Many thanks to Paul Perez for mentioning a letter from Hanna Zamenhof-Zaruski in the Dec. 19th issue of The New Yorker, where she responds to the magazine’s recent review of Esther Schor’s book Bridge of Words:
I was delighted by Joan Acocella’s review. […] As the oldest great-granddaughter of Ludovik Zamenhof, the inventor of the language, I may be biased, but I believe that his ideas are as fresh today as when they were first expressed, with the power to make the world more peaceful. Although English is now the lingvo internacia, the world still desperately needs an interna ideo—a unifying idea of humanity. In 1906, Zamenhof printed a pamphlet titled “Homaranismo,” which explains the ideals behind Esperanto: “Homaranismo is a teaching which, without tearing a man away from his natural fatherland, language, or religion, will enable him to avoid falsehood and contradiction in his national and religious principles, and put him into communication with men of any language or religion upon a neutral basis, on principles of mutual brotherhood.” If Esperanto were more widely used, it would create more openness, acceptance, and civility. Imagine if we could all simply agree that we are homaranoj—members of humankind.
Paul notes that Zamenhof-Zaruski’s letter appears adjacent to an advertisement for Movado watches. Coincidence?
And positive reviews continue to appear in mainstream media for Bridge of Words. The latest is from the Dec. 20th issue of the Chicago Tribune, titled Esther Schor blends memoir and history in ‘Bridge of Words,’ the story of Esperanto. Here’s an excerpt:
Schor’s travels take her everywhere from Ho Chi Minh’s tomb to an Esperanto-speaking sanctuary for abandoned children in rural Brazil. Despite the obstacles the language has encountered, and the surprising amount of acrimony it has stirred, Esperanto is still with us.
“Esperanto culture,” Schor notes in a passage about centennial celebrations of Zamenhof’s creation, “was more than a cradle for an infant language, and more than a platform for utopian ideals; … it had flowered into a distinct tradition and a source of a shared supranatural identity.”
“Bridge of Words” takes you inside that identity — which turns out to be, in all its hopes and permutations and divisions, a reflection of the world at large.