Bridge of Words

Bridge of Words

Esperanto and the Dream of A Universal Language

Book - 2016
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A rich and passionate biography of a language and the dream of world harmony it sought to realize. In 1887, Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof, a Polish Jew, had the idea of putting an end to tribalism by creating a universal language, one that would be equally accessible to everyone in the world. The result was Esperanto, a utopian scheme full of the brilliance, craziness, and grandiosity that characterize all such messianic visions. In this first full history of a constructed language, poet and scholar Esther Schor traces the life of Esperanto. She follows the path from its invention by Zamenhof, through its turn-of-the-century golden age as the great hope of embattled cosmopolites, to its suppression by nationalist regimes and its resurgence as a bridge across the Cold War. She plunges into the mechanics of creating a language from scratch, one based on rational systems that would be easy to learn, politically neutral, and allow all to speak to all. Rooted in the dark soil of Europe, Esperanto failed to stem the continent's bloodletting, of course, but as Schor shows, the ideal continues draw a following of modern universalists dedicated to its visionary goal. Rich and subtle, Bridge of Words is at once a biography of an idea, an original history of Europe, and a spirited exploration of the only language charged with saving the world from itself.
Publisher: New York :, Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company,, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780805090796
0805090797
Branch Call Number: 499.99 SCH 2016
Characteristics: xiv, 364 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm

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mattstrelau
Aug 15, 2017

Interesting read. I enjoyed the historical notes and the emotional stories. At times it felt like I was reading a textbook. Some sections are compelling, while others are solely informative.

j
Jathral
Aug 04, 2017

I read this to find out about Esperanto and its creator L. L. Zamenhof. What I found was more about the Jewishness of those those involved (including the author) than about the language, its creation and its creator. The censorship of the language by the Nazis and Soviets was given less space than the quibbling over Hillelism. Why? Even the argument against Esperanto's inclusion in the League of Nations by the United States was given short shrift. Why, again? The language was to be international, so why did the author insist on it Jewish nature? The viewpoint was definitely limited and annoyingly solipsistic.

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