Ursula Le Guin & Sándor Szathmári

Ursula Le Guin (naskiĝis la 21-an de oktobro 1929), eminenta pioniro de feminisma sciencfikcio, ĵus mortis, la 22-an de januaro 2018. Mi republikigas kun permeso korespondaĵojn inter Paul Olchvary, usona eldonisto de la anglalingva traduko de Kazohinio, kaj Le Guin. Olchvary celis havigi el Le Guin tekstreklamon por la dorskovrilo de eldonota Kazohinia, sed ŝi decidis ne plenumi tiun peton.  Mia tekstreklamo inter aliaj troveblas en tiu eldonaĵo.

Pioneering feminist/anarchist science fiction writer Ursula Le Guin (October 21, 1929 – January 22, 2018) just died. My colleague Paul Olchvary, publisher of the American edition of the English translation of Voyage to Kazohinia, has given me permission to publicize his correspondence with Le Guin, reproduced below. Olchvary requested her to blurb Szathmári's novel, but as you can see, she declined. I accepted his invitation, and thus our collaboration began.

Paul Olchvary
January 23 at 10:31pm

My very own memory of Ursula Le Guin (October 21, 1929 – January 22, 2018): I never met her in person, but in 2012 I emailed her a blurb request for Inez Kemenes's fine translation of a Hungarian dystopian/utopian novel I was planning to publish, Sándor Szathmári's 1941 classic Voyage to Kazohina. I did so through her website and expected no reply. She replied. While in the end she declined, I was touched by her kindness in doing so. This was how our brief correspondence unfolded:

Dear Mr Olchvary,

I doubt that I'm the right person to send a 1941 satirical dystopia to, but I'm willing to find out--particularly if you would send me only the first chapter or two of Sandor Szathmari's book.

It is depressing to receive a whole novel, either electronically or on paper, and realise it's not going to be a book you want to read/blurb. Of course one can't always be certain from one chapter, but often one can; and in that case it is easier on everyone if the whole camel isn't already in the tent.

If I liked the camel's nose, of course I would invite the whole camel to come in. I went to Wikipedia but could find nothing there. However, it doesn't matter, as it is the book I would read and respond to, if I do--not to things written about the book.

Yours truly,
Ursula K. Le Guin

[I then offered to send her a printout, while pointing out that an unedited version was accessible online.]

Dear Mr Olchvary,

There is no reason why you should copy and send me the galleys, since I can access the book online. And since I have been warned, and will be reading fast and lightly, just to see whether this is a book I want to go on with, faults in the copy editing won't bother or delay me. If it seems likely that I might be able to write you cover copy for the book, I'll ask you to send it me the full text; if it does not seem likely, I will not ask you.

The painful part of being asked to provide a blurb comes when one, for any of a hundred reasons, cannot do it, and must say no.

If I can say yes, I will write you within the week.

If I can't, I won't--my camel will regretfully, but silently, retreat from your tent.


Yours truly,
Ursula Le Guin

[Finally, she wrote, referring to a note I'd forwarded to her from the translator....]

Dear Paul,

I am afraid my camel is too heavy laden at present even to try to get into the tent. I'm very sorry.

Thank you for the note from Inez, and my best wishes for calm seas and a prospering wind for the Voyage to Kazohinia.


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