After the Classics: A translation into English of the by Vicent Andrés Estellés

By Vicent Andrés Estellés

This feature of the verse of Valencian poet Vicent Andres Estelles (1924-1993) is observed by means of a translation into English from the unique Catalan. The structure of an leading edge discussion with classical authors — a cornerstone of Estellesian expression — constitutes an creative invocation and parodic observation at the output and ethos of the Latin poets Horace, Ovid, Virgil and Catullus, the medieval patriarch of Valencian letters Ausiàs March and the Renaissance Castilian poet, Garcilaso de l. a. Vega. For Estellés, Octavian Rome presents a parallel to the Franco dictatorship and the historic framework surrounding those writers gives the neophyte a chance for ideological denunciation, artistic wit and lyrical grace in addition to righteous anger on the oppressive pettiness of lifestyles less than autocracy. The translators have tried to convey to an Anglophone readership the wealth of feat of this author who, regardless of the severity of fascist repression, sang and celebrated the adventure of his personal neighborhood via its personal oppressed language.

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Sample text

Horacianes: after Horace xvii good morning, handful of water, comb, gillette, soap, toothpaste. good morning, normality or hostility of the weather, volume of shit i’ve eased out and observe. oh good morning, dear neighbour, back home from the market. this fine piece of shit, fragile and ripe, makes you want to invite the neighbours to dip their bread in it. just as shit slips away as you pull the chain, so too are fleeting the pleasures life holds in store: love and all that. we were born in shit and other similar comforts, and our last act or last testament will also be a gratuitous shit, a piece of piss.

Various critics have identified the execrable historian as José Ombuena, director of the local daily Las Provincias, who orchestrated the campaign of public vilification against Joan Fuster in 1963 and was later to see Estellés removed as editor the paper in 1978. This may well be the case though there is little doubt that the despicable personage also comes to represent the anti-Catalan sentiments of reactionary sectors of Valencian society as a whole. The diatribe against Suetonius is as shocking as it is abusive.

As such, from the start of the new century onwards, the industrial bourgeoisie took a leading role in the Catalanist movement which could also count on huge popular and middle-class support. Investing heavily in cultural recovery, the dominant elite financed the codification and standardisation of the language and, through sponsorship of literary production, ensured the implementation of the orthographic and grammatical norms which had been newly updated in 1913 and 1918 respectively. Thus, by the 1920s, Catalan which a century earlier had been a socially inferior patois – the exclusive preserve of the peasantry and proletariat exercised merely at the level of home and street – was to rise from the ashes to rival Spanish as the idiom of high 17 18 After the Classics culture in Catalonia, being used in government, education, business and the media: a status it had not enjoyed since 1714.

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