It might just be that the world wide web makes things a lot more accessible, but it seems that non-English Mormon literature is popping up more frequently these days (e.g., here). Case in point, last weekend saw the launch of a newsletter dedicated to Spanish-language Mormon authors and their work.
The newsletter’s name is El Pregonero de Deseret. A pregonero was, in Spain and its American colonies, a towncrier, someone who walked the streets of town shouting out announcements. (So, the title could be translated as The Deseret Towncrier… which sounds more poetic in Spanish, really). The publication’s name relies on two anachronistic nouns to signal the coming together of two traditions—the Spanish tradition and the Mormon tradition. Along similar lines, the logo for the newsletter cleverly meshes Picasso’s stylized Don Quixote and the iconic trumpet atop LDS temples. These elements are fused by design; they intend to convey that the newsletter seeks to highlight the work of Spanish-language authors who are also Mormon.
The initial issue of El Pregonero de Deseret contains an editorial explaining the publication’s purpose, an author highlight (that of Mario R. Montani), a book review (of R. de la Lanza’s novel Eleusis), a translated excerpt of Orson F. Whitney’s literary battle cry, and a poem (by Elvira Loyola) published in 1970 in the pages of the now defunct Relief Society magazine at Buenos Aires. If you read Spanish and are interested, you can download the newsletter here.
The publication is the work of an as-of-yet somewhat anonymous group of international literary enthusiasts who are themselves the result of these two traditions: the Spanish-language literary tradition and the Latter-day Saint spiritual tradition. They’ve called their informal association Cofradía de Letras Mormonas. The word cofradía is hard to translate, but it can be rendered as confraternity, fraternity, brotherhood, guild, or association. In other words, it’s a group of brothers-in-the-spirit who care about Mormon literature in Spanish. The purpose of the Cofradía is, at least in its early stages, to seek out and make known the work of Spanish-language authors who are LDS. There might be many such authors out there, but as they generally lack outlets for their Mormon work, they tend to go unnoticed. The Cofradía seeks to counter that.
In the long-term, the sky is the limit, so the Cofradía hopes to see a website, a journal, books, conferences, etc. In other words, it hopes to foster Mormon literature in Spanish in a way that is similar to what the Association for Mormon Letters has done for decades in support of the work of Latter-day Saint literature in English. For the time being, though, it’s baby steps. And El Pregonero de Desert is the first such step. A small but exciting step in the long walk head.