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The Euskalema Association recently published a collection of poems in German and Basque by Aresti and Brecht

2012-05-18  ¦  .

The collection began with a number of poems that had already been translated

The Euskalema Association recently published a collection of poems entitled Poema hautatuak (Selected Poems). The book consists of twenty poems by writers Bertolt Brecht and Gabriel Aresti. Brecht’s work has been translated into Basque, and Aresti’s has been translated into German. A number of Aresti’s and Brecht’s poems had already been translated, but the Euskalema publishing house added several others to create this collection. They also refined the already existing translations.

“What we have published in the book Poema hautatuak (Selected Poems) is a critical edition. We have refined historic translations, going over the poems one by one. In some cases, it was clear that some poems had not been translated from the original German or Basque, and therefore, we made certain suggestions for translation,” explained Elena Martinez, a member of Euskalema. The historic translations can be found at the end of the book, following the newer versions, and the Basque and German versions are given side by side. Translator Petra Elser says they do not believe that their translations are better than the historic ones, and that they did not approach the work as one of correction. “We wanted to translate directly from the German and the Basque, without taking any detours. We realized that in some of the historic versions, some parts of the text were missing. We have published the poems in their entirety.”

Gabriel Aresti and Bertolt Brecht are two writers with little in common. Their linguistic, literary and sociopolitical contexts were extremely different. Nevertheless, as stated in the foreword of the book, the contributors to the collection have managed to deduce certain connections between the two. For example, although the two authors come from different traditions, both are left-wing intellectuals. This is the primary characteristic that bridges the gap between Aresti and Brecht. Thus, most of the topics that appear in the collection have to do with the social or political framework.