Gabriela Capraroiu, associate professor of Spanish, discussed her current research translating Maria Teresa Leon’s travel memoir on communist Romania during her faculty lecture on Monday.
Twenty-two were in attendance for Capraroiu’s announcement of the annotated version of the unpublished travel memoir she is working on.
The travel memoir is one of Maria Teresa Leon’s least known works for a well-known Spanish writer, according to Capraroiu.
“The introductory study for the critical edition I am preparing aims to place the work in its context that is to trace the evolution of Leon’s political and literary relationship with Romania,” Capraroiu said.
“And to examine the way in which her interpretation of a foreign cultural space intersects with her own writing,” she added.
Leon is said to have written the memoir between 1961 and 1965, during which she is also said to have written her autobiography.
“On the one hand, the text is evidently a praise of a socialist country… it conforms simultaneously to the collective demands of the authorities financing the project, and to Leon’s personal left wing view of the world,” Capraroiu said.
The book is a 230-page document considered to be a full travel book containing information about everything from streets and rivers to celebrations in Romania.
“As far as literature is concerned, there is no overt discussion in the text of the aforementioned tensions,” Capraroiu said.
“Quite to the contrary, the text puts forward the idea of the contemporary writer as the voice of the people, whose conflict with society ends in the new social order.”
Capraroiu continued to give background information on the history of Leon and her husband, Spanish poet Rafael Alberti, as well as the development of the text.
Capraroiu gave the audience a handout of other literary works from Leon. On the back of the handout was an excerpt of the text from the unpublished travel memoir, which she read in both English and Spanish.
As the lecture moved to open discussion, Director of the International and Study Abroad Center, Phil Hofer asked Capraroiu what troubles she faced while working on the memoir.
“Most of these documents (of the travel memoir) are suppose to be in the archives, but the union says they are missing. I still maintained to really dig though,” Capraroiu said.
“Is the autobiography aimed at a political or literary as well as travel?” Al Clark, associate vice president of academic affairs said.
“It is,” Capraroiu said, “It is so factual, but so literal with personal level. It is a strange text because the autobiography is not in chronological order.”
Capraroiu asked permission from Leon’s daughter, who currently lives in Cuba, to write the publication, and if she would write a personal note for the travel memoir.
“This was the first lecture I have been to, and it was really enjoyable to see what the faculty is working on,” librarian Karen Beavers said.
“I worked with Gabriela before. It is good to see more of her academic life,” said Beavers.
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