Celebrating Esperanto at the Irish Centre
Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 16th November, 2012
One of the joys of Europe is the continent’s linguistic and cultural diversity, and that goes far beyond the 23 official and working languages of the European Union. There are a plethora of minority tongues which are now standing tall and proud, from Catalan to Guernsey Norman, which just happen to be two of the languages featured by the independent publisher Francis Boutle, who over the last few years have brought out a series of books that aim to bring marginal language literature into the mainstream. This evening, at the Irish Centre in Camden Square, Esperantists gathered for the launch of Star in a Night Sky, a bilingual anthology of Esperanto literature edited by Paul Gubbins for Francis Boutle. Both Clive Boutle from the publishers (in English) and Paul Gubbins (in Esperanto) spoke and I was gratified to see how much of the latter I understood. I briefly studied the language while I was reading Chinese and Japanese at Oxford, and indeed I was President of the Oxford University Esperanto Society, though I haven’t been involved in “green star” circles for a long time. Detractors like to claim that no-one speaks the lamguage, which is manifestly untrue; there were people from Sweden, Slovakia and Slovenia, amongst others, happily chatting away in Esperanto with Brits at this evening’s event and I have met keen Esperantists in Poland and Japan. Of course, Esperanto is a language of idealism, as its name implies. But the new anthology is a salutory reminder that over the past 125 years since the Polish Jewish doctor Ludwig Zamanhof invented the idiom, some interesting and sometimes moving creative literature has been crafted in it.