Too white, too male: a deadly sin

The cancel culture and woke idiocy seems to have no bounds: a famed Catalan translator is too white and too male to be allowed to translate a black female poet whose verses were recited at U.S. President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

The reason was, as the translator was informed, that he had a “wrong profile.”

Not only that: a Spanish publisher condoned this fit of moronism.

Barcelona-based publisher Univers said it had been they who had commissioned the translation of Amanda Gorman’s poem The Hill We Climb to Victor Obiols.

As a renowned Shakespearean translator famed also for Catalan versions of Oscar Wilde’s work, Obiols was the best qualified, Univers explained.

But, so far as Viking Books, Amanda Gorman’s U.S. publisher, is concerned this poem needs to be translated by a woman activist, preferably of African American origin.

As the Agence France Presse (AFP) reports, the American publisher did not question Obiols’s abilities. They just announced that they were looking for a different profile, which had to be a woman, young, activist and preferably black.

Univers editor Ester Pujol agreed that the Americans had every right to put any conditions in place. She went one step further, though: she found the demand perfectly acceptable.

Legalistically speaking, certainly, no question about that.

Yes, Obiols will not be able to add this translation to his list of works he helped reach the Catalan readers. But he is going to be paid for the work: he had already finished and submitted it when he was told his participation in such an august event as Biden’s inauguration would be inappropriate.

Now, Univers is looking for someone to replace Obiols. Whether there are many translators into Catalan as good as Obiols remains to be seen. And whether any Catalan translators would be willing to step in remains to be seen, too.

Obiols had this to say about the entire stupefying fiasco: “If I cannot translate a poet because she is a woman, young, black, an American of the 21st century, neither can I translate Homer because I am not a Greek of the eighth century B.C. Or could not have translated Shakespeare because I am not a 16th-century Englishman.”

In several tweets, Obiols described himself as a “victim of a new inquisition.”

He would later delete these posts. Whether he did so because, as he told reporters, he didn’t want them to be misinterpreted, or whether he was tactfully reminded to consider what would be better for him in the future, only he and his publisher know.

Amanda Gorman seems to attract all kinds of creeps.

About a month ago, Dutch poet Marieke Lucas Rijneveld was forced to turn down an assignment to translate Gorman’s The Hill We Climb into Dutch.

A black culture activist Janice Deul insisted that Rijneveld was also too white to translate the poem. The fact that, just last year, Rijneveld became the youngest writer ever to win the prestigious International Booker Prize didn’t matter. And neither did it matter that it was Amanda Gorman herself who selected Rijneveld for the job.

What was this immortal poem all about?

It described the early-January-2021 riot at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., while describing Gorman’s country’s democracy as fragile.

In the poem, Gorman called herself a “skinny black girl, descended from slaves and raised by a single mother.”

And that makes her poetry untouchable by anybody but another skinny black girl.

3 thoughts on “Too white, too male: a deadly sin

  1. prastaryrocker March 12, 2021 at 18:06 Reply

    n the end, I’ll be glad to live where I live.

  2. Lavinia Martin March 13, 2021 at 11:49 Reply

    Yet again, stupidity reigns.
    Shameful that such a stunning poem becomes the focus of obsessive nonsense. I am totally behind BLM, peoples have been too long under the heel of others and finally we might see some real change.

    This is not the way to stand up with credibility and worth. This only leads to derision and dismissal of the very essence of the BLM cause. It opens up opportunities for opponents to yet again cloud issues of justice and equality.

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