Saturday, December 30, 2006

Rizal joins Dickens and Austen

Here's some really good news for Philippine literature: Penguin Classics publishes Rizal's 'Noli Me Tangere' (Touch Me Not).

PDI: Rizal joins ranks of Dickens, Austen

JOSE Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere” has been published in a new English translation and released worldwide by Penguin Books, one of the major publishing houses of the English-speaking world, under the Penguin Classics imprint. The publication effectively canonizes the novel as one of the classics of world literature.

Augenbraum said he stumbled upon Rizal’s novel in 1992 while compiling a bibliography of North American Latino fiction writers. He said he came across the name of National Artist N.V.M. Gonzalez whom he thought to be Latino. He went on to read Gonzalez and “loved it” and thereby got “introduced to a whole world of Filipino and Filipino-American literature, which I began to seek out here in the US.”

“The name of Rizal came up several times, so I read the ‘Noli,’ which fascinated me,” he said. “Then I read the ‘Fili,’ which also fascinated me. Then I read the Austin Coates biography, and Rizal himself became one of my heroes.”

Augenbraum said the “Noli” should be required reading in Asian-American courses in US universities “because it is the foundational novel of the nation, with large implications for the diaspora and its influence on other writers.”

Very exciting indeed.

About a week ago I also got excited by the idea of reading Rizal's books into a podcast (after I found out Project Gutenberg actually has them as etexts, including his essays). No one's doing it, as far as I know. Librivox reads all sorts of books from the public domain, most of which, if not all, are great works of literature. But no one's doing classic Philippine literature. No one's doing Rizal's books.

I still have much, much, much to improve on my reading, particularly my fluency and pronounciation of the English words. But with practice, I believe I can eventually arrive at a reading that is at least understandable hehehe.

What I really want to see in the future is people 'converting' Filipino literature into audiobooks. Librivox is doing an awesome job with Western Literature, why not do the same with our own literature? We have a wealth of books, essays and poems, I believe, and they would add to the richness of the audiobooks available in the public domain.
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