Monday, March 19, 2007
Louis Adamic (1898-1951)
One hundred years ago,on 23 March 1898,a third child was born to peasant parents at Praproce Castle near Grosuplje of Slovenia.Lojz received his education in Grosuplje and Ljubljana.It was a time of student demostrations.The Austrian army shot Rudolf Lunder and Ivan Adamic,his relative.When Lojz was expelled from school at the age of fifteen,he emigrated to the United States of America.He started as a worker at the newspaper Glas naroda(The Voice of People) and soon rose to be a reporter.He spent World War I as a volunteer in the American army in Europe.After the war he traveled around the United States of America and the Far East.He attracted a lot of public attention with his book Dynamite(1931) which is still considered to be a textbook of the class fights in the USA.The next year he published the book Laughing in the Jungle and was a awarded a Guggenheim prize for it.Thus Louis Adamic won recognition in the USA as a writer,editor,translator and a versatile politically engaged and publicly active person.His work,writing about the problems of the time in America and in Slovenia, and particularly his support of the Yugoslav partisan movement brought him many new friends and dangerous opponents.
He returned to his old homeland twice.In 1932 Adamic became acquainted with the writers and progressive movement in Slovenia and proceeded against King Alexander's dictatorial regime with his book The Native's Return.The book was prohibited in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia immediately after its publication in 1934.During World WarⅡhe interceded as the honorary president of the Slovene-American National council(SANS) with the American administration and President Roosevelt for the Slovene National Liberation Struggle.After the war in 1949,he visited his homeland again.This time to find out more about the reality of the new Socialist republic of Yugoslavia.The fruit of his research work was a book The Eagle and Roots. It was because of this book that he was most likely shot by his enemies on 4 September 1951.The book was published in the USA posthumously in 1952.In the Slovene language,the book entitled Ore in korenine in the Slovene translation appeared only in 1970,eighteen years after the publication of the English original.Adamic's objective writing did not suit purposes of authority expecting praises.
His work has been translated into several other languages.The centenary of his birth will be commemorated by the publication of three Adamic's books in the Japanese languages.Laughing in the Jungle,Lucas King of balucas and Struggle(1935).The French translation of Laughing in the Jungle(Le rire dans la jungle) is still waiting for a publisher.
By Dr.Tine Kurent
From Prof.Tine Kurent
MESSAGE TO THE SHOZO TAHARA GROUP COMMEMORATING THE LOUIS ADAMIC CENTENARY
Dear Shozo, thank you for the information that you are preparing a party in honor of your translations-with the Commemoration of the Centenary of Birth of Louis Adamic at the beginning of November.
Louis Adamic was born one century ago in Slovenia. As a young boy, he emigrated to the USA. He started as a worker and rose to be an internationally known Slovenian immigrant writer who had popularized the concept of America as a Nation of Nations, which led the way to the official Congressional definition of America as a pluralistic society, in 1972.Before that, the America elite, known as WASP, that is White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, regarded immigrants from other countries of Europe and Asia as second class citizens. The theory of America as a "Melting Pot" was intended to "Americanize" only the white newcomers but not the colored, native Indians, Afro-Americans, Mexicans, immigrants from Asia, China, Phillippines and Japan. Adamic knew the oppression, germanization and italianization in his native country and opposed with his writing the social injustice, ethnic tensions and racial discrimination in the USA.
The Harvard Encyclopedia of America Ethnic Groups stars its Introduction with the statement that
"During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Louis Adamic, a popular writer and journalist, conceived of a project that he believed 'would excite all America about herself.' A' great Encyclopedia of the Population of the United States, from the Indians down to the latest immigrant group, 'would demonstrate 'in as great detail as possible, of what sort of human stuff America is made.' Such work, he wrote, 'might very well revolutionize American writing and affect all thinking about the United States. 'It' would be invaluable to thousands of...school principals and teachers...and librarians and social workers. In would appeal not only to New Americans and their immigrant parents...but to America as a whole'(My America,1938).
"Adamic himself had emigrated from Slovenia (then a province of Austro-Hungary, later part of Yugoslavia, now the sovereign state Republic of Slovenia) at the age of fourteen, and throughout his life displayed intense interest in the origins of the American people. But, unfortunately, he could not raise the funds he needed from the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and had to give up the idea of the encyclopedia.
"Forty years later, this project was well under way when the editors saw a copy of the Adamic proposal. We were intrigued by what Adamic had wanted to undertake. He had envisaged a work of five to twenty-five volumes, a huge budget, and a staff of hundreds. The enterprise of which this volume is a product was modest in comparison. However, it processed on the basis of the article of faith with which he concluded:' But eventually, I think, this job will have to be done-somehow.'
Dear Shozo, you are continuing the work envisaged by Adamic. You have been the first in Japan to understand the work envisaged by Adamic. With your translations, notably his The Native's Return, From Many Lands, A Young American with a Japanese Face-to name but a few-you are introducing Adamic, his ideas and his native Slovenia to the Japanese readers.
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