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Thomas Mann or Why We Don’t Read German Writers (And They Don’t Read Us either)



This year Spain is the country invited to the Frankfurt Book Fair and this allows us to evaluate Translating the presence of Spanish literature in the different languages ​​of the country into German Which, before this event, was rather weak. Except for specific cases, such as the case of A Best seller the world as it was wind shadow (which had its unstoppable beginning precisely in Germany, after the enthusiastic words of the then Foreign Minister, Joshka Fischer on a TV show with a large audience), from See you from Bamanu by Jaume Capri also Heart pure white by Javier MariasSpanish authors did not stand out in bookshops and did not reach significant sales figures. They arrived, of course, but more than a flow, one can speak of a drop.

While that, In Germany there is a lot of interest in the language, and Spain is a well-known country, which is also, with Italy, part of the ideal of the Latin South so dear to German Romanticism. “Kinst de Das Land, wo die Zitronen blühn?” (Do you know the country where lemon trees bloom?) is one of Goethe’s most famous lines and talks about longing for the South, even if it is only a place of dreams, because for economic reasons, countries form Which the PIGS club misses.But, well, whether it’s a country longing or a scapegoat for the North’s economic savvy, it’s a country that’s known, it’s interesting, it’s visited. On the other hand, why is so little Spanish literature translated?

A few years ago, in Frankfurt, I heard a talk by the German translator Miguel Sainz, who said the following: Thomas Mann was one of the biggest problems with the spread of German literature in the world. Of course it was an exaggerated statement, a provocation, but it was partly right, because there are symbolic works and authors that characterize the perception of literature in a particular country or language. Thomas Mann is seen as the author of ideas, cerebral, of very long, long and complex sentences. His style somehow colors the way we see German authors, because it fits with the picture we have of Germanic culture. let’s be honest, We read very few German authors, also because it is rarely translated. The white that died off its tail.

Who could be our Thomas Mann? In the case of Spanish literature, I think it is not who but what. In Germany, Spanish literature, quite unlike Latin American literature, is seen as Focused on war and post-war and formally traditionalSomewhat familiar. Other people’s fashion usually evokes little interest. Civil war or post-war are important and interesting topics. Contrary to popular opinion, I think we still have a lot to say about it. We are interested. we. Attention is limited outside our borders. This image is deeply rooted among the German public, and the translated texts do not achieve the specific weight of its transformation. People keep thinking of 19th century texts, always counting the same period, no matter how long it was. It’s a stereotype, sure, but there are few things that are more difficult to break than ideas and stereotypes, of whatever kind, they need a lot of persistence, and so many examples that go against them, over and over again, hitting them at their base until they fall.

This is why it is so appreciated that there is an opportunity in this exhibition to learn about other themes, other forms, and other literary voices. The restoration of the classics, other than Don Quixote, but also modernity, both in the works of emerging and established authors, because modernity has nothing to do with the age of the writer. Learn about different generations and genres, approaches, scenarios and mldr; In short, it piques the curiosity of German readers.

In turn, we must also free him from the formidable shadow of Thomas Mann (an undoubtedly great author) and discover the richest German literature. Because flows are much better if you go both ways.

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