Feathers / Plumoj & Esperanto (4)

Beʾer, Haim. Feathers [Notsot]; translated from the Hebrew by Hillel Halkin. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press; Hanover: University Press of New England, 2004. xiii, 235 pp.

Another excerpt / Jen plua cerpaĵo el la anglalingva traduko (p. 135-6):

Esperanto in a Lynkean State?
(Ĉu Esperanto Kiel Oficiala Lingvo de Lynkea Ŝtato?)

Leder heard the old man out with uncharacteristic patience, then casually inquired whether he had ever heard of Popper-Lynkeus’ inventions in the field of aeronautics. With a smile Havkin answered that not only was he familiar with the biography of that unhappy and disappointment-fraught Jewish-Viennese genius, he was also well versed in his social and economic views. Indeed, there had been a time when The Necessity for General Nutrition had never left his side.

“Don’t you think it should be translated into Esperanto?” queried Leder, who had never dreamed of such luck.

“It’s a book of the highest importance,” Havkin agreed, “a must for any Esperanto library.” Unfortunately, however, the Esperantists had been unable to find the right man for the job.

“Ecce homo!” Leder cried, pointing to himself with childish glee. Waving the green primer, he declared that he was now engaged in studying Esperanto from morning till night and was sure that he could finish a sample chapter from Popper-Lynkeus’ great work in several weeks’ time.

Havkin threw his arms around his guest in a comradely embrace. Did Leder’s decision, he wondered, have anything to do with his own appearance at Greenberg’s bookbindery earlier that week?

Afterward, while we sat on the concrete patio in front of Havkin’s house looking at the mountain ridges falling away in waves to the coastal plain and cracking almonds from the old man’s trees, Leder explained his proposal for a united front of Esperantists, vegetarians, and Lynkeans. The forces of good, he declared, should band together in the struggle for their goals, which were complementary rather than opposed.

“In the Lynkean state,” Leder announced, Esperanto will be the official language of the government, as well as of all schools and universities. The eating of meat and fish will be illegal. All slaughterhouses and butcher shops will be expropriated for the public good, and the slaughterers, butchers, and fishermen will be sent to special schools to be re-educated. Eggs and milk products will be sold only by special permit and will have to be eaten in private.”

The old man listened intently, making a sour face when Leder enthusiastically proclaimed that the portraits of Josef Popper-Lynkeus and Esperanto’s inventor Dr. Ludwig Zamenhoff, the two official state philosophers, would be hung in all public places.

“That reminds me too much of the pictures of Marx and Engels in the streets of Moscow,” Havkin said. In any case, he remarked, he was too old by now for such things. Leder, he added after a moment’s thought, could do worse than listen to someone like himself who had seen so many lofty ideals besmirched through their contact with politics. “Don't forget the story of Icarus, my young man. If they come too close to the glowing sun of political passion, both Lynkeanism and Esperantism will smash themselves to bits on the hard ground of reality.”

“Politics have nothing to do with it,” objected Leder, trying to point out Havkin’s error. But our elderly host only replied that he did not wish to spoil his Sabbath rest by losing his temper unnecessarily. If we were not in any hurry, he went on, he would be happy to welcome us inside his house and show us the one pastime of his otherwise Spartan existence.

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