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Colombia – The Colombian Gabriel García Márquez is the author most translated from Spanish into other languages, above Cervantes, if the period between 2000 and 2021 is taken into account, according to the first World Translation Map of the Cervantes Institute. RFI interviewed Martín Gómez, a Colombian publisher in Madrid who has worked as a delegate for Colombia’s Instituto Caro y Cuervo at the Instituto Cervantes in Madrid.
R.F.I. According to the first World Translation Map of the Cervantes Institute revealed by El País, the Colombian Nobel Prize winner is the author most translated from Spanish into other languages if the first 20 years of this century are taken into account. Does it surprise you?
Martin Gomez. No, it is a result that does not arouse major surprises because García Márquez is an author who has enormous prestige in the literary, editorial and academic fields. But he is also a very popular author because he is widely translated, widely published, widely read and highly appreciated by readers. This is due in large part to the fact that his work has a great capacity to connect with the sensitivity of different types of readers, regardless of their cultural background, their geographical origin and their mother tongue. In addition, since his work is very complex, he also admits different levels of reading. It can be read from a key proper to high culture, but also from other levels, which may be more linked to popular culture, personal sensibilities. It is a work that has a lot of intermediate nuances in terms of reading levels.
R.F.I. What you point out is a very rare achievement in literature. It is an aspect in which García Márquez is very similar to Cervantes, an author who has also been read by a cultured public and a popular public.
Martin Gomez. Yes of course. Let’s not forget that Cervantes at the time did not pretend to be a cultured author. To write a very important part of his work, Cervantes draws heavily from the popular literary tradition of his time. Chivalric novels were popular works. It is with the passage of time that Cervantes becomes a classic figure of letters, not only Hispanic, but also universal. Let’s not forget that he was the founder of the novel as a literary genre.
R.F.I. In any case, Cervantes beats Gabo, and by far, if titles from 1950 are chosen, that is, if we consider the works translated into Spanish in the second half of the 20th century, not just the first 20 years of our century. There Don Quixote has no rival. But, do you think that in a few years Gabo can, despite everything, break that trend?
Martin Gomez. No, I doubt that trend will break. Especially since Cervantes is a canonical author. His work is part of the Hispanic and universal canon. This makes it a widely read work in the academic and school world. Numerous popular editions adapted to the language of the time are published. Additionally, unlike the work of García Márquez, that of Cervantes is in the public domain. That is, you do not have to pay royalties for publishing it. Although you do have to pay royalties to the translator who is in charge of a new version. On the other hand, the work of García Márquez will be protected by the copyright regime. If García Márquez died in 2014, I would say that it is protected more or less until the year 2085. So this makes it, in some ways, easier for Cervantes to continue translating in a more fluid way than García Márquez. I insist that the roots and impact of Cervantes’ work is greater due to a matter of canon. In this aspect, the roots of Spanish are much greater than that of Colombian. This is a natural consequence because Cervantes has been a classic for almost five centuries while García Márquez is a contemporary classic.
original text of R.F.I.
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