There are three matches scheduled for Tuesday, June 15th. First up is the final pairing from Group F, New Zealand versus Slovakia, followed by the two Group G matches, Brazil versus North Korea and Côte d'Ivoire versus Portugal. Time for an analysis of the literary match-ups:
Strengths: New Zealand is a young nation, both in terms of its sports history and its literary heritage. However, New Zealand does possess a rich history of Maori oral traditions, which if ever translated and put on the written page may prove to be an unknown factor that could surprise unwary foes and readers. Furthermore, several writers have been influenced by New Zealand and have written tales in New Zealand or based on New Zealand, such as works by Katherine Mansfield and Samuel Butler, whose Erewhon is perhaps the most famous New Zealand-based novel that I have read.
Weaknesses: As a young and untested literary group, New Zealand has had to rely more upon immigrant or foreign authors mentioning their land than do older, richer literary nations. There is really not a distinct New Zealand literary scene and the literature, outside of its sometimes rich settings, really has not stood out. Furthermore, the Kiwis would appear to be matched up poorly with nations that have a more integrated multicultural literary attack.
Strengths: Although Slovakia has only been an independent nation since 1993, there is a rich tradition of Slokavian literature, including several poets and dramatists, dating back to the medieval period. More recently, Milan Rufus was considered to be a perennial candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature until his death in 2009. Slovak authors, although not as well-known as their Czech brethren, have written several lauded works in a wide range of genres and literary styles.
Weaknesses: After 40 years of Communist rule and the paucity of translations into English, Slovak literature is still mostly an unknown quantity in the Anglophone countries. However, in parts of Central and Eastern Europe, Slovak writers have enjoyed some recognition, albeit of a diminished sort when compared to their larger Czech and Hungarian neighbors.
Prediction: Despite the lack of world-class literary figures on either side, the Slovaks ought to pull this one out due to their veteran poets and dramatists. New Zealand is too young of a literary side be able to counterattack efficiently and their literary defense is equally suspect.
Strengths: Portugal has produced some of the finest poets in Europe over the past five centuries. Luís de Camões with his Os Lusíadas is perhaps one of the few Renaissance/Early Modern poets who not only became his country's national literary figure, but who also deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Shakespeare and Moliére as best literary figures of the Early Modern era. In addition, in the 20th century, Portugal produced another outstanding poet in the enigmatic Fernando de Pessoa, who wrote under so many pseudonyms that the other Portuguese literary great of the 20th century, José Saramago, had one of those pseudonyms, Ricardo de Reis, outlive Pessoa by a year. Saramago also was the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate.
Weaknesses: Camões has faded somewhat in the past two centuries, especially in the Anglophone countries, where he used to be one of the few foreign authors who received new translations every generation until the 19th century. Saramago has aged and while there are some interesting young spec fic writers emerging (I am currently reading some of David Soares' works, which combine Portuguese history with speculative elements and am enjoying it greatly), Portugal's literary attack may be a bit long in the tooth to advance far in the knockout stages.
Prediction: This may be one of the most lopsided matches in the entire literary reimagining of the 2010 World Cup. Portugal pretty much can name the number of literary goals it will score here. No challenge at all for the Portuguese until they face their linguistic brethren, the Brazilians.