David Bellos

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David Bellos (born 1945) is an English-born translator and biographer. Bellos is Meredith Howland Pyne Professor of French Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University in the United States.[1] He is also director of Princeton's Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication.


Bellos' research topics have included Honoré de Balzac and Georges Perec. Bellos published a translation of Perec's most famous novel, Life A User's Manual, in 1987. He won the first Man Booker International Prize for translation in 2005 for his translations of works by Albanian author Ismail Kadare, despite not speaking Albanian; the translations were done from previous French translations.[2]

Bellos has written three literary biographies and an introduction to translation studies, Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and The Meaning of Everything (2011).[3] His most recent book, The Novel of the Century, tells the story of how Victor Hugo wrote Les MIsérables.

He appears in The Magnificent Tati, a documentary about the filmmaker Jacques Tati.[4]

Awards and honours[edit]




  • Georges Perec. A Life in Words, 1993. (Prix Goncourt de la biographie). French edition, 1994. Japanese edition, 2014. Hebrew edition, 2015.
  • Jacques Tati. His Life and Art, 1999. French edition, 2002
  • Romain Gary. A Tall Story, Harvill Secker, November 2010

Other books[edit]

  • Balzac Criticism in France, 1850–1900. The Making of a Reputation. Oxford, 1976
  • La Cousine Bette. A Critical Guide. London, 1981
  • Old Goriot (Landmarks of World Literature). Cambridge, 1987.
  • Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything. London and New York, 2011. Paperback edition, 2012.
    French translation by Daniel Loayza as Le poisson & le bananier, Flammarion, 2012. Spanish translation by Vicente Campos, as Un Pez en la higuera. Ariel, 2012. German translation by Silvia Morawetz as Was macht der Fisch in meinem Ohr?, Eichborn, 2013
  • The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables. London and New York, 2017


  1. ^ David Bellos at Princeton University
  2. ^ a b "The Englishing of Ismail Kadare" by David Bellos, complete review Quarterly, vol. VI, issue 2 – May 2005
  3. ^ Is That A Fish In Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything at Janklow & Nesbit
  4. ^ The Magnificent Tati on IMDb
  5. ^ "The 2017 American Library in Paris Book Award goes to The Novel of the Century" (Press release). American Library in Paris. Google Drive. 2017-11-03. Retrieved 2018-01-03.

External links[edit]