Thursday, September 27, 2012

12-09-27 Dispatch de Barcelona: San Miguel or Girona?

San Miguel or Girona?

There was not enough time to recover from the fiesta of La Merce', and Barcelona city workers have started this evening building big tents in the main squares for tomorrow's fiesta of San Miguel.  San Miguel is a local patron saint, and also the name of the biggest local brewry.

Consequently, I have no doubt that it is going to be a saintly fiesta...

I can't make up my mind whether to stay tomorrow in Barcelona for the fiesta, or take the train (in Spain there is a state of the art intercity train service) to Girona (Barcelona-Girona, about 1 hour trip, cost - under 8 Euros).

Girona was one of the medieval centers of Convivencia.  An old friend of mine, from a previous reincarnation, was a professor of medieval Spanish and French.  He told me of Girona, when he was invited there by the Spanish government in the mid-1990s, for some cultural event, celebrating the completion of the restoration of a part of the old city.

Before that, he had also won an official distinction by the Spanish government for his studies of the lineage of the translations of the Hebrew bible into the vernacular Spanish. He showed that the earliest such translations were based on tranlations, produced by rabbis for the benefit of women, who often could not read the Hebrew.

In his youth he was said to have been a playboy, but by the time I knew him he was old and frail.  Never returned my emails over the last few years.

Translation of the scripture into the vernacular was a major "Freedom of Information" issue in the medieval period:

  • John Wycliff  (c. 1320 – 1384), often credited with the first translation of the Bible into English, was burnt at the stake.
  • Pico della Mirandolla (1463-1494), true to type, limited himself to translating the Song of Solomon (according to Gershom Scholem Pico was heavily assisted by Rabbi Eliyahu del Medigo), and ended up imprisoned by the Pope.  Pico is said to have confessed on his death bed to Savonarola, and is today held as a church reformer.
  • Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) translated the bible into German, in one of the key revolutionary acts of the reformation.
Cross-cultural, Arabic/Greek/Hebrew/Latin translations were a key product of the medieval Spanish Convivencia, and were later heavily relied upon during the Italian   Renaissance.

As was the case during the European Middle Ages, the preservation of knowlege, and public access to it, will likely also emerge as a key issue in the Medieval-Digital Period.

No comments: