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Franz Kafka translated into Bikol language

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 literature to native Bikolano readers.

While widely available around the Philippines in English translation, Kafka´s The Metamorphosis was translated into other Philippine languages only recently. Filipino translation is available only since last year, courtesy of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, and Bikol translation follows this year.

Kafka´s 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.“

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.

Formal launching of the book was held at Ateneo de Naga University, whose President, Fr. Primitivo E. Viray Jr., SJ, an avid supporter of Bikol literature, culture and art, and Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, jr. were the major speakers. Kristian Sendon Cordero, in his remarks during the launching, thanked Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, jr. for his presence and invited young and aspiring writers to embrace the task of translation and said: „This translation will surely open new opportunities for the Bikol language to continue to relate with the world of literature.

The translation of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis into Bikol was made possible by a grant from the VC Igarta Foundation given by the eminent Bikol poet Luis Cabalquinto and the Ina nin Bikol Foundation Inc, a church-based institution that promotes cultural literacy and spiritual maturity among the Bikolanos. The book is co-published by the Ateneo de Naga University Press.

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 became 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 Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, jr. at the book launching.