Fairfield University professor publishes English version of Spanish children's book of stories


Robert FedorchekSome things are universal throughout all cultures, such as the hopes, dreams, fears and wonderment of childhood. Which is why Robert Fedorchek, Ph.D., was moved to translate into English a book of Spanish-language children's stories that masterfully depict the array of emotions and lessons that children confront.

The new English version of Spanish author and journalist Concha Castroviejo's "The Garden with Seven Gates," (Bucknell University Press 2004) is a compilation of 15 stories that range from fables with moral lessons to flights of fantasy that capture the imagination of children and adults alike.

The book starts off with "We Have the Stars," a heart-warming tale about the love between a grandson and the grandfather who took him in. "Blas's Dream" recounts the story of a young boy who wants to meet Sleep - personified as a shapeless golden character who protects children from worries and whisks Blas away on a night of adventure. "The Conceited Buzzard" and "A Mermaid and a Magistrate, 500 Neighbors, and a Singing Blackbird," warn children about the folly of vanity, while "The Weaver of Dreams," demonstrates that every person has talent, even someone who doesn't seem to be good at anything.

The book is not just for children, said Dr. Fedorchek.

"The author clearly meant for these stories to be read by adults, so they can learn something about children," said Dr. Fedorchek, who was so taken with the stories that he read the entire book in one sitting.

A Fairfield resident and professor of Modern Languages and Literatures at Fairfield University, Dr. Fedorchek received his master's degree in Spanish in 1964 and his Ph.D. in Romance Languages in 1966 from the University of Connecticut. Dr. Fedorchek has already published 11 books of translations of works by 19th-century Spanish authors. He became interested in Spanish fairy tales about seven or eight years ago, and noted with interest how often he found tales that closely paralleled the well-known stories of the Brothers Grimm.

The Garden with Seven Gates"The Garden" is the first translation he has undertaken of a 20th-century writer. To do so, Dr. Fedorchek needed to find Castroviejo's descendant to get permission. As luck would have it, Minia Bongiorno García of Santiago de Compostela (Spain), daughter of fellow Fairfield University professor Consuelo García Devesa, was able to track down Castroviejo's only daughter, María Antonia Seijo Castroviejo, who is a professor of German in Madrid. Seijo Castroviejo said she would be delighted to see her mother's works translated into English and provided a biographical profile of her mother for the book.

Concha Castroviejo published several books, including "Those Who Went Away," "Eve of Hate," and "Lina's Days." As a writer with Informaciones, a daily newspaper in Madrid, Castroviejo wrote a column and supervised a children's supplement. Castroviejo authored articles of literary criticism and pieces of short fiction for publications such as Ínsula, La Estafeta Literaria, Blanco y Negro, and Q.P. In addition to working for the Official Spanish News Agency, Castroviejo went on to work as a literary critic for another newspaper, La Hoja del Lunes. Castroviejo was a member of the Association Internationale des Critiques Littéraires and served on the panel of the Spanish Literary Criticism Prize. She passed away in 1995.

"These tales continue a wonderful series of books that bring important Spanish authors to an English-speaking audience," said Orin Grossman, Ph.D., academic vice president at Fairfield University. "Anyone who has delved into Dr. Fedorchek's luminous translations knows that he brings a gifted literary ear to render the Spanish into idiomatic and beautiful English. Dr. Fedorchek has provided an important service to the scholarly community and at the same time provided the general reader with wonderful tales to enrich their lives."

"The Garden with Seven Gates" is available through Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com and booksellers, and retails for $32.50.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on December 12, 2003

Vol. 36, No. 134