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Off topic: Renowned colleague needs support
Thread poster: schmurr

schmurr  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:40
Italian to German
+ ...
Jul 9, 2004

A ProZ friend of mine forwarded me this letter (it was adressed to another translators' forum):

Dear friends,
the Peruvian translator Juan del Solar suffered a stroke in November 1998.
Last Friday he was awarded this year's
Hermann-Hesse-Übersetzerpreis. As I was in the jury, I was able to meet Juan.
He translated Goethe, Lichtenberg, Kafka, Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, Brecht, Robert Walser, Herta Müller and translates and edits Elias Canetti's complete works.
He now is hemiplegic and has to live in a wheelchair.
He has no pension, no family.
He urgently needs a decent wheelchair; I saw the one he has now is very primitive and uncomfortable.
Please remit any contributions for Juan del Solar to my account no. 268-63-434, BLZ 360 100 43, Postbank Essen in the name of Christa Schuenke,
> IBAN: DE15360100430026863434
Thank you!

Christa Schuenke
literarische Übersetzerin EN>DE

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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 10:40
Emails from Christa Schuenke Jul 9, 2004

I contacted Christa Schuenke by email and phone, and received the following two email from her.

Thank you, Martin and Christa!


Email 1

Dear Henry,

Juan del Solar is a literary translator from German to Spanish of high standig who suffered a severe stroke in 1998 during a stay at the European Translators' College in Straelen, that left him partly paralysed and confined to a wheel chair.

Without any substantial health or pension insurance, Juan was compelled to sell his little apartment near Barcelona two years ago and return to his home country Peru where life is considerably less expensive.

He still works but du to his handicap from the stroke he can't work enough to make a living as a literary translator any longer.

Last weekend Juan José del Solar was awarded the renouned Hermann-Hesse-Translators' Prize, an occasion for me to see him again after many, many years and get an impression of his sad condition. As I could see, he needs assistance with everything and was desperately in need of a decent, comfortable wheelchair (the old one was a huge, uncomfortable, very primitive thing).

I am a literary translator myself from English into German and a friend of Juan's who I met about 15 years ago in Straelen. I used to be a member of the board of the German Literary Translators' association until last autumn, and I'm also a member of the German P.E.N. I represent the German Literary Translators' association in the supervising board of the German Hermann Hesse Foundation and was in the Jury for this year's Hermann Hesse translation award.

The call for donations you read in must have been the Italian translation of an appeal that I had sent to uebersetzerforum, the closed mailng list of the German Literary Translators' association. Colleagues from other European Translators' Associations have spread my appeal among their members.

The whole initiative is spontaneous and private. So far I have collected a bit more than 7.000 € and have sent a first rate (6.000 €) to the bank account of Calwer Hermann Hesse Foundation today. They will change the noney into US $ and transfer the amount to Juan's bank account in Peru immediately.

So, if you would like to make a contribution, you are very welcome.

Thank you and best wishes,



After having seen
Christa Schuenke
literarische Übersetzerin
Husemannstr. 3 - 10435 Berlin
Tel +49 (0) 30-44 34 14 37/38
Fax +49 (0) 30-44 34 14 39 (nur bei laufendem PC)
Mobiltelefon 0174-924 0 423

Email 2

What I forgot to mention:

my spontaneous initiative seems to have developed into a more or less longterm support action. So, if you would like to spread the appeal among the members of, here is the English version of the appeal, translated from German by my Austrian friend and colleague Jacqueline Csuss (board member of the Austrian Literary Translators' Association as well of CEATL):

Dear colleagues,
the following is a request for your solidarity.
It concerns Juan del Solar, a Spanish colleague of ours who is known to
quite a few of you.
Our German friend Christa Schuenke is making a personal effort to collect
funds for Juan who following a severe stroke several years ago and due to
his subsequent partial paralysation is in a desperate situation and more
precisely in need of a new wheel chair and a pair of orthopedical boots.

To those who don't know Juan:
Juan is originally from Peru and has lived and worked in Barcelona for most
of his life (translating a.o. Goethe, Kafka, Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse,
Brecht, Robert Walser, Herta Müller and Elias Canetti who personally
authorised him to translate his entire oeuvre). This year he received the
annual award given by the Hermann Hesse Foundation. 3 years ago he was
honoured by the Austrian government as best translator from German.

Following the stroke in 1998 (while staying at Straelen) he initially went
back to Barcelona and started rehabilitation. For economic reasons he was
eventuall forced to sell his small flat and to go back to Peru where he
hoped to be able to live off the proceeds. He has no old age pension, no
private savings and no-one to support him financially. His ability to work
has been limited - at any rate it's not enough to earn him a living.

Juan came to Germany for the Hesse award celebration and will stay there
until mid July - again for rehabilitation purposes. Christa met him there
and after seeing the state of his wheel chair - "terribly uncomfortable and
a primitive and huge thing" - and noting the state of his orthopedical shoes
she decided to help.
The manager of the Hermann Hesse Foundation succeeded in finding a wheel
chair suiting his needs and already managed to get the price down to Euro
2,600. The shoes will cost another Euro 300.

Christa is now asking for donations so that Juan can take his new chair back
to Peru without having to use the award money. Since he's going back soon
donations should be made quickly.

I'm asking you all to please consider her request and to forward this
message to your associations and other colleagues as well - any amount will

Donations should be made to:
Postbank Essen, Germany
Account holder: Christa Schünke
Reference: JUAN (plus your name)
Account number: 268-63-434,
Bank code: 360 100 43
IBAN DE: 15 3601 0043 0026 8634 34

Thank you!
All my best wishes

It was nice talking to you.

All best,


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:40
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
For further references Jul 10, 2004

navigate "Aktuell" on the page of the German literary translator's association:

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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:40
English to German
+ ...
Update Aug 5, 2004

Ceci (who is travelling in Latin America) has asked me to post a message Christa Schuenke sent to her:

Dear Cecilia,

I just wanted to give you the results of our donation action:

So far we have collected 12.435 €, 8.830 of which I have already sent to Mrs. Ruff, the manager of Calwer Hermann-Hesse-Stiftung, so she could pay the bills for a nice and comfortable wheelchair, two pairs of orthopaedic boots, two pairs of handmade orthopaedic compression stockings, a cosy pillow, two weeks rehabiltation cure with baths and massages etc. in the
Black Forest in southern Germany, a lot of taxi bills and whatever Juan and his nurse needed during their stay in Germany.

I don't have the final account of what has left of the sum I sent to Mrs. Ruff, but it should be about 2.000 €. This sum together with the 3.605 € I'm going to sent to Mrs. Ruff as soon as she'll be back from her vacation, should be enough to support Juan for one whole year in his now hometown Lima, Peru.

235 people from eight countries took part in the action. 8.855 € came from German literary translators; 1.750 € from Austrian literary as well as non-translators; 150 € from Swiss literary translators, 2200 € from literary translators from Poland, Czechia Finland and Denmark, non-literary translators from Spain sent 650 €; non-fictional translators from Germany donated 595 €, and 345 € came from my personal friends and family.

I think, that is a wonderful result, and I'd like to thank everybody for their solidarity with our colleague Juan del Solar.

Juan himself sent me an eMail asking me to tell everybody who took part in the action his deep and heartfelt gratefulness. He is very moved and asked me to tell you that this wonderful show of helpfulness and solidarity has given him a lot of courage and energy. He is back in Lima by now and has started to work on his Canetti edition again, even though due to his health problems he can only work very little and very slow.

The action is not yet finished, further donations are more than
welcome, because fantastic as the result of this action may be, we should keep in mind that it is still just a drop in the ocean.

All best,


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