Words from the Four Winds
Bernardo Atxaga
László Darvasi
Fred pic111
Fred Johnston
Ulla-Lena Lundberg (photo Ulla Montan)
Jaan Kaplinski
Welcome to Transcript's fourth issue. Our featured writers in this issue include Estonia's Jaan Kaplinski, and Hungary's László Darvasi. We explore writing in bilingual worlds in the north, south and west, report from the Budapest Bookfair in the east, and discover an aspect of oral literature in Breton-speaking Brittany.
In this its fourth issue, Transcript presents writers and books from the four winds. Our featured writers include Estonia's Jaan Kaplinski, and Hungary's László Darvasi. Read from Kaplinski's two-novel book The Eye.Hektor, and discover Darvasi's momumental historical novel The Legend of the Tear-grifters.

In this issue we embrace the theme of writing in bilingual worlds. As the history of Europe continues to unfold, plurality of language remains a fact both within national boundaries and beyond national territories. Transcript looks at several countries where life is lived, to varying degrees, in the context of bilingualism. We visit Ireland, Finland's Åland islands, the Iberian peninsula and Wales.

Today, as has been the case for many centuries, many linguistic varieties have been spoken in Spain. These include Basque, Galician and Catalan represented in Transcript by Bernardo Atxaga, Xosé Luís Méndez Ferrín and Ignasi Riera respectively.

From Ireland we welcome two writers who represent the duality of Irish culture: the first, Fred Johnston (1952), whose language is English, is a native of the north-east, and has roots both in the Catholic and Protestant traditions of Northern Ireland. The other, Seán Ó Ríordáin (1917-1977), is an Irish-language writer from southern Munster whose poetry is strongly nationalist and Catholic in ethos.

Finland too is a bilingual country. Its total population numbers about five million. Ninety four percent of these are Finnish-speaking, the remaining six percent being Swedish-speaking. Part of this minority lives on the Åland islands whose rich literary tradition represented in this issue of Transcript by Ulla-Lena Lundberg, one of Finland's foremost writers today.

Moving to Wales, we feature R.S. Thomas, one of the finest poets to have written in English since Yeats, and Mihangel Morgan, a prolific Welsh-language novelist. Read also 'Stories for Old Dictators' by Mary-Ann Constantine, a detailed comparison of two collections of short-stories, Y Dwr Mawr Llwyd by Welsh writer Robin Llywelyn, and Them by our featured Galician Xosé Luís Méndez Ferrín.

Complementing its look at literature in bilingual worlds, Transcript visits Brittany where an aspect of traditional 'oral literature', the art of the insult, is helping to bring the Breton language back into the public sphere.

Transcript also reports from The Budapest International Book Festival 2003, billed this year as a splendid celebration of its tenth successful year. The festival's expectations were largely met, but there were some surprises: Anna Paterson was there.

Hungary, Estonia, Iberia, Wales, Ireland, Finland: these are parts of Europe certain of whose writers we invite you to discover now in these Transcript's pages.

See highlights to choose from the contents of Transcript

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