Snippet: Pedrolo’s “Typescript of the Second Origin” in English

Manuel de Pedrolo, Mecanoscrit del segon origen [Typescript of the Second Origin], 1974

It is considered juvenile literature and has been the most sold book in Catalan ever. At the Eurocon science-fiction literature fair 2016 in Barcelona, the participants received a trilingual edition (Catalan-Spanish-English), and there has been announced an American edition by Wesleyan University Press for 2017.

The Catalan Wikipedia summarizes the contents as follows:

This science-fiction novel narrates the story of Alba and Dídac, 14 and 9 years old respectively, who live in a Catalan village called Benaura. They become the only survivors on Earth after some aliens eliminate practically all of humanity. Dídac is being attacked by some guys from the village because he is black. He falls into the water and Alba, who sees it all, jumps after him to save him. It is then when there appear some flying saucers that destroy everything, but Dídac and Alba are saved because they are in the water.

During the following four years they have to wise up on their own to survive in a destroyed world and deal with all kinds of problems and difficulties that make them become mature very quickly. They become aware of the importance of preserving knowledge, and they keep books and read them. They flee the epidemic and take refuge in a farmhouse, meet dead people and survivors, wander through the ruins of Barcelona and the Mediterranean. Above all, they learn from everything that happens to them (diseases, defense from the enemy) and of the information that they gather.

The book explores the relationship between the two young people and the recreation of a world as a utopia. The narration is structured in chapters that always start in the same way, giving the age of Alba and her (non-) virginity.

The narrator is omniscient and uses a lot descriptions.

This work’s suggestive power comes from its metaphors; the new world is compared with the present one, and there are indicated new possibilities of existence. The discovery of many aspects (such as the roles of culture or of sexuality) made by the couple, explains why the book has been so popular with adolescents, who identify with the protagonists, even though the novel was not written specifically for them.

The protagonists’ names have a symbolic meaning. The girl is called Alba [Catalan, “dawn”], because it’s the beginning of a new humanity; the name Dídac comes from ‘didactica’, for the manner of how the boy learns to survive and to become mature (and symbolizes the process of growing of every human being).

The translator Sara Martín Alegre gives an introduction to the book’s English version on her blog.

There is a mini-biography of the author Manuel de Pedrolo (1918-1990) in the English Wikipedia; for more thorough information you would have to consult the Catalan or Spanish versions.

[For the 2015 movie there is more information on its website.]


SOURCE: Grup 62 (publisher); El Periódico de Catalunya, Nov. 4, 2016


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