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The list of Croatian works of literature translated into Esperanto has grown enormously since 1912 when Fran Kolar Krom from Bjelovar first published August Šenoa’s The Goldsmith’s Treasure in Esperanto under the title Trezoro de l’oraĵisto in Zagreb. These are translations of works of literature into an international language constructed at the end of the nineteenth century according to the ideas of the Polish-born physician of Jewish origin, Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof (1859-1917). Today, the Esperanto-speaking community gathers in hundreds of clubs and associations in all the four corners of the world, where books in Esperanto are exchanged and read, including those translated from Croatian.
No other title of Croatian children’s literature has reached as many readers as the novel The Marvellous Adventures of Hlapić the Apprentice penned by Croatian writer Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić, regardless of whether in Esperanto translated by Maja Tišljar under the title Mirindaj aventuroj de metilernanto Hlapić (1998) or in any of its translations from Esperanto into other languages.
Whilst celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first publication of Hlapić the Apprentice in 2013, it can be argued that, thanks to Esperanto, this bridge between languages, the story of Hlapić the Apprentice became accessible to two billion readers, given that, from Esperanto, it was translated into Japanese, Bengali, Chinese, Persian, Vietnamese, and Korean.
Maja Tišljar’s translation of Hlapić is very fluent and easy-to-read. This is testified to, amongst other things, by the fact that translator Maja Tišljar grew up in a Croatian family of fans of Esperanto, whose two children, one of whom is Maja Tišljar, were raised while exposed to and surrounded by Esperanto, rendering Esperanto their second mother tongue. The family had read the translation of Hlapić the Apprentice by the Rijeka-born Esperantist, Josipa Katunar, albeit in manuscript, but the language of that particular translation seemed to lack fluidity. With financial support from the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, in 1997 the Croatian Esperanto Association (CEA) commissioned Maja Tišljar, an astrophysics student at the time, to translate Hlapić anew. Titled Mirindaj aventuroj de metilernanto Hlapić, it was prepared for press by LIBRO TIM, a publishing house owned by Esperantist Dalibor Šeatović, and printed by More, a Zagreb-based printing house. The illustration of Hlapić appearing on the book cover was donated by painter Ivica Antolčić.
The CEA strove to print this new translation of Hlapić the Apprentice as quickly as possible since they wanted to see it enter the Universal Esperanto Association’s competition in the category of best children’s book. And it won in 1999 at the World Congress of Esperanto held in Berlin. The CEA also announced Zagreb’s candidacy for the host of the World Congress of Esperanto (Zagreb was indeed elected, and in 2001 hosted the Congress which was attended by slightly less than two thousand participants). Maja Tišljar’s Esperanto translation of Hlapić the Apprentice was exhibited in Berlin at the Croatian exhibition stand set up with the support of the Zagreb Tourist Board. I remember the air of excitement amongst Croatia’s Esperantists when, just before the Best Children’s Book Award in Esperanto was announced, Osmo Buller, Head of the Central Office of the Universal Esperanto Association, approached the Croatian exhibition stand, and asked that someone come to the Belartaj Konkursoj awards ceremony because Mirindaj aventuroj de metilernanto Hlapić won first prize. Hlapić’s Berlin winner’s certificate today decorates the office of the CEA at No. 9 Vodnikova Street in Zagreb.
Inspired by Hlapić’s success in Berlin, the CEA decided to send the little hero out into the world. Known worldwide as Libroservo – the largest bookstore specialising in literature in Esperanto which is associated with the Universal Esperanto Association and is located in Rotterdam – was the first to put Hlapić the Apprentice on its shelves. Moreover, the book was sent to leading Esperanto magazines in the hope that they may be interested in publishing a review. It soon became evident that these activities had a major impact, and that Hlapić the Apprentice had created a whole new circle of Esperanto readers, and a big one, at that. What follows is a detailed account of the situations and circumstances in which new translations of Hlapić were rendered into other languages via Maja Tišljar’s Esperanto translation.
The from-Esperanto-to-Japanese translation of Hlapić
The Japanese Esperantist Sekoguchi Ken was the first to contact the CEA. He explained by email that he was a grandfather who bought several children’s books from the Esperanto bookstore at the Japanese Esperanto Institute, which is supplied with books from Libroservo in Rotterdam, so that he could tell stories from all over the world to his grandchildren when they came to visit. He had already read Hlapić the Apprentice, whom he liked very much, and asked for clarification and explanation of some terms from the translation that were unclear to him. More specifically, he had decided to translate the book into Japanese, and read paragraph by paragraph to his grandchildren during their visits to his house. Grandfather Sekoguchi Ken’s idea to use the story of Hlapić the Apprentice to keep his grandchildren away from charming Japanese TV programmes is certainly commendable. In 2003, an article about this was published in the magazine Tempo, the official publication of the CEA.
So what clarifications did this Japanese grandfather ask for? For the old-time, traditional peasant footwear called ‘opanak’ in Croatian that Hlapić cobbles the translator used a newly made up Esperanto word, which Japanese readers could not make any sense of. I made an omission in the capacity of editor of the Esperanto edition insofar as I failed to supplement the edition with explanations of Esperanto neologisms contained in the book. This omission was corrected by Davor Klobučar, editor of the CEA’s website, who uploaded a photograph of Slavonian opanaks onto the CEA’s website, as suggested by Esperantist Olgica Tomik from the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research. The CEA also uploaded on their website a short biography of the author of The Marvellous Adventures of Hlapić the Apprentice, Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić, including photographs of her wearing a gorgeous hat, as well as notes on the character of Bundaš, considering that readers and translators had questions about him, too. However, these were not the only points of perplexity and confusion that Hlapić encountered when meeting different cultures. Sekoguchi Ken also had difficulty understanding the phrase “town wall”, for instance.
However, grandfather Sekoguchi Ken did not stop at reading Hlapić the Apprentice in Japanese to his grandchildren. What he also did was share his experience in translating Croatian children’s literature with colleagues from the Esperanto Club in Mishima. Members of his Esperanto Club must have also liked the story of Hlapić since they decided that Sekoguchi Ken’s Japanese translation would be published by the club under the title Shokunin-minarai Furapitchi no fushigina bouken as a limited edition. This first Japanese edition of Hlapić the Apprentice was illustrated by a member of the club, Goto Masako, and printed under the symbol of ‘baikamo’, a water cherry blossom or Ranunculus aquatilis L. var. japonicus Nakai which grows in the surroundings of Mishima.
Having attended, on behalf of the CEA, the World Congress of Esperanto in Beijing in 2004, I was approached by Esperantist Tahira Masako from Kyoto, Zagreb’s sister city. She had with her a parcel sent to me by Sekoguchi Ken – two copies of the first Japanese edition of Hlapić the Apprentice illustrated by Goto Masaka. This is how Hlapić in Japanese arrived in Zagreb in my suitcase.
This little blue edition of Hlapić the Apprentice inspired its Japanese translator to take another big step. Sekoguchi Ken decided that, if he wanted his Japanese Hlapić to reach a much larger readership, he should equip his Japanese Hlapić better. He contacted the Shinpusha publishing house, which hired a professional illustrator for the book. Their edition features the original title in Croatian (i.e., Čudnovate zgode šegrta Hlapića), and a portrait of Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić, which was provided for this Japanese edition by Školska Knjiga, a Zagreb-based publishing house. This second Japanese edition of Hlapić the Apprentice from 2005 is more lavishly equipped than the first. I later found out that Sekoguchi Ken ended up spending one million yen to print this lavish edition of Hlapić the Apprentice at the Shinpusha publishing house.
Shinpusha’s publication of Hlapić in Japanese was then advertised by two Japanese newspapers, namely Mainichi Shinbun and Shizuoka Shinbun, which ran the advertisement in four million of their copies.
Hlapić the Apprentice in India – A Bengali translation
However, Hlapić’s Asian adventures did not end in Japan. Judita Rey Hudeček, the then president of the CEA, referred me to an interview with Abir Dasgupta published in the Esperanto magazine Juna Amiko. Abir Dasgupta is the son of the eminent Indian Esperantist and linguist, Probal Dasgupta, who was raised in an Esperanto-friendly environment, although his first language is Bengali. Juna Amiko, a magazine for students of Esperanto, which has been published in Budapest since 1974, interviewed Abir and asked him what he read in Esperanto. Abir, a ten-year-old schoolboy at the time of the interview, replied that all children should read The Marvellous Adventures of Hlapić the Apprentice. “But, as there are fearful children, some can’t imagine leaving home. Such children should read The Gang of Pero the Nugget,” Abir advised his Esperanto-speaking peers. Offered freely by an Indian boy, what a beautiful promotion this was of Croatian children’s literature in an international magazine. Mate Lovrak’s The Gang of Pero the Nugget was translated into Esperanto by Josip Pleadin in 1998. Illustrated by Vlado Mlinjarić, its afterword penned by Zdravko Seleš, and printed by the Đurđevac-based publishing house Grafok, Pleadin’s translation was published under the title La kamaradaro de Petro Nodeto.
Another curiosity is that Abir Dasgupta listed Kumewawa, The Son of the Jungle (Kumeŭaŭa, la filo de la ĝangalo), a novel by Tibor Sekelj, as his fourth favourite book. Admittedly, Tibor Sekelj is not a Croatian writer, nor was it in Zagreb that he wrote his novel about the little Brazilian Indian boy Kumewawa. However, it was in Zagreb that Sekelj became an Esperantist. Specifically, he lived in Zagreb between 1927 and 1937, when he learned Esperanto, thanks to which his novel about the Brazilian boy Kumewawa was translated into more than thirty languages.
I met Abir’s father, Probal Dasgupta from Kolkata, in 2004 in Gothenburg, Sweden, when I asked him whether we would be interested in translating Hlapić the Apprentice into Bengali. Bengali is a language spoken by 230 million people, which ranks it amongst the top seven most spoken languages in the world. I asked Probal this question at a time when he felt a deep sense of obligation towards his father, the Bengali historian Arun Dasgupta. More specifically, Probal’s father Arun Dasgupta, who had just passed away, was as a historian inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and his idea of how to save the Indian economy. According to Arun Dasgupta, Mahatma Gandhi had been encouraging his compatriots since the 1920s to dedicate half an hour each day to weaving as a way of expressing their pride and desire for independence from Great Britain, given that the first industry to have been destroyed by the British in India was the textile industry, after which English textiles were easily imposed on India and its people. Having expanded on Gandhi’s initial idea, Arun Dasgupta invited all educated inhabitants of the world to invest half an hour every day in translation. This would, he had believed, accentuate the dignity of the world, and prompt an exchange of thoughts and ideas.
As a result, Probal Dasgupta, Noam Chomsky’s student in the US, set out to translate Hlapić the Apprentice guided by his father’s idea: half an hour every day to assist the flow of human thought, and the exchange of ideas. We can safely assume that Probal derived great satisfaction from translating from the small Croatian language via Esperanto as a bridge language into the widely spoken Bengali language.
Dasgupta’s translation of Hlapić the Apprentice was published in Samatat, a Bengali youth magazine, nos. 145-148, in 2005 and 2006. The title of the magazine Samatat is made up of two words; namely, sama which translates as ‘common’, and tat which translates as ‘coast’. Put together, they form a ‘common podium or platform’, which is also the old name of the region of Bengal. In this sense, Samatat represents the region from which two state formations emerged: namely, West Bengal in India, and Bangladesh, which was East Pakistan until 1971. The magazine publishes essays on literature, history, medicine, philosophy, science, technology, linguistics, and music, as well as biographies, and plays. Samatat has been published four times a year since 1969. The Bengali translation of Hlapić the Apprentice was published in the children and youth’s section of the magazine called Kishor Samatat in series, and the first few appeared in the October and December issues of 2005.
With the publisher of Samatat Dasgupta also arranged for Hlapić the Apprentice, printed under the title Hlapicher Kaando, to be published in the form of a book. The year 2006 saw this happen. This book edition is most commonly referred to as the “first Bengali edition of Hlapić”, which ignores the fact that Hlapić was originally published in series in a magazine.
The first bundle of Hlapić the Apprentice featuring densely printed Bengali letters arrived at the premises of the CEA in Zagreb in the autumn of 2006. This rather modest Bengali edition features Goto Masako’s illustrations, the very same ones which Sekoguchi Ken illustrated the first Japanese edition with. In effect, Hlapić helped to create a Japanese-Bengali connection. Probal Dasgupta dedicated his translation to his Esperanto friends Jorge Camacho from Spain, and Sten Johansson from Sweden.
Dasgupta’s Hlapić the Apprentice’s Bengali book promotion took place at the Nehru Children’s Museum in Kolkata, which was participated in by the then Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to India, Dino Debeljuh. To celebrate the publication of the Bengali edition of The Marvellous Adventures of Hlapić the Apprentice, an event was held at the Children’s Book Centre in Zagreb on 14th November 2006. There, Sulekha Pollak, an Indian-born woman who married a Zagreb-born man, read an excerpt from the book in Bengali, and Indologist Ivan Andrijević spoke about Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić’s enthusiasm for India. The plot of her last novel, Jaša Dalmatin, Viceroy of Gujarat, takes place in India’s north-western state of Gujarat. Ivana attended Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry reading in mid-November 1926, which took place at the Croatian Music Institute in Zagreb. During the poetry reading she recorded syllables of Bengali that she heard. Based on her notes, Indologists could decipher which of his poems Tagore recited in Zagreb. Following their encounter in Zagreb, Ivana corresponded with the great Bengali writer and winner of the Nobel Prize. His letters to Ivana are kept as part of her legacy at the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, while Ivana’s letters to Rabindranath Tagore are lost.
However, Hlapić’s Asian adventures did not end here either. In 2007, the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) of the European Commission headquartered in Brussels announced a call for proposals for projects in the field of international cultural cooperation of the European Union, which mandated that India be partnered with. The CEA could respond to the call for proposals given that it met its key requirement – it already had established cultural relations and cooperation with India prior to 2007. In other words, the CEA already had an existing team of associates in India, and the best proof of this was Hlapić the Apprentice in Bengali.
Probal Dasgupta from Kolkata accepted the CEA’s invitation from Zagreb to lead the Indian part of the team. It was decided that the project should remain in the field of children’s literature. The project aimed to translate one work of Indian children’s literature into three European languages, and one work of children’s literature from each of the three European languages into Bengali.
Book presentations of the translations were to be held in the schools of the three selected European countries, and in schools in India. Young readers were to be invited to write essays about the books they read, and the best essays were to be published and rewarded. As there are no literary translators from, for instance, Bengali into Croatian or from Slovenian into Bengali, Esperanto was to serve as a bridge language; that is, Esperanto translations were to serve as intermediary translations. After all, the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore was also translated into Croatian via a bridge language, and not directly from Bengali.
The European Commission selected the CEA’s project, a decision that the CEA were delighted with. A little more than 33,000 EUR were allocated to the project, and the same amount was to be secured by the CEA. It seems that 33,000 EUR is the largest amount of money paid for a job that Hlapić, a shoemaker’s apprentice, was a part of.
The Zagreb team brought together colleagues from Slovenia and Italy, and was joined by Inter-kulturo, Zlatko Tišljar’s Esperanto Society from Maribor, translator Vinko Ošlak from Klagenfurt, and the Edistudio publishing house from Pisa. The Kolkata team partnered up with the Samatat publishing house. I was project leader and represented the CEA, and Esperantist Vera Roknić also participated in the project. The Croatian team partnered up with the Izvori publishing house from Zagreb, and translator Domagoj Vidović.
The project’s Slovenian partner proposed Tone Partljič’s Hotel sam prijeti sonce [I Wanted to Catch the Sun] published in 1981, the Italian partner selected Vamba’s (aka Luigi Bertelli, 1848-1920) Il Giornalino di Gian Burrasca [The Diary of Johnny Tempest] published in 1912, and as far as Croatian children’s literature was concerned, Joža Horvat’s (1915-2012) novel Waitapu (1984) was chosen, since in 2005 a Chinese translation of Horvat’s book had already been published with partners from Wuhan. The project’s Bengali partner proposed the 1923 book Damoru’s Life by Bengali author Troilokyanath Mukhopadhyay (1847-1919). The project lasted two years. It started in 2008, and had to be and was completed by 30th April 2010.
On a Persian carpet
Yet, Hlapić travelled elsewhere, too. To follow his travels, we must go back in time. On my return flight from Adelaide, Australia, in 1997, as the aeroplane was approaching the north of the continent, I walked down the aisle after sitting for a long time. In the back of the aeroplane, I recognised an acquaintance of mine from Iran who was flying back home, just like I was, from the World Congress of Esperanto. It was the Iranian Esperantist Achtar Etemadi. The kind person seated next to Achtar agreed to swap seats with me, so I had the opportunity to chat with Achtar for several hours. While we both waited at the Kuala Lumpur airport for our respective aeroplanes to take us home, we continued our conversation. Having found out that Achtar was a translator, I had immediately put forward a suggestion to her – might she be interested in translating works from Croatian literature into Farsi (Persian) from and via Esperanto? I had my copy of Antologio de kroataj unuaktaj dramoj [Anthology of Croatian One-Act Plays] from 1998 with me, but it was in my checked-in baggage somewhere in the cargo hold under the plane. Nevertheless, Achtar soon received a package of Croatian literature in Esperanto.
From the aforementioned anthology, translator Achtar Etemadi first translated the one-act play Gogol’s Death by Ulderiko Donadini, and then George Washington’s Loves by Miro Gavran. She published these two plays in magazines; Donadini in the monthly Namayesh, and Gavran in a student magazine. Neither play has been published in Farsi as a stand-alone book.
Later, Achtar Etemadi also translated Hlapić. Hlapić the Apprentice in Farsi, published under the title Majhera Hay shegeft angizz Hlapic shagert kafash, illustrated by the famous Persian artist Mohammad Reza Lavasani’s prints, was printed in Tehran in 10,000 copies, which makes it, according to Achtar, available to young readers even in villages across Iran. The Farsi translation of Hlapić the Apprentice was published in 2005 by Kanoon Parvaresh Fekri Koodakan, a prestigious Iranian publishing house from Tehran, which was founded by the Empress of Iran, Farah Pahlavi, before the Islamic Revolution. In 2015, the same publishing house printed another 5,000 copies of the Persian translation of Hlapić.
In 2005, the CEA hosted Achtar Etemadi at the Esperanto Writers and Translators’ Conference in Hrašćina, and the daily newspaper Novi List published an interview with her. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first publication of The Marvellous Adventures of Hlapić the Apprentice in 2013, Achtar Etemadi was again invited to attend the Esperanto Writers and Translators’ Conference in Hrašćina, when she was gifted an Esperanto translation of Anđelka Martić’s Pirgo by Esperantists Vjekoslav Morankić and Boris Di Costanza from Rijeka. In poor health and at an advanced age, writer Anđelka Martić was delighted at the news that in 2018 an Iranian publishing house had printed her Pirgo in a thousand copies, and was about to run a second edition in 1,000 copies. She was not in the least surprised by the Iranian cover of her Pirgo illustrated by Aidin Salsabili featuring a little girl wearing a Partisan hat while hugging a deer calf. The title of the Persian version of Pirgo is Pirgo and Partisan Željko.
This was the fourth book that Achtar Etemadi translated from Croatian via Esperanto into Persian.
In 2006, the World Congress of Esperanto was held in Florence. I arranged a meeting with the Vietnamese representative at the Congress in advance. Just before the Congress was officially opened, Nguyen Xuan Thu appeared at the Croatian stand to pick up his copy of Hlapić the Apprentice. We agreed that, if he thought that Vietnamese readers might find the book interesting to read after he read it, he would recommend a good translator from Esperanto to Vietnamese.
In the last week of February 2007, as the International Friendship Month was coming to an end, news arrived from Hanoi that a group of young translators had finished translating the Croatian book The Marvellous Adventures of Hlapić the Apprentice. Young Vietnamese Esperantists learned Esperanto with the help of an Esperanto textbook printed in Zagreb, which meant that Hlapić the Apprentice was already part of their Esperanto syllabus. Later came the news that the Vietnamese Writers’ Association partnered up with the Vietnamese Esperanto Association to publish the Vietnamese edition of Hlapić the Apprentice.
Nguyen Xuan Thu, who flew Hlapić from Florence to Vietnam, took the manuscript of the Vietnamese translation to the printing house himself. Just before handing it over to the printer, he sent an email whose content was disturbing: “I am reviewing the material before handing it over to the printing house, and I see that our illustrator painted Bundaš in black?! But Bundaš is brown, isn’t he?”
The book was published in 2008 under the title Cuộc phiêu lưu kỳ lạ của chú bé học viềc Hlapic, and came out of press on International Children’s Day. Hlapić the Apprentice was translated into Vietnamese by Phan Hong Vuong and Luong Ngoc Bao, the translation was proofread by Nguyen Xuan Thu, and edited by Cao Truong, the text was prepared for press by The Minh, and the book was illustrated by Nguyen The Minh, also known as The Quang.
Four years later, in 2012, Hanoi hosted the World Congress of Esperanto. The CEA organised a congress programme on Hlapić the Apprentice. Judita Rey Hudeček, president of the CEA, moderated the event together with her Vietnamese colleagues at the Congress Bookstore, which was reported on by the Congressional Bulletin.
Hlapić’s long stay in China
We must also visit China, where our associate Shi Cheng Tai was working on the Chinese translation of Karlo Štajner’s Seven Thousand Days in Siberia in 2002 via the Esperanto translation of the same book by Krešimir Barković. Having had the habit of gifting his Chinese friend selected titles in Esperanto, the eminent Japanese Esperantist Kurisu Kei sent a copy of Seven Thousand Days in Siberia in Esperanto, printed in Paris by the Esperanto association called S.A.T. (Sennacieca Asocio Tutmonda), to his friend Shi Cheng Tai in Harbin in northern China. Shi Cheng Tai was fascinated by the Siberian theme of the book. The process of translating the thick book of Štajner’s first-hand Siberian experiences from Esperanto to Chinese was slow. For the translator in Croatia I secured an afterword penned by Predrag Matvejević for future editions of the book. While translating it, Shi Cheng Tai asked to be sent another Croatian book in Esperanto which would help him to take a break from Štajner’s torturous Siberian scenes.
It was decided that the title that would be best for this purpose was, of course, Hlapić the Apprentice. I was touched, indeed, when two respected Chinese translators – namely, Shi Cheng Tai, and Hu Guo – welcomed me in 2004 at the entrance to a Beijing convention centre, and handed me a green package of the Chinese edition of Štajner’s Seven Thousand Days in Siberia, plus an additional title. More specifically, when the translation of Štajner’s novel was completed, and when the painstaking search for a publishing house began, Shi Cheng Tai communicated that the Chinese translation of Hlapić the Apprentice was also finished. Only then did it become evident that the Chinese translator had indeed taken breaks from translating Štajner by translating Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić! Shi Cheng Tai was kindly asked to send a copy of his translation to Zagreb, which he did. Bound at the Šoban Bookbinders, today Shi Cheng Tai’s translation is at the manuscript archives of the CEA library.
This manuscript had been waiting for a publisher for almost a decade. It had been offered for publication to several Chinese publishers, without much success.
Attempts finally bore fruit when Ante Simonić was appointed ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to Beijing. The embassy communicated that it was interested in publishing the Chinese translation of Hlapić the Apprentice, and that it had found both an associate for the publishing project, and a painter to illustrate the book. At first it appeared that The Marvellous Adventures of Hlapić the Apprentice would be published by a Chinese publishing house specialising in children’s literature. However, the book was published in Beijing in 2012 under the title Xiaoxuetu Helapiqi lixianji by the Croatian Embassy itself. Croatian Ambassador Simonić visited several schools in Beijing on a number of occasions holding the Chinese translation of Hlapić the Apprentice in his hand wanting to introduce Croatian culture to Chinese children.
Shi Cheng Tai was very pleased to see Hlapić printed in Chinese, and to receive a small translator’s fee thanks to the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia. The CEA soon learned through Esperanto circles that a Chinese translation of Hlapić had already been published prior to Shi Cheng Tai’s translation via Esperanto. Specifically, the title it bore was Labiqi chuzouji, and it was published in 1982. However, this 1982 edition had not been translated from Esperanto, but most probably from English. More importantly, its translator was not a no-name – it was translated by Cicio Mar, a famous writer, translator, and Esperantist. Cicio Mar’s son, known in the Chinese Esperanto movement as Freŝa Maro (Fresh Sea in translation), said that he did not know which language his father had translated the work from. In October 2013, the Esperanto magazine Tempo published an article written by Cicio Mar’s son about his Esperantist father who was the first to translate Hlapić the Apprentice into Chinese.
Around the world
The many translations of The Marvellous Adventures of Hlapić the Apprentice that have come to see the light of day via its Esperanto translation continue to build bridges between cultures. This is evidenced by the fact that, in recent times, many gatherings and conferences have been held on the novel. For instance, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first publication of The Marvellous Adventures of Hlapić the Apprentice, at the Children’s Book Centre in Zagreb the Chinese edition of Hlapić the Apprentice was presented to pupils. Judita Rey Hudeček spoke about Hlapić’s adventures in Asia, and Marin Mikulić read an excerpt from the novel in Chinese.
Also, homage was paid to Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić in April 2013 in Pusan, Korea. An associate of the CEA published a Korean edition of The Marvellous Adventures of Hlapić the Apprentice under the title Kkoma gudujang-i Heullapichi. Known as Ombro amongst Korean Esperantists, Jang Jeong-Ryeol’s collaboration with the CEA was indeed a success – in 2012, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Tibor Sekelj’s birth, he published in Seoul his Korean translation of Sekelj’s novel Kumewawa, The Son of the Jungle. In 2013, he also translated Hlapić the Apprentice into Korean, and had it published in his hometown of Pusan by the Sanzin publishing house. The Korean edition of Hlapić the Apprentice was illustrated by Lee Da-Jeong.
The presentation of the Korean edition of Hlapić in Croatia was organised in the village of Hrašćina in Croatia’s north-western region of Zagorje in May 2013, with the help of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, which facilitated a reading of Hlapić in Korean. Introductory speeches about Hlapić were given by Vinko Brešić and Berislav Majhut, and I gave an account of Hlapić’s Asian adventures. Passages were read from the Persian translation of Hlapić (by Farhang Monem), and from the Chinese edition (by Marin Mikulić). An excerpt from the Croatian original was read by actress Barbara Rocco. Also, in September 2013 the Iranian translator Achtar Etemadi came to Croatia to partake in the Esperanto Writers and Translators’ Conference in Hrašćina, which was held between 14th and 16th September 2013.
The CEA also paid homage to Hlapić the Apprentice at the lavish Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Reykjavik on 23rd July 2013, at the World Congress of Esperanto. The Congressional Bulletin called Auroro, alluding to the Northern Lights in its title, announced this congressional event, at which Hlapić’s Asian adventures, and the CEA’s Hlapić Project were presented. Probal Dasgupta spoke about the Bengali translation of Hlapić. The Japanese translator Sekoguchi Ken could not attend, so a young Japanese writer came in his stead. He arrived at the Congress with a photograph of a baikamo flower from the town of Mishima, under whose symbol the first Japanese version of Hlapić came to see the light of day. The Chinese and Korean translators of Hlapić could not attend the Congress either, so I spoke about their translations. There sat in the Reykjavik audience a Nepalese man wearing a colourful Nepalese hat. He wanted to find out about the Asian adventures of Hlapić the Apprentice. He had a small moustache, and was smiling. His name is Bharat. But, talks with Nepal have only just begun. Hlapić has a long way to go before reaching Kathmandu…
Other vivid memories from Reykjavik starring Hlapić should also be added here. The Universal Esperanto Association sold Hlapić the Apprentice in Esperanto at the Congress Bookstore in Reykjavik. A buyer from Costa Rica asked for an inscription. A buyer from Canada donated a banknote in support of the association – because of Hlapić. The Bengali translator Probal Dasgupta, whose term as president of the Universal Esperanto Association had just ended, meaning that he participated in the event on Hlapić the Apprentice as former president for the first time, asked for a new copy of Hlapić in Esperanto given that his original copy had been rather badly damaged during translation.
In 2017, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia took the decision that the tradition of Esperanto be given the status of intangible cultural heritage. This may have, in some measure, been contributed to by Hlapić’s Esperanto pilgrimages to Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam, Iran, etc.
Has Hlapić the Apprentice ended his Asian adventures in company with Esperanto? Let us hope not. But, regardless of what the answer to this question may be, I am glad that I kept on opening doors for Hlapić along the way.
Spomenka Štimec, 2021
Translated by: Ana Janković Čikos
List of literature
Brlić-Mažuranić, Ivana. 1982. Labiqi chuzouji. Translated into Chinese by Cicio Mar. Hunan: [Children’s book publishing house].
Brlić-Mažuranić, Ivana. 1998. Mirindaj aventuroj de metilernanto Hlapić. Translated from Croatian into Esperanto by Maja Tišljar. Book cover illustration by Ivica Antolčić. Zagreb: Hrvatski savez za esperanto/Kroata Esperanto-Ligo.
- Štimec: The Asian adventures of Hlapić the Apprentice
Brlić-Mažuranić, Ivana. 2004. Shokunin-minarai Furapitchi no fushigina bouken. Baikamo. Translated into Japanese by Sekoguchi Ken. Illustrated by Masako Goto. Mishima: Esperanto-Klubo Mishima, Japan.
Brlić-Mažuranić, Ivana. 2005. Shokunin-minari Furapitchi no fushigina bouken. Translated into Japanese by Sekoguchi Ken. Illustrated by Akino Junko. Tokio: Shinpu-sha.
Brlić-Mažuranić, Ivana. 2005. Maĵera Hay ŝegeft angizz Hlapic ŝagert kafaŝ. Translated into Persian by Achtar Etemadi. Teheran: Kanoon Pervareshh Fekri Koodakan.
Brlić-Mažuranić, Ivana. 2015. Maĵera Hay ŝegeft angizz Hlapic ŝagert kafaŝ. Translated into Persian by Achtar Etemadi. Teheran: Kanoon Pervareshh Fekri Koodakan.
Brlić-Mažuranić, Ivana. 2006. Hlapicher Kaando. Translated into Bengali by Probal Dasgupta. Illustrated by Goto Masako. Kolkata: Samatat.
Brlić-Mažuranić, Ivana. 2006. Cuộc phiêu lưu kỳ lạ của chú bé học viềc Hlapic. Translated into Vietnamese by Phan Hong Vuong and Luong Ngoc Bao. Illustrated by The Quang. Hanoi: Vietnamese Writers’ Association & Vietnamese Esperanto Association.
Brlić-Mažuranić, Ivana. 2012. Xiaoxuetu Helapiqi lixianji. Translated into Chinese by Shi Cheng Tai. Beijing: Embassy of the Republic of Croatia.
Brlić-Mažuranić, Ivana. 2013. Kkoma gudujang-i Heullapichi. Translated into Korean by Jang Jeong-Ryeol. Illustrated by Lee Da-Jeong. Published by Pusan: Sanzin Book.
Kroata Esperanto-Ligo (KEL). Croatian Esperanto Association.
 Probal Dasgupta corrects the name of his hometown from Calcutta to Kolkata because, he says, Kolkata has been the official name of the city since 2000. He also prefers that the country he is from is called Bharat instead of India. When we refer to the country as India, the Hindi language takes precedence over all the other languages spoken in India. By contrast, the name Bharat covers an area much larger than that in which the Hindu language is spoken. At the same time, Bharat is reminiscent of the Mahabharata epic poem.
 The book was translated into Croatian from Esperanto by Domagoj Vidović, and was published in Zagreb in 2009. The title was translated from the original title which is Damru-Charita. The original was translated into Esperanto from Bengali by Malasree Dasgupta under the title La vivo de Damoru.
 The presentation was held as part of the Meteorite Gathering. These “meteorite” literary gatherings have been held regularly since 1995 at my curia in Hrašćina. Specifically, on 26th May 1751 a meteorite fell in Hrašćina, so the Meteorite Gatherings are held in memory of this event, which also marked the beginning of scientific research into meteorites.