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Karel Čapek Prize goes to French translator Abrams

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Prague, Jan 5 (CTK) – The Czech Karel Capek Prize for significant literary contributions in support of democracy goes to French linguist and translator Erika Abrams this year, Dana Mojzisova, from the Czech centre of the PEN club, which awards the prize once in two years, told CTK on Friday.

Awarded since 1994, the prize goes to significant literary achievements promoting or defending democratic and humanistic values in accordance with the efforts of renowned Czech writer and journalist Karel Capek (1890-1938).

Abrams has translated works of many Czech authors, poets, playwrights and philosophers, including Jan Patocka, Ivan Blatny, Ladislav Klima, Vladimir Holan, Jiri Kolar and Vaclav Havel, to French.

The jury that chooses the prize winner said Abrams’s translations are very congenial, reflecting her deep comprehension of the difficult original texts, and have a beautiful language and style.

The prize will be presented to Abrams in the Prague Mayor’s seat on January 9.

Abrams studied linguistics, literature and Slavic languages. Since 1973, she has repeatedly visited Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic and learned perfect Czech.

After 1977, she focused on translating the work of Jan Patocka, a philosopher and one of the Charter 77 dissident group’s protagonists who died after an exhausting interrogation by the communist authorities in March 1977 and whose work strongly influenced the anti-communist dissident movement in the country.

Under difficult conditions of being repeatedly expelled from Czechoslovakia by the communist regime, Abrams contributed to the establishment of the verified texts of Patocka’s works which mostly existed in samizdat or as manuscript versions only.

It is probably Abrams’s translations that made Patocka’s works far best known, read and cited in the Francophone space.

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