The story of a traveling salesman walking to find himself transformed into a monstrous verminous bug – Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis – is now available in Bikol language. One of the seminal works of world fiction of the 20th century, it was published under the title The Awakening of Gregor Samsa (An Pagkagimata ni Gregor Samsa) as a part of a larger programme to promote the world and Philippine literature to native Bikolano readers.
Its translator, Kristian Sendon Cordero, considers the “translation of Kafka in the Bikol language as a living proof that literature remains to be the best bridge between cultures,“ and adds that “indeed, the story of Gregor Samsa has allowed our local languages to metamorphose into a language that can awaken us from our darkest nights, our deepest slumber.“
While widely available in the Philippines in English translation, Kafka´s The Metamorphosis (Die Verwandlung in original German) was translated into Filipino only last year courtesy of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino. This year opens with the books launching in the Bikol language. This translation will surely open new opportunities for the Bikol language to continue to relate with the world of literature and its translator, Kristian Sendon Cordero, who is committed to bring more world writers to Bikol, follows the footsteps of his Bikolnon predecessors like Francisco Gainza, Sali Imperial, Sr., Wilmer Tria, Frank Penones, Jr., who have impressively navigated the treacherous seas of translation.
Franz Kafka, born into a middle-class German-speaking Jewish family in Czech capital city of Prague, is an author of dozens of short stories and a few unfinished novels which were mostly published after his premature death at the age of 40. All of his works became part of world literary heritage and Kafka become one of the most prominent names among writers of so-called German literature of Prague—those who have been born there but lived elsewhere, such as poet Rainer Maria Rilke; those who settled there for a long period time and made Prague with its mysteries and Gothic charm a topic of their writing, such as Gustav Meyrink in his famous novel The Golem, and „avid reporter“ Egon Erwin Kisch.
“Though Franz Kafka wrote all his famous works in German, he spoke and wrote Czech and lived virtually all his life in his hometown Prague. He was and still is an integral part of Czech cultural and literary life “ said Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Jaroslav Olša, jr. at the book launching at Ateneo de Naga university last weekend.
To help to learn more about life of Franz Kafka and understand his writing, as well as to learn more about Czech Republic´s capital Prague where he lived, an exhibition entitled “Franz Kafka and Prague” was simultaneously opened at Fr James O’Brien, SJ Library by both the Czech Ambassador and the President of Ateneo de Naga University, Primitivo Viray, Jr.