Some Worthwhile Reading
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Although most books about Esperanto are written in Esperanto, there are a few English works that will repay your reading with more knowledge about the language. I can recommend:
- Andrew Large: The Artificial Language Movement. Oxford/New York: Basil Blackwell, 1985. This recent work goes into great detail about matters which I have discussed in chapter 3. It devotes much space to the philosophical languages of the Reformation and post-Reformation period; however, its knowledge of more recent language projects is regrettably limited. Out of seven chapters, one is devoted entirely to Esperanto. Though Large rehashes a few old, and often uninformed, criticisms of Esperanto (for instance, he regrets the lack of the words radaro and hospitalo in Esperanto, both of which can be found in any Esperanto dictionary), on the whole his discussion is quite objective. This may be because much of the material on Esperanto was borrowed directly from ...
- Peter Forster: The Esperanto Movement. New York: Mouton De Gruyter, 1981. Forster is himself an Esperantist, and his bias shows in this work. Ostensibly a sociological discussion of the makeup of the Esperanto movement, much of the work is devoted to the history of Esperanto, with some emphasis on its relationship to other constructed language projects; the final third is based around a survey Forster did of the British Esperanto movement during his postgraduate work at Hull University. The book is interesting and informative, but not particularly easy reading -- less easy, for instance, than Large.
- Mario Pei: One Language for the World. New York: Devon-Adair, 1958. Pei's book is today hard to come by, but worth the effort. Written in a more popular vein than Large's, it has wider scope though less detail, particularly with respect to 20th century language projects. In one section Pei alternately puts forth different candidates for the post of International Language and then criticises them to the
point of rejection; all his criticisms of Esperanto are obviously fallacious (Pei was a supporter of Esperanto, though he did not speak the language), and it would be good practice for the budding Esperantist to find the flaws in them.
- Rudiger Eichholz: Esperanto, the Solution to Our Language Problem. Bailieboro: Esperanto Press, 1981. This book is a compendium of articles and polemics about Esperanto and its uses. Not terribly useful for light reading, it is nonetheless the source of much interesting background material about the language, if one knows how to pick and choose.
- Joseph Dubin: The Green Star. The only place you'll ever find this book today is in the stacks of your local public library, if there. Long out of date, it is nonetheless fun reading, and the arguments for Esperanto remain as valid as ever.
- George Alan Connor et al.: Esperanto: the World Interlanguage. South Brunswick: Thomas Yoseloff, 1966. Again, this book is available today only in libraries. Its major flaw is that it attempts to be all things to all men. The first section is an excellent introduction to the whole question of the language problem and the history of Esperanto. The text section is not for all tastes, but some may find it useful in learning the language. The topical material is long out of date.
- David Richardson: Esperanto: Learning and Using the International Language. El Cerrito: Esperanto League for North America, 1990 (2d ed.). A recent attempt to replace the Connor book, this work suffers from the same basic flaw in conception. It does, however, compensate to some degree. The topical section has been absorbed into the informational section (which is twice as long as that in the Connor
book, and more up-to-date), and the instructional section is far more complete than that of its predecessor. The textbook section is supplemented by a long collection of reading material which is thoroughly annotated.
- Janton, Pierre: Esperanto: Language, Literature, and Community. Albany: State University of New York, 1993. This is an excellent overview of Esperanto, its literature and movement, based on an earlier French work by Janton and on the 1988 Esperanto edition (see below).
- Nuessel, Frank: The Esperanto Language.
Ottawa: LEGAS, 2000. This could be described as an overlong review article about Esperanto: well-researched and well-documented, it gives a good introductory overview of the language but does not go into sufficient detail on specific points.
- Zaft, Sylvan: Esperanto: A Language for the Global Village. Calgary: Esperanto-Antaŭen, 2002. A combination of the theoretical and personal approach to the language, in which Zaft uses his own personal experiences with the language to bolster the case for it. Also available on-line.
If you can already read Esperanto, you will have access to the following two recent works, which, like this work, can serve as an introduction to the language and its history.
- William Auld: La Fenomeno Esperanto. Rotterdam: Universala Esperanto-Asocio, 1988. Auld's book is considerably shorter than this one, but covers much of the same material from a different point of view. By coincidence, Auld's approach to the language is the same as mine.
- Janton, Pierre: Esperanto. Rotterdam: Universala Esperanto-Asocio, 1988. This book, originally published in French, although shorter than this work, covers certain aspects of Esperanto and its history in much more detail than either Auld or I do. Janton is a linguist, and approaches the question of Esperanto as such. An English edition, translated by Humphrey Tonkin, is available, as described above.
An understanding of the background of Esperanto is not possible without an understanding of L. L. Zamenhof, the man who invented the language, and the forces that compelled him. Three books are available in English that describe this man:
- Edmond Privat: The Life of Zamenhof. Bailieboro: Esperanto Press, 1980. A translation of Privat's excellent Vivo de Zamenhof, this book might better be put aside until you can read it in the original, for style as well as content. How much of what is here can be taken literally is questionable; some people believe that Privat had a penchant for creating events in an attempt to apotheosize Zamenhof. Such carping aside, the book remains an excellent, though not necessarily deep, introduction to Zamenhof.
- Marjorie Boulton: Zamenhof, Creator of Esperanto. London: Routledge, Kegan & Paul, 1960 (reprinted by the British Esperanto Association, 1980). Much better researched, Boulton's book looks very closely at the psychological needs that drove Zamenhof. Her last two chapters loosely cover the history of Esperanto from Zamenhof's death in 1917 until the hundredth anniversary of his birth in 1959. A somewhat more complete version of this work, now unfortunately out of print, was published in Esperanto by Stafeto in the 1960's.
- Wendy Heller: Lidia. Oxford: George Ronald, 1985. This biography of Lidia Zamenhof, Zamenhof's daughter who died at Treblinka during the Nazi occupation of Poland, contains information about Lidia's famous father not available elsewhere, including memories of still extant relatives who knew him as children. In her preface, Heller -- who did not know Esperanto, or anything about it, when she began researching this workpraises the language to the skies and stresses how important a knowledge of it turned out to be for her research.
The best way to get to know Zamenhof, however, is through his own writings,
most of which are still available:
- Dietterle: Originala Verkaro. Oosaka: Oriental-Libro, 1983 (photo-reprint of the original edition). This relatively incomplete collection contains most of Zamenhof's essays and speeches, and a small selection of his correspondence.
- Gaston Waringhien: Leteroj de Zamenhof. Paris: SAT, 1948. This two-volume set, now long out of print, contains a much larger selection of Zamenhof's correspondence, but only from a specialized point of view: his relationships with the guiding forces of the French Esperanto movement during the period 1900-1910. Still, it is very worth reading to see how this little Russian Jewish eye doctor was capable of juggling half a dozen of France's most competent intellectuals, and foiling their every plot against him. Waringhien's commentary, like all his writings, is a joy to read.
- "ludovikito" (Ito Kanzi): Iam Kompletigota Verkaro de L. L. Zamenhof. Tokyo: ludovikito, various dates. To date the most complete set of Zamenhofiana, this series so far includes a large number of volumes, containing almost a complete set of Zamenhof's correspondence (as far as that is possible) and his translations and original works. Ito has also written an eight-volume biographical novel about Zamenhof which is, unfortunately, available only in Japanese.
There are no good books available in English, so far as I know, about the structure of the language itself. When you know Esperanto, two that will repay your reading are:
- Gaston Waringhien: Eseoj II: Lingvo kaj Vivo. Rotterdam: UEA, 1990 (2d ed.). An excellent and rather hefty volume, it provides a very good introduction to the history, sources, sociology and competitors of Esperanto, all from a linguistic viewpoint.
- John C. Wells: Lingvistikaj Aspektoj de Esperanto. Rotterdam: UEA, 1990 (2d ed.). A more recent though less comprehensive work than that of Waringhien. Wells studies the structure of Esperanto in comparison with various ethnic languages and in light of modern linguistic theories.
Good English-language textbooks are few and far between. In addition to the Richardson book described above, I will recommend five:
- John Cresswell and John Hartley: Teach Yourself Esperanto. London:
Hodder & Stoughton, 1987 (3rd ed.). For thirty years this has been
the touchstone against which all English-language textbooks have been
compared, and usually found wanting. The third edition, heavily revised
by J. H. Sullivan, is even better than the previous two. A text in 15
lessons (actually 16), the book can also be purchased with a cassette of
dialogues that appear in the text. I should add that the cassette is
optional, unnecessary, and spoken by Esperantists with strong British
- John C. Wells: Jen Nia Mondo. London: Group Five, 1972. This basic
textbook, largely in dialog format, was originally written for a radio
Esperanto course. It, too, comes with a cassette of the dialogues. A
second text with cassette follows the first course.
- Montague C. Butler: Step by Step in Esperanto. El Cerrito: The Esperanto
League for North America, 1991. This text goes into far more detail than
the other two, and is replete with examples, exercises, and reading material.
The serious student would do well to have a copy. It is perhaps more
appropriate for an advanced course or as a reference than for the beginning
student, especially the self-taught one.
- Jordan, Prof. David K.: Being Colloquial in Esperanto. El Cerrito: ELNA, 1999 (2nd edition). This is technically a reference work for those who have
completed a basic course, but can actually serve as a very good overview of the
language even for someone who is just getting started (it would be better
utilized in parallel with one of the books above, however). Aside from a reference
grammar, it also contains a long description of those words which cause the
most trouble for American students.
The serious student will want a dictionary with his textbook. As far as I
can tell, the best Esperanto dictionaries available today are Miyamoto's
Japanese-Esperanto dictionary and
Zhang's Esperanto-Chinese dictionary. Unfortunately, these will be of little use
to the budding American Esperanto-speaker. The Esperanto version of the
Duden picture dictionary, the Esperanta Bildvortaro
("Esperanto Picture-Dictionary") is now available from The Esperanto Press
in Canada, but it is more appropriate for an advanced and more specialized
student of Esperanto. There are six fairly decent dictionaries currently available
that I will recommend to the budding English-speaking Esperantist:
- John C. Wells:
The Esperanto Dictionary. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1969. This is an
excellent introductory dictionary, bidirectional (English-Esperanto and
Esperanto-English), without, however, the explanations that would easily
enable the user to make the appropriate choice when one English word is
matched up with three or four Esperanto words. It might best be used in
- Montague C. Butler:
Esperanto-English Dictionary. London: British Esperanto Association, 1967.
An excellent one-way dictionary, it goes into more detail than the Wells
dictionary and shows not only roots but various derived words.
- Fulcher and Long:
English-Esperanto Dictionary. Rickmansworth: Esperanto Publishing Company,
1963 (3rd edition). More complete than either Butler or Wells, but less
comprehensible than Butler and not as up to date as Wells. A reprint from
the British Esperanto Association is available.
- Andrew McLinen:
The Esperanto Pocket Dictionary. Warsaw: Lingua, 1992. Similar to
Wells, somewhat more up-to-date, with a good English-Esperanto section, though the
Esperanto-English section seems somewhat skimpy by comparison.
- Grosjean-Maupin et al.:
Plena Vortaro de Esperanto. With about eight thousand roots, this is the
definitive low-price Esperanto dictionary, surpassed only by its big brother,
the Plena Ilustrita Vortaro, which with fifteen thousand roots costs about
four times as much. This dictionary is completely in Esperanto, with words
and definitions as well as some illustrative derived words.
- Peter K. Benson:
Comprehensive English-Esperanto Dictionary. El Cerrito: Esperanto League
for North America, 1995. This is almost certainly the best English-Esperanto
dictionary every published; even more, it is a dictionary written primarily
with American rather than British English in mind, though it does include some
of the material from the small Australian-Esperanto dictionary. It is probably
less useful for the beginning Esperanto student than Wells or McLinen, but it
is a sine qua non for the advanced student and especially the would-be translator.
Works about Esperanto history and literature are generally available only
in Esperanto. Two extremely detailed works that will repay the interested
- Lapenna, Ivo et al.:
Esperanto en Perspektivo: Faktoj kaj analizoj pri la Internacia Lingvo.
London/Rotterdam: CED, 1974. This is a detailed overview of the history
and current status (as of the date of publication) of Esperanto throughout
the world. As reading material, it is not an easy work; as a well-indexed
reference, it is indispensable. The major caution the reader should observe
is to remember that it is, today, three decades out of date and, in any case, extremely hard to come by.
- Lins, Ulrich:
La danĝera lingvo: Studo pri la persekutoj kontraŭ Esperanto. Moscow:
Progress, 1990 (2d ed.; reprint under license). Originally a work of
fewer than a hundred pages, this study was published by an obscure
Esperanto publisher in Kyoto, Japan, in 1973; a somewhat expanded
version was published two years later, unfortunately only in Japanese
translation; and the original was reprinted as part of the above-mentioned
work Esperanto en Perspektivo. But few Esperantists have ever had the chance
to actually refer to it. Now, however, a much-expanded (500+ pages) edition
has been published in Germany, with a hardback reprint (including two
additional, and somewhat apologetic afterwords) coming from Moscow.
Emphasis is placed on the status of Esperanto in the Third Reich and,
to an even greater extent, in the Soviet Union. Regrettably, Lins has
not addressed more recent persecutions; the state of Esperanto in Romania
prior to the overthrew of Ceaucescu gets a single paragraph, and the
persecution of Esperantists in China during the Cultural Revolution and
in Iran during the early 1980's is addressed only in footnotes (one each).
Perhaps in a future edition ...
Cathy Schulze, in her review of this manuscript, has urged me to add a
list of some worthwhile reading for the student. Unfortunately, there is
very little written in Esperanto that is aimed strictly at the beginning
student; most writers assume (with some justice) that the new Esperantist
will emerge from his textbook ready to take on the Esperanto translation
(if one existed) of Finnegan's Wake. However, a very few authors have
dedicated some of their efforts to so-called "didactic literature."
Five such pieces that are currently available are the following:
- Piron, Claude:
Gerda Malaperis. Chapecó: Fonto, 1982 . Based on a series of lessons
Piron prepared for use at the San Francisco State University summer
Esperanto courses in the early 1980's, this is a short detective novel
based on a list of most common Esperanto words prepared by a group of
researchers in Zagreb, Jugoslavia. Piron introduces grammatical concepts
and affixes as he moves along through the story (for instance, the -N ending
does not occur in the first few chapters). A beginner with a good dictionary
(that of Wells, for instance) could profitably make use of this little book,
whose price was, last time I looked, about $2.00. Supplementary material for
the teacher is also available.
- Baghy, Julio:
La Verda Koro. Budapest: Hungara Esperanto-Asocio, 1983 (?) (reprint).
Like Gerda Malaperis, this is a didactic novel for beginners, and
describes the situation of a POW in Siberia during the First World
War involved in teaching Esperanto to a group of people of different
nationalities. Much of the attractiveness of the work comes from the
fact that it is largely autobiographical. As with Gerda, the beginner
can make good use of it.
- "Valano, Johán":
Ili Kaptis Elzan! Chapecó: Fonto, 1985. This semi-detective novel,
semi-farce about a staged kidnapping that goes awry, is aimed at the
somewhat more advanced student (say, one who has actually completed
a basic textbook). It is written in "easy Esperanto," i.e. with a
relatively small number of roots; but it makes no grammatical concessions
to the beginner.
- Piron, Claude:
Vere aŭ fantazie. Chapecó: Fonto, 1988. This is a good collection of
short stories and essays, written to use no more than a minimal vocabulary
of 405 roots in the first story. Additional roots are introduced in notes
at the end of each story, a few at a time.
- Kor¼enkov, Alexander (ed.):
Vivo kaj morto de Wiederboren. Ekaterinburg: Sezonoj, 1998.
Korj^enkov has collected twelve popular and relatively easy-to-read humorous stories
in this work aimed mainly at students who are advancing in their Esperanto. Included
is Reto Rossetti's classical and very tongue-in-cheek essay about the English "La
I should also mention a series of nine little books published by the
Chinese Esperanto Publishing House in Beijing, all of which are written
in relatively easy, straightforward Esperanto. All of them have to do
with fables and folk tales of the different peoples of China. These are:
Rakontoj pri Afanti (Stories about Nasruddin),
Saĝo-Sako (Sack of Wisdom),
La Feliĉa Birdo (The Happy Bird),
La Magia Ŝipo (The Magic Ship),
Papilia Fonto (Butterfly Source),
Bovisto kaj Teksistino (Cowherd and Weaver Girl),
Paŝtisto kaj Feino (Shepherd and Fairy),
Rateto Volas Edziniĝi (Little Rat Wants to Marry), and
Alfluginta Monto (The Mountain That Flew In).
The various works published
by the Dansk Esperanto-Forlag in Denmark also deserve the attention of the
post-beginner, particularly the collections of anecdotes Sub la Signo de la
Verda Stelo (Under the Sign of the Green Star) and
Rakontu, Samideano (Tell a Story, My Comrade).
Sten Johansson's "Al-fab-et-o" in Sweden has recently provided a series of graded readers for the beginning student. These include: La krimo de Katrina, La orpantalono, Inter tero kaj ĉielo, Vojaĝo kun Katrina and Katrina malfruas. A similar work by Johansson, Kion ajn, is available from the Eldona Societo Esperanto in Sweden.
In addition, William Auld's Paŝoj al
Plena Posedo (Steps to Complete Command)
from Heroldo de Esperanto and Marjorie Boulton's Faktoj kaj
Fantazioj (Facts and Fantasies)
will provide the advanced student with much relatively easy
reading (Auld's book also includes exercises; if you have an
Esperanto-speaking friend in China, you might get him to send you a copy
of the cheap Chinese edition, not for export, in plain brown wrapper).
Some students may wish to dive into Esperanto literature at an early date.
The following works will provide and excellent introduction:
- Zamenhof, L. L.:
Fundamenta Krestomatio ("Basic Chrestomathy"). Rotterdam: Universala
Esperanto-Asocio, 1992 (18th edition). 446 p. Mixed literature. This
collection of very early Esperanto articles, short stories and poems
(first published by Hachette in 1903) is often said to have only historical
significance today. Nonetheless, some of the included early works are
still of great literary interest. for example Zamenhof's translation of
Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" and his long essay "Essence and Future of
the International Language Problem," Grabowski's translation of Mickiewicz's
poem about the Three Budrys Brothers, and Kofman's original poem "The
Daughters of Iftah." A new edition is promised for the near future, with
notes by (of course!) Gaston Waringhien.
- Auld, William:
Nova Esperanta Krestomatio ("A New Esperanto Chrestomathy"). Rotterdam:
UEA, 1991. 509 p. Mixed Literature. This work is Auld's attempt,
mainly successful, to provide a worthwhile modern successor for the
old Fundamenta Krestomatio. Auld's selection of prose material and
original poetry is, for the most part, first-rate, but his attempt
to select translated poetry for origin rather than quality rather
- Auld, William (editor):
Esperanta antologio ("Esperanto Anthology"). Second edition, revised and
completed. Rotterdam: UEA, 1984. 887 p. Poetry. A compendium of the
cream of a hundred years of Esperanto poetry, this massive volume contains
samplings of the work of dozens of Esperantist poets from all over the world.
- Rossetti, Reto,
and Szilagyi, Ferenc: 33 rakontoj: la Esperanta novelarto ("33 Tales:
The Art of the Esperanto Short Story"). La Laguna: J. Régulo, 1964.
328 p. Short stories. 29 Esperantist authors are represented in this
preliminary anthology. The work includes such (relatively) early classics
as Baghy's "How Mihok Taught English," Ribillard's "M'Saud's Prayer,"
Forge's "Six Letters," and Szathmari's "A Perfect Citizen."
- Rossetti, Reto, and
Vatré, Henri: Trezoro ("Treasure"). Budapest: Hungara Esperanto-Asocio, 1989.
948 p. Prose. A successor to the earlier 33 rakontoj, this work contains
some 150 short stories, excerpts from novels, vignettes, and occasional
anecdotes by about 100 authors. The earlier years are rather sparsely
represented, compared to the last thirty years, from which a majority of the
William Auld, in his book La Fenomeno Esperanto, provided a "Basic Reading
List of Original Esperanto Literature." Auld updated this list in 1997. Any or all of these books would
repay your reading of them. I reproduce the list here, with few comments.
An asterisk before the name indicates that, to my knowledge or according to the Flemish
Esperanto League book service, the book is
currently available. Note: any of
those shown as currently available which come (in their current edition) from
J. Régulo in La Laguna are available only through a deal some years ago between UEA
and the now-retired Juan Régulo Perez; their availability in the near future
will be chancy, at best.
- *Auld, William (editor):
Esperanta antologio ("Esperanto Anthology"). Second edition, revised and
updated. Rotterdam: UEA, 1984. 887 p. Poetry. See above.
- *Auld, W.; Dinwoodie,
J. S.; Francis, J. I.; Rossetti, R.: Kvaropo ("Quartet"). La Laguna: J. Régulo,
1952. 267 p. Poetry. First literary publication of the so-called "Scottish
school." A reprint done by the Hungarian Esperanto Association a decade ago
also seems to be unavailable. Auld's poems have recently been reprinted in
En Barko Senpilota ("In a Pilotless Bark") (Pisa: Edistudio, 1987).
- *Auld, William:
La Infana Raso ("The Child Race"). La Laguna: J. Régulo, 1956. 104 p.
Poetry. A single epic poem, often considered the chef d'oeuvre of Esperanto
poetry. Currently available in its third printing from Artur E Iltis, and
also as part of En Barko Senpilota, mentioned above.
- *Baghy, Julio:
Pilgrimo ("Pilgrimage"). Budapest: Fenikso, 1990. 136 p. Poetry.
Baghy's best collection of poetry, in a new edition.
- *Baghy, Julio:
Preter la Vivo ("Beyond Life"). Budapest: Fenikso, 1990. 156 p.
Poetry. Baghy's poetic debut. The new edition.
- *Baghy, Julio:
Sur Sanga Tero ("On Bloody Ground"). Budapest: Fenikso, 1990. 256p.
Novel. The chaotic and bloody birth of the Soviet state, from the point
of view of a Hungarian POW in Siberia. Reprinted.
- *Baghy, Julio:
Viktimoj ("Victims"). Budapest: Fenikso, 1990. 212 p. Novel.
Autobiographical novel of the lives of captives, guards and local people
in Siberia during World War I. Seventh edition.
- *Boulton, Marjorie:
Eroj ("Items"). La Laguna: J. Régulo, 1955. 286 p. Poetry.
- Boulton, Marjorie:
Okuloj ("Eyes"). La Laguna: J. Régulo, 1967. 177 p. Short prose.
Idoj de Orfeo ("Children of Orpheus"). Den Haag: 1923. 542 p. Novel. This
classic novel is, I understand, currently (late 1997) being prepared for reprinting.
- *Engholm, Stellan:
Homoj Sur la Tero ("Men On the Earth"). Budapest: Literatura Mondo, 1932.
201 p. Novel. This is the second edition, published in the early sixties by
J. Régulo. The intermediate reader might enjoy Engholm's Torento trilogy:
Infanoj en Torento ("Children in Torento"), Junuloj en Torento ("Young People
in Torento"), and Vivo Vokas ("Life Calls"); and, if he can find a copy,
Engholm's translation of Selma Lagerlöf's Gösta Berling.
- *Forge, Jean:
Mr. Tot Aĉetas Mil Okulojn ("Mr. Tot Buys a Thousand Eyes"). Budapest:
Literatura Mondo, 1934. 243 p. Novel. The current edition was
published in Finland by Fondumo Esperanto.
- Francis, John:
La Granda Kaldrono ("The Great Caldron"). Antwerp: TK/Stafeto, 1978.
592 p. This massive social novel about life in Glasgow between the wars
is remembered by the connoisseur, with no great pleasure, for having
provided one of the first indications of the growth of the Esperanto
literary market in the early 1980's; printed in only 1000 copies, it
sold out far sooner than anyone expected ...
- *Francis, John:
Vitralo ("Stained-Glass Window"). La Laguna: J. Régulo, 1960. 135 p.
Short prose. A collection of Francis's semi-fantastic and surrealistic
- *Giŝpling, Mikaelo:
El sisma zono ("From an Earthquake Zone"). Antwerp: Flandra Esperanto-Ligo, 1994. 109 p.
A really excellent collection of poetry, largely about or inspired by, the fall of the USSR by a relatively new Russian Esperantist author. You can get a taste of the book from his Kanto pri Donkiĥotoj.
- *Goodheir, Albert:
Merlo sur menhiro ("Blackbird on a Menhir"). Scotland: Kardo. ? p.
Goodheir's poetry, much of it pre-reminiscent of the modern Celtic Revival, deserves
note. You'll find one of his poems, Dek nordaj strofoj, on an accompanying page to this appendix.
- Hohlov, N.: La Tajdo
("The Tide"). Heroldo de Esperanto, 1928. 61 p. Poetry.
- *Kalocsay, Kálmán:
Streĉita Kordo ("Taut String"). Budapest: Literatura Mondo, 1931. 189 p.
Poetry. Arguably the second most important book in the history of Esperanto
(see chapter 9). The currently available edition is from Artur E Iltis.
- *Kock, Edwin de:
Fajro Sur Mia Lango ("Fire on My Tongue"). La Laguna: J. Régulo, 1967.
119 p. Poetry.
- *Kurzens, Nikolai:
Mia Spektro ("My Spectre"). Budapest: Literatura Mondo, 1938. 64 p. Poetry.
The current edition was published by a small group of Esperantists in Toronto.
- *Lorjak: Regulus.
Ascoli Piceno: Eldono Gabrielli, 1981. 340 p. Novel.
- *Luyken, Heinrich A.:
Pro Iŝtar ("For Ishtar"). Leipzig: Ferdinand Hirt & Sohn, 1924. 304 p.
Remarkably enough, the edition currently available is the original one.
However, since the book has appeared in Auld's list, I expect it to sell
out fairly rapidly.
- *Matthias, Ulrich:
Fajron sentas mi interne ("I Feel a Fire Within").
?. ? p.
An autobiographical novel about a teenager's introduction to the Esperanto
movement. I think that this one is also available on-line.
- *Maura, G. E.:
Duonvoĉe ("With Half a Voice"). La Laguna: J. Régulo, 1963 (2nd expanded
edition). 179 p. Poetry.
- *Miĥalski, Eŭgeno:
Plena poemaro ("Complete poetic works"). Antwerp: Flandra Esperanto-Ligo, 1994. 176 p.
Poetry by a seminal Esperantist poet of the twenties. In a previous version of the
list, only his "Prologo" was included, but this new version contains all his poetry. You can read an essay about Miĥalski and his work on the Web.
- *Miyamoto Masao:
Invit' al Japanesko ("Invitation to the Japanesque"). La Laguna: J. Régulo,
1971. 110 p. Poetry.
- *Miyamoto Masao:
Naskitaj Sur la Ruino -- Okinavo ("Okinawa: Born in the Ruins").
Oosaka: Librejo Pirato, 1976. 146 p. An autobiographical novel.
- *Montagut, Abel:
Poemo de Utnoa ("A Poem of Ut-Noah").
Vienna: Pro Esperanto, 1993. 225 p. Epic poem about the Great Flood of Biblical and Babylonian myth.
- *Nemere, István:
Sur Kampo Granita ("On a Granite Field"). Budapest: Hungara Esperanto-Asocio,
1983. 125 p. Novel. The current edition is the second.
- *Neves, Fernandez, Kamaĉo, Valén:
Ibere Libere ("Freely in Iberia"). Vienna: Pro Esperanto, n.d. 136 p. Like "Kvaropo", the introductory
poetic work of four poets of a new "Iberian" school (from Spain and Portugal).
- *Newell, L. N.:
Bakŝiŝ ("Baksheesh"). Budapest: Literatura Mondo, 1938. 149 p. Novel.
The current edition is from Artur E Iltis in Germany.
- *Oşlak, Vinko:
Jen la sablo de mia klepsidro ("This is the Sand from my Hourglass").
Vienna: Pro Esperanto, 1991. 204 p. A central European (Slovenia) political diary from the period 1983-1986.
- *Peneter, Peter:
("Secret Sonnets"). Budapest: Konfidencie, 1931. 95 p.
Erotic poetry. Currently available as part of the Libro de Amo ("Book of Love")
from Artur E Iltis.
- *Piĉ, Karolo:
La Litomiŝla Tombejo ("The Graveyard at Litomyshl"). Saarbrucken: Artur
E Iltis, 1981. Novel. Controversial for its approach to the question of
neologisms, but stylistically very well done.
- *Privat, Edmond:
Tra l' Silento ("Through the Silence"). Geneva: 1912. 29 p. Poetry.
It has recently been reincarnated in a special edition from Pro Esperanto
- *Ragnarsson, Baldur:
Ŝtupoj Sen Nomo ("Steps Without Name"). La Laguna: J. Régulo, 1959. 127 p.
Poetry. One poem from this book is available here.
- Ribillard, Jean:
Vivo kaj Opinioj de Majstro M' Saud ("Life and Opinions of Master M' Saud").
La Laguna: J. Regulo, 1963. 143 p. The world as seen by a North African donkey. There are two samples of M' Saud's philosophy and experiences available on-line, here and here.
- Robinson, Kenelm:
Se Grenereto ... ("If a Tiny Grain ... ") London: 1930. 158 p.
- *Rossetti, Cezaro:
Kredu Min, Sinjorino! ("Believe Me, Lady!") Scheveningen: Heroldo de Esperanto,
1950. 259 p. Novel. Reprinted by SAT in Britain, 1974, and by Edistudio in
Italy, 1990, this has to be one of Esperanto's most popular and enduring novels,
and is a favorite with advanced students because of its vigorous, conversational
style. It has been translated into several other languages. Incidentally, a
missing comma in the title on the cover of earlier reprints causes a hilarious
change of meaning ...
- Rossetti, Reto:
El la Maniko ("Out of the Sleeve"). La Laguna: J. Régulo, 1955. 221 p.
Short prose. The current edition is from Artur E Iltis in Germany.
- *Rossetti, Reto:
Pinta Krajono ("Pointed Pencil"). La Laguna: J. Régulo, 1959. 128 p.
- *Rossetti, R.;
Szilagyi, F. (editors): 33 Rakontoj: La Esperanta Novelarto ("33 Tales:
The Esperanto Art of the Short Story"). La Laguna: J. Régulo, 1964. 328 p.
- *Sadler, Victor:
Memkritiko ("Self-Criticism"). Copenhagen: KoKo, 1967. 60 p. Poetry.
- *Schwartz, Raymond:
Kiel Akvo de l' Rivero ("As Water From the River"). La Laguna: J. Regulo,
1963. 487 p. Novel. The current edition is from Edistudio.
- Schwartz, Raymond:
La Stranga Butiko ("The Strange Shop"). Paris: Esperantista Centra Librejo,
1931. 127 p. Poetry. A more recent edition from Denmark is also out of print.
- *Schwartz, Raymond:
Verdkata Testamento ("Testament of the Green Cat"). Paris: Centra Librejo
Esperantista, 1926. 128 p. Poetry. The available version is a Danish reprint
of the 1930 second edition.
- *Schwartz, Raymond:
Vole ... novele (Untranslatable). Copenhagen: TK, 1971. 192 p. Short stories. You can sample Schwartz's short stories in Sinjorino Obermüller (Mrs. Obermueller), Ĉe l' entombigo de l' povra Aleksandro (At Poor Alexander's Burial), and La puto de Paupelèche (The Well of Paupeleche).
- *Steele, Trevor:
Sed nur fragmento ("But Only a Fragment"). Chapecó: Fonto, 1989(?).
? p. A semi-biographical novel about the adventures of a Russian anthropologist in Australia
and New Guinea of the late 19th century.
- *Su, Armand:
Poemoj de Armand Su ("Poems of Armand Su"). ?.
? p. Poetry by a Chinese Esperantist poet whose career was unfortunately and abruptly cut
short by the Cultural Revolution.
- *Szathmari, Sandor:
Vojaĝo al Kazohinio ("A Journey to Kazohinia" -- published in English under the
title Kazohinia). Paris: SAT, 1958. 315 p. Novel. There is some argument
over whether Szathmari originally wrote this Gulliver pastiche in Esperanto
and translated it into Hungarian, or vice versa. A Hungarian edition was
published firstbut apparently only because prewar plans for an Esperanto
edition were cut short because of the outbreak of hostilities. The English
translation, published by the Hungarian state publishing house, is out of print.
- *Szilagyi, Ferenc:
Koko Krias Jam! ("A Cock is Crying!") La Laguna: J. Régulo, 1955. 225 p.
Short stories. Another book on HEA's let's-reprint-it list for 1989.
- *Szilagyi, Ferenc:
La Granda Aventuro ("The Great Adventure"). Budapest: Hungara Esperanto-Asocio,
1988. 143 p. Novel. Ditto.
- *Ŝirjaev, Ivan:
Sen Titolo ("Untitled"). Vienna: Pro Esperanto, 1995. 336 p. This novel about the life of an initiate in the Esperanto movement is arguably the first novel ever written in Esperanto, though the manuscript gathered dust for about a century before publication..
- *Ŝtimec, Spomenka:
Ombro sur interna pejzaĝo ("Shadow on Inner Landscape").
?. ? p. Autobiographical novel about a woman recovering from the end of a love affair.
- *Tarkony, Lajos:
Soifo ("Thirst"). La Laguna: J. Regulo, 1964. 231 p. Poetry.
- *Toth, Endre:
Lappar, la Antikristo ("Lappar, the Anti-Christ"). Budapest: Hungara
Esperanto-Asocio, 1982. 137 p. Short stories. Toth showed signs of
becoming one of Esperanto's leading short-story authors before his untimely
death in the early eighties. You can read one of Toth's stories here.
- *Ungar, Krys:
Meznokto metropola ("Metropolitan Midnight"). ?. ? p.
Poetry by a recent Esperantist poetess.
- *Urbanová, Eli:
Hetajro dancas ("A Hetaira Dances"). Chapecó: Fonto, ?. ? p.
A poetic cycle by a Czech Esperantist poetess.
- *Varankin, Vladimir:
Metropoliteno ("The Underground" -- English edition published under the original
Esperanto title). Moscow: Progreso, 1992. 247 p. A novel about a Soviet engineer and the building of the Berlin underground in the late 1920s.
The above list consists of works that have been written originally in Esperanto. No one has, to my knowledge, made a list of translated works that are worth reading. I've mentioned my favorites elsewhere, but here they are again:
Lagerlöf, Selma: Gösta Berling. A novel about life in the Swedish countryside shortly after the turn of the 19th century; strong characterizations, good plotting, some fantasy. You can find a sample chapter ("Kevenhüller") on-line.
Vazov, Ivan: Sub la jugo ("Under the Yoke"). A novel about the abortive 1878 rebellion by the Bulgarian people against their Turkish overlords.
Petöfi Sándor: Libero kaj amo ("Freedom and Love"). A collection of poetry by Hungary's national poet, translated by Kálmán Kalocsay. The sixth verse of Petöfi's "Eŭropo mutas" ("Europe Is Silent") satsfies Housman's criterion of what constitutes great poetry (at least for me) by making the hair stand up on your arms as you read it.
Yang Mo: Kanto de juneco ("A Song of Youth"). About the life of a young woman in pre-war China.
Tuglas, F: Kvin noveloj ("Five Short Stories"). Primarily fantasies, by the Estonian writer Friedebert Tuglas. You can find his "Miraĝo" ("Mirage") on-line, as well as a review of the book.
A more objective list would certainly include the books that have, over the past four decades, been published in the series "Oriento-Okcidento" (East-West), which was inspired by a UNESCO program intended to make the literatures of different cultures more accessible to each other. So far, the series consists of 35 works, all but one of them translated from other languages. These are:
Alighieri, Dante: La dia komedio ("The Divine Comedy"). This huge, boxed volume contains all three books of the "Comedy" in a translation from the original Italian by Giovanni Peterlongo which is not totally satisfying; e.g., Peterlongo does not use the original terza rima scheme for each triplet. Purists may prefer Kalocsay's translation of the Inferno, which does remain faithful to the original scheme, as does Dondi's (hopefully forthcoming) translation of the Purgatorio.
Martinsson, Harry: Aniara. A modern Swedish epic poem about travelers in a lost spaceship, translated by Bertil Nilsson and William Auld.
1. Tagore, Rabindranath: Malsata ŝtono ("Hungry Stone"). A collection of seven of Tagore's short stories ("Hungry Stone", "The Return of Khoka-Babu", "Despair", "Cloud and Sun", "Kabuliwala", "The Skeleton", "The Guest"), translated from Bengalese by Lakshmiswar Sinha. Some of Tagore's poetry, for those interested, can be found in the volume Primico (not in this series), in translation by Dr. Probal Das Gupta.
2. Mori Oogai: Rakontoj de Oogai ("Stories of Oogai"). Four short stories by early-twentieth-century Japanese author Mori Rintaroo, under his better-known pen name: "The Takase Bark", "Sanshoo-dayuu", "The Commissioned Message" and "Abe's Relatives", as translated by various Japanese Esperantist authors.
3. Sartre, Jean-Paul: La naŭzo ("Nausea"). French author Sartre's seminal work of extistentialism.
4. Kalevala. The Finnish national epic, translated by Joh. Edv. Leppäkoski, perhaps best known to Americans as the inspiration for Longfellow's "The Song of Hiawatha", which -- astonishingly! -- in this translation retains the original's typical meter and alliteration.
5. Hernández, José: Martín Fierro. Ernesto Sonnenfeld's translation of an epic poem of the 19th century about the life of a gaucho on the Argentine pampas.
6. Shakespeare, William: Reĝo Lear ("King Lear"). Shakespeare's famous story of the mad king, here translated by Hungarian author Kálmán Kalocsay, who also translated (outside this series) The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
7. Ihara Saikaku: Kvin virinoj de amoro ("Five Women of Love"). Five love stories ("Onatu and Seizyuuroo", "Osen and Tyoozaemon", "Osan and Moemon", "Ositi and Kitisaburoo", "Oman and Gengobee") from the early Tokugawa era in Japan, translated by Miyamoto Masao.
8. Baudelaire, Charles: La spleno de Parizo ("The Paris Blues"). A collection of (prose) descriptions of life in Paris by the famous French poet (whose poetic works can be found, outside this series, in La floroj de l' malbono ("The Flowers of Evil")). This translation is by Paul Lobut.
9. Tanizaki zyun'iutiro: El la vivo de Syunkin ("From the Life of Syunkin"). Two short plays ("Okuni and Gohei" and "Mumyoo and Aizen") and two novellettes ("Boys" and "From the Life of Syunkin") by a 20th-century Japanese author, in translation by Isiguro Teruhiko and Miyamoto Masao.
10. La Nobla Korano ("The Noble Koran"). The holy book of Islam, with the Arabic original and Dr. Italo Chiussi's Esperanto translation in parallel columns.
11. Kawabata Yasunari: Neĝa lando ("Snow Country"). Konisi Gaku's translation of a novel by Japan's first literary Nobel Laureate.
12. Chiussi, Italo: Je la flanko de l' Profeto ("At the Prophet's Side"). The only book in the series originally written in Esperanto, a biography of Islam's greatest (and final) prophet, Mohammed.
13. Ibsen, Henrik: Brand. Famous drama by the 19th-century Norwegian playwright, here translated by Erling Anker Haugen. Others of Ibsen's plays have been translated into Esperanto, most notably Peer Gynt, also by Haugen; it appeared a few years too early to be included in this series, however.
14. de Camöes, Luís: La Luzidoj ("The Lusiads"). Portuguese national epic about the voyage of Vasco da Gama around Africa to India, here translated by Leopoldo H. Knoedt.
15. Krilov, Ivan Andrejevich: Elektitaj fabloj ("Chosen Fables"). 182 fables in verse by this Russian successor to Aesop and la Fontaine, translated by Sergei Rublov.
16. Shakespeare, William: The Sonnets / La Sonetoj. A complete collection of Shakespeare's sonnets in Esperanto guise (along with the English originals), in translation by William Auld. This book made Shakespeare the only author to be included in this series twice!
17. Kalocsay, Kálmán: Tutmonda sonoro ("A Global Peal of Bells"). This two-volume set contains Kalocsay's translations (or, in some cases, reworkings in verse) of stories and poems from a number of different languages and cultures throughout history, ranging from part of the epic of Gilgamesh to modern Vietnamese poetry.
18. Sekelj, Tibor: Elpafu la sagon ("Shoot the Arrow"). Sekelj's presentation of approximately 150 poems taken from the oral traditions of a number of what we today call "indigenous" cultures around the world.
19. von Goethe, Johann Wolfgang: La suferoj de la juna Werther ("The Sorrows of the Young Werther"). Reinhard Haupenthal's presentation of Goethe's story of the degeneration of a lovestruck young man, to the point of suicide. WARNING: the vocabulary used by Haupenthal is far from standard, and at times the Esperanto verges on the incomprehensible. I sometimes wonder why this particular work was selected for this series, when a number of other more deserving ones (see below) were not.
20. Inoue Yasushi: Loulan. Two Japanese historical novellas, translated by Miyamoto Masao, about life in China's wild "Western region" early in the first millenium A.D. You can find a review on-line.
21. Yeh Chun-chan: Montara vilaĝo ("Mountain Village"). A wartime novel by a well-known Chinese author of the middle 20th century, translated from the original English (!) by William Auld.
22. Mickiewicz, Adam: S-ro Tadeo ("Mr. Thaddeus"). An epic Polish poem of the 19th century about the last armed insurrection in Poland after the partitioning of that country at the end of the 18th century. This is Antoni Grabowski's classic translation into Esperanto.
23. García Lorca, Federico: Sanga nupto kaj La domo de Bernard Alba ("Bloody Wedding and Bernard Alba's House"). Two plays by Spain's best-known 20th century romantic poet, translated by Miguel Fernández.
24. Erasmus of Rotterdam: Laŭdo de stulteco ("Praise of Folly"). Gerrit Berveling's translation of this important philosophical essay from the 16th century.
25. Towsey, Allan (editor): Aŭstralia antologio ("Australian Anthology"). A collection of short stories and poems from two centuries of Australian literature. On-line, you can find from the book two poems, both by A. J. "Banjo" Paterson: "Waltzing Matilda" and "The Man from Snowy River".
26. Bulgakov, Mikhail: La majstro kaj Margarita ("The Master and Margarita"). The famous 20th-century Russian novel, translated here by Sergei Pokrovskij.
27. García Márquez, Gabriel: Cent jaroj da soleco ("A Hundred Years of Solitude"). Also known in the English-speaking world, this novel by the Colombian Nobel Laureate was translated by Fernando de Diego.
28. Dostojevskij, Fjodor: Krimo kaj puno ("Crime and Punishment"). 19th century Russian author Dostojevskij's study of the emotional decline of the young murderer Raskolnikov, translated by Andrej Parfentjev.
29. Gangopaddhae, Upendronath: Klera edzino ("An Educated Wife"). A novel about the last days of the British Raj in India, translated from the Bengali by Probal Das Gupta.
30. Berveling, Gerrit: Latina antologio ("Latin Anthology"). A two-volume selection of prose and poetry from the language spoken in the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire.
31. Kafka, Franz: La metamorfozo ("The Metamorphosis"). The Czech author's most famous story, about the man who turns into a giant insect. This translation, by Mauro Nervi, is one of three that have appeared in the last half decade, the others by Wilhelm Lutterman and Reinhard Haupenthal.
32. Gogol, Nikolai: Malvivaj animoj ("Dead Souls"). First volume of a projected but never completed trilogy, now considered one of the great Russian novels of the 19th century, translated into Esperanto by Vladimir Vyĉegĵanin.
33. Grass, Günter: La lada tambureto ("The Tin Drum"). Tomasz Chmielik's translation of the famous German novel about life in Danzig Free City by the 1999 Nobel Laureate.
34. Polo, Marko: La libro de la mirindaĵoj ("The Book of Wonders"). Rustichello's ghost-written work about Marco Polo's journey to the Orient, the book that made the East famous, translated by Daniel Moirand.
35. Shi Nai'an and Luo Guanzhong: Ĉe akvorando ("At the Water's Edge"). One of the great Chinese classical novels, this three-volume set is the Chinese equivalent of Robin Hood, about the heroes of an insurrection during the Song Dynasty. In the English-speaking world it is commonly known as All Men Are Brothers in its translation by Pearl Buck (who, however, chose an abridged version to translate). This more complete Esperanto translation is by Li Shi-jun.
36. La Dharmo-pado ("The Dhammapada"). A major book of the Buddhist religion, collecting 423 sutras, translated from Pali by Gunnar Gällmo.
37. Kertész, Imre: Sensorteco ("Fatelessness"). A novel about the holocaust by the recent Nobel Laureate, translated from Hungarian by István Ertl.
38. Hašek, Jaroslav: Aventuroj de la brava soldato Švejk dum la mondmilito ("Adventures of the Good Soldier Švejk In the World War"). A great but perhaps irreverent war novel about the First World War, translated from Czech by Vladimír Vaňa.
39. Saint Paul: Leteroj de Paŭlo kaj lia skolo ("Letters from Paul and His School"). The various epistles of St. Paul, from the Bible, here broken down by definite authenticity, possible authenticity, and letters probably written by disciples of Paul, a new translation from the Greek by Gerrit Berveling.
40. A. S. Puŝkin: Eŭgeno Onegin ("Eugene Onegin"). Famous opera in verse, translated from Russian by Valentin Melnikov.
It's not always clear how works are chosen for this series. Of the first 27 works in the series, only one -- Krilov's Elektitaj Fabloj ("Chosen Fables") was from Russia; but of the last 13, three have originated in Russia, largely thanks to the hard work of Halina Gorecka, Aleksandr Korĵenkov and their publishing house Sezonoj. China, in particular, has been heavily underrepresented; the one Chinese work included here, until "At the Water's Edge" was published in 2004, was actually written originally in English! (The author, Yeh Junjian, who edited the English-French magazine Chinese Literature, wrote in several languages; his earliest works, in fact, were written in Esperanto!) But there have been a number of works from China that have merited inclusion, starting with the Noveloj de Lusin ("Short Stories by Lusin"), a collection of short stories by China's (and arguably the world's) greatest 20th century prose author, and ranging down to, most recently, Xie Yuming's three-volume translation of the classic romance Ruĝdoma sonĝo ("Dream of the Red Chamber"). Similarly, Tolkien's Mastro de la ringoj ("Lord of the Rings"), also recently available in Esperanto (and published by Sezonoj, mentioned above), should be included, but wasn't. On the other hand, I myself would have considered Chiussi's Je la flanko de la Profeto and Haupenthal's rendering of Goethe's La suferoj de la juna Werther as suitable for exclusion, for quite different reasons, but apparently others do not agree with this viewpoint.
If the United States is not represented in this series (and it isn't), that's probably the fault of U.S. Esperanto speakers, this author included, who have failed to produce translations of those works of genuine merit produced by Americans (e.g., Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn).
This document is owned by:
Don Harlow <firstname.lastname@example.org>