Gregory Rabassa

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Gregory Rabassa (born 9 March 1922) is a prominent literary translator from Spanish and Portuguese to English.

Life and career[edit]

Rabassa was born in Yonkers, New York, U.S., into a family headed by a Cuban émigré. After serving during World War II as an OSS cryptographer and receiving a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth, Rabassa enrolled as a graduate student at Columbia University, where he eventually earned a doctorate. He taught at Columbia for over two decades before accepting a position at Queens College, City University of New York.[1][2][3][4][5]

He works primarily in Spanish and Portuguese. He has produced English-language versions of the works of several major Latin American novelists, including Julio Cortázar, Jorge Amado and Gabriel García Márquez. On the advice of Cortázar, García Márquez waited three years for Rabassa's schedule to become open so that he could translate One Hundred Years of Solitude. He later declared Rabassa's translation to be superior to his own Spanish original. [6][1][2][3]

He received the PEN Translation Prize in 1977 and the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation in 1982. Rabassa was honored with the Gregory Kolovakos Award from PEN American Center for the expansion of Hispanic Literature to an English-language audience in 2001.[1][2][3]

Rabassa had a particularly close and productive working relation with Cortázar, with whom he shared lifelong passions for jazz and wordplay. For his version of Cortázar's novel, Hopscotch, Rabassa split the inaugural U.S. National Book Award in category Translation.[7][1][2][3]

Rabassa formerly taught at Queens College, from which he retired as Distinguished Professor Emeritus. In 2006, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.[1][2][3]

Rabassa has translated without reading the book beforehand, working as he goes.[3]

He has written a memoir detailing his experiences as a translator, If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents, A Memoir, a Los Angeles Times "Favorite Book of the Year" for 2005.[8] Rabassa received the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir for If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents in 2006.[9][1][2][3]

Selected translations[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Andrew Bast (May 25, 2004). "A Translator's Long Journey, Page by Page". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Lucas Rivera. "The Translator in His Labyrinth". Fine Books Magazine. A profile of Gregory Rabassa, the man who brought One Hundred Years of Solitude, Nobel Prize-winner Gabriel García Márquez' masterpiece, to the English-speaking world. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Thomas Hoeksema. "The Translator's Voice: An Interview with Gregory Rabassa". UT Dallas. 
  4. ^ Hector Tobar (October 17, 2013). "Listening to Gregory Rabassa, the translator's translator". Los Angeles Times. 
  5. ^ "Gregory Rabassa". Words without Borders. 
  6. ^ If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents: Books: Gregory Rabassa
  7. ^ a b "National Book Awards – 1967". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
    There was a "Translation" award from 1967 to 1983.
  8. ^ If This Be Treason at Google Books. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
  9. ^ "Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir Winners". Pen American Center. Archived from the original on October 2, 2006. 

External links[edit]