World History – 03/28
You wanted to tell us about a literary victory this morning…
The absolute – and somewhat painful – victory of the great Colombian writer who died in 2014, Gabriel García Márquez. He has become the most translated Spanish-language author in the world and it is the Cervantes Institute that says so thanks to an unpublished card:
This institution responsible for disseminating and promoting Spanish literature throughout the world has developed WorldCat, an immense global catalog of published works containing more than 500 million bibliographic records in some 483 languages.
The result is a triumph for the Latin American authors of the “el boom” generation, those of the 60s and 70s: Gabriel García Márquez therefore, the Peruvian Vargas LLosa, the Mexican Carlos Fuentes or the Argentinian Borges. Cervantes is defeated!
Cervantes is beaten that much?
He even remains the most translated Spanish author of the last 8 decades! But it’s a consolation prize. The author of the first modern novel, Don Quixote, reigned supreme over Spanish-language literature for more than four centuries.
So here he is left behind: the village of Macondo and the Buendía de García Márquez family have dethroned the knight with the sad face of Cervantes. This is even more obvious if we restrict the scope of the study to the last 20 years:
Among the 10 most translated Spanish-language authors, we find of course García Márquez in number one, followed by Isabel Allende and Borges. Only 4 authors are Spaniards, of which Cervantes of course is one of them.
What conclusions can be drawn ?
That there is clearly a handover between the two poles of Spanish. The “mother country” is ceding power to its former Latin American colonies, which today are the future of literature in the Castilian language.
It’s a real shock! Until recently, Madrid set the tone with its dictionary from the Royal Academy of Spain, with its powerful publishing houses which exported – and still export – to the new world and with its great classics.
Do we know the most widely read Spanish language author in France?
According to this “translation map”, it is the Franco-Chilean Alejandro Jodorowsky who comes first in French translations over the past 20 years. In Italy, it is the Spaniard Vázquez Montalbán and his detective Pepe Carvalho who wins the bet.
Still, the Latin American victory over Spain is very logical: 90% of the 500 million Spanish speakers live in the New World. The same process is also affecting the French, since France is no longer the first French-speaking country in the world:
It is now up to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its nearly 100 million inhabitants to lead French language and literature into the future.