižnieks, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Spain in Riga Guillermo Lopez Gallego, Board Member of the Freeport of Riga, Head of the UL Rector’s Office Baiba Broka, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities Ilze Rūmniece, and other guests of the event gave speeches, and the formal part of the event was concluded with a bilingual reading of the epic poem.

Translator of the epic poem into Spanish Miguel Angel Perez Sanchez is satisfied with the results. “This epic poem is the first Latvian classical work translated into Spanish. With this publication, I hope to contribute to balancing the current situation, which can be described, as follows – while the Spanish authors’ works enjoy appreciation and interest in the Baltic countries, the Spanish speaking readers and critics have almost no knowledge of the Latvian literature. I do not believe that this imbalance can be accounted for by the disproportional number of readers in each language or different time periods regarding the literature traditions, comparing the thousand years old Spanish tradition to the Latvian literature tradition spanning approximately two hundred years, as the literature of even smaller nations, for example, Icelandic and Albanian, can pride itself on significant amount of translations in Spanish. It can rather be explained by a historical lack  of interest in the world encompassed by the Baltic countries, which was introduced to us only at the end of the 19th century through the works of Angel Ganivet. Today, the number of translations is also influenced by continuous changes in the publishing field in attempt to adjust to the current tendencies. If the translation helps to strengthen the relationship of both cultures and increase the mutual interest, the translator will be more than satisfied with the achieved results.”

Besides the text written by A. Pumpurs  and the Spanish translation, the book also includes the translator’s introduction, as well as a short overview of the epic poem consisting of two articles: “Song of Dreams and Victory” (“Sapņu un uzvaras dziesma”) by Head of the UL Department of Latvian and Baltic Studies Ojārs Lāma about the epic poem “Lāčplēsis” by Andrejs Pumpurs, and “Search for a Hero. European and Spanish Epic Poem” by Director of the University of Alcala Cervantes Institute Carlos Alvar Ezquerra.

The book is published with the support of the Freeport of Riga and its Board Member Baiba Broka and the Director of the Administrative Department Irina Gorbatikova-Bondarenko, Columbian Honorary Consulate in Latvia, Embassy of Spain in Latvia, the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Latvia in the Republic of Paraguay Pablo Livieres Guggiari, as well as financial and institutional support of Marta Vītola, Founding Member of the Vītols Fund.

The newly published book and other publications of the UL Press can be acquired at the book shop at the UL main building, Raiņa bulvāris 19, 1st floor, next to the cloakroom (open 12.00–17.00 every work day). Further information about purchasing the books published by the UL Press is available from Silvija Siliņa, tel. 29447611, e-mail: silvija.silina@lu.lv