Helen Lane

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Helen Lane (1921 – August 29, 2004) was an American translator of Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian language literary works into English. She translated works by numerous important authors including Jorge Amado, Augusto Roa Bastos, Marguerite Duras, Juan Goytisolo, Mario Vargas Llosa, Curzio Malaparte, Juan Carlos Onetti, Octavio Paz, Nélida Piñon, and Luisa Valenzuela. She was a recipient of the National Book Award.


Lane began her career in the 1940s as a government translator in Los Angeles, before moving to New York City to work for publishers there. She became a freelance translator in 1970, and moved to the Dordogne in France. In addition to her books, she also provided subtitles for films by Jean-Luc Godard and Haskell Wexler.

She received the PEN Translation Prize in 1975 for her translation of Count Julian by Juan Goytisolo and in 1985 for her translation of The War at the End of the World by Mario Vargas Llosa.


She was born Helen Ruth Overholt in Minneapolis and graduated summa cum laude in 1943 from the University of California, Los Angeles, where in 1953 she obtained a master's degree in Romance Languages and Romance Literatures. She continued her coursework at UCLA to the doctoral level. In 1954, Lane was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to France. She studied at the Sorbonne for one year.[1]

List of translations[edit]

Alternating Current, Lane's translation of Octavio Paz, won the 1974 U.S. National Book Award in the category Translation (a split award).[2]


  1. ^ "An Interview with Helen Lane - Center for Translation Studies - The University of Texas at Dallas". translation.utdallas.edu. Retrieved 2018-10-19.
  2. ^ "National Book Awards – 1974". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
    There was a "Translation" award from 1967 to 1983.